Set me a seal upon your heart,
As a ring upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death...
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
A flame of the Eternal.

Song of Songs viii 6-7

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Journal Entry
Sunday 08/29/2004
Mid afternoon
Day before full moon

Today I began to rummage through some jewelry bins and boxes to prepare for my trip abroad. Though I still have a few days left to pack, I decided to polish my rings, earrings and some other sparkly pieces. Moving at a leisurely pace might even help heal my toe, I thought. So I hobbled to the kitchen and made up a tray of tea and cookies and set it on the coffee table. Then slowly, I lifted my bandaged foot onto the table.

“Ouch… there.”

“Once it’s steady, it’s fine.”

Soon, my attention turns to an antique basket of rings and I start poking around. One by one, I turn them over in my hand; the golds and silvers, the shapes and colors of each gemstone remind me of days gone by. Brushing back a little tear, I rummage around till thumb and forefinger hit something large and seemingly out of place.

Lifting it up with my index finger, I smile.

“It’s yours,” I say to my alter ego. “You used to call it your ‘Turkish wedding ring’.”1 I lift up the interlocking chain and spin it around on my finger. Why did I think I’d stashed away it in my velvet pouch?

So many memories…

I’m no longer able to contain the water so I just let it flow and grab a tissue off the table. “It’s oxidized,” I say, puffing away. “Time for a good buff.” So I reach for the silver polish and a soft cloth. It’s a stubborn one, but soon the tarnish begins to wear thin, revealing the natural gleam of silver. Hey!

Still, something’s gnawing at me. “Why do I have two of your rings? I don’t need to keep more than one. “Giving it a final buff, I say to myself, Most widows get rid of their husband’s things after they die. Some of them even do it in the first few weeks.

But I can’t seem to… I just…

Sighing, I try to resolve this by saying what my friends keeps telling me, “Maybe you just need a little more time, dear.” Regardless, one thought leads to another, and soon I’m remembering my wedding ring and the interlocking band matching his own. No more than a few minutes before Max’s friends and loved ones began to arrive at the funeral home, I put my ring in his keepsake chest. “Take this with you, darling,” I said. Then, smelling the sweetness of the lonely rose, I placed it softly beside the ring.

Now, I look up at the ceiling as if my dearest friend and husband might still be hiding there, somewhere, like a charming caracal. I cry out in sadness, and yet with the greatest of joy, “Hey Max, I’m on my way to England!”

“Will visit your family first, of course. Then, guess what, I’m going to take a bus to Wellington. You know, the headmaster’s taking me on a tour of your old school. How cool is that?” The room is getting warmer as evaporation tickles my cheeks, so I scratch my face, but nothing can stop the babbling stream. “And guess what else, I’m going to Windsor to see your cousin Nate, and… and…” and in a flash, comes the roar of an engine, gaining in speed and might! I look around as if I might suddenly find myself sitting on the scary railroad tracks of yesteryear. As the clamor rises up, Tiggi darts in from the hall and stops short. I watch her in disbelief as her eyes practically pop out of their sockets as an ungodly sound emanates from her mouth.

That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a cat snarl like a salivating pit bull.

Still, she’s ogling something at the east end of the house. Fear crawls like thorny branches up the back of my neck. “My God,” I cry, “it’s coming from the dining room!”

Not considering my toe, I can’t even get myself to budge.

Soon, a crackling sound, an electrical pop and a crash… “What’s happening!” I scream. Despite the little mallets beating at my chest cavity and a deep-seated desire for self-preservation, curiosity conquers all reason. I hobble to the dining room doorway, only to watch in horror as books, candles, flowers, and my purple vase “hurl themselves” from the table to the floor – well, this is exactly how it looks! I make a lunge for the purple pot, but it’s too late, I’m no match for the velocity of this mighty projectile. I can only look on in indignation as my lovely vase smashes against ceramic tile…

…slivers fly everywhere in slomo.

I scream, “My God, this can’t be happening!”

And, as the objects stop spinning and slowly settle in place, numbness fills my body and my brain.

This is not real.

Now there is no sound… no movement… nothing. My ears are ringing as an eerie calm descends upon the room. I’m sitting in a crumpled ball on the futon, staring at the clutter before me. Tiggi mews disconsolately, attempting to coil her trembling body around my arm. I want to stroke her but my hand feels like a fossil, petrified… and soon my brain lapses into a freeze like I have never known.


After who-knows-how-long and shadows skulking like trolls along the dining room wall, I come to the dim realization that I had lost consciousness. After viewing what I had always considered to be impossible – a manifestation made only for moviegoers – I must have blacked out. Then after awhile, in an effort to get my bearings, I come to the vast conclusion that I must do something, anything. After all, the clutter on the floor is not going to get up and walk away.

Still, I am gratified to see that nothing more has moved. “Well, that’s a start!”

And so, with the heartening mews of one courageous cat, I pull Tiggi up and give her the bear hug she deserves.

By and by, I turn on the high beams and, like an inspector, conduct a sweep of the area… from the now-bare table to the incredible mess on the floor. All the while, I’m shaking my head in stupefaction. It is incomprehensible to me that all the things that cluttered my dining room table for an entire week now reside on the floor. Under normal circumstances (hmmm, like when would that be?) I keep my keys, books and other things on the table so they’re handy for me when I go out. Maybe I’ll read a chapter between appointments, I think, as I grab my keys and dash to the car. Now I’m staring at the daunting mess. What to do? What to do?

Thankfully, in due course, this (all too familiar) state of bewilderment starts wearing off; perhaps brain cells are beginning to form once more. And so, with a renewed sense of purpose, I focus my attention on the bits and pieces amassed at the west end.

“Wait a minute, my lace tablecloth….” As if draped by a decorator, the cloth has come to a perfect point on the floor. “How strange, it seems to be pointing to the plant.” Soon, like a jolt from a super-sized espresso, I’m alert and scrutinizing the tablecloth, the shattered glass and other remnants scattered about.

No, I see. It’s pointing to…

Bending down, “What?” I ask, quizzing any imp that might want to play.

Making little worried “wookie sounds,” Tiggi jumps off the futon and wriggles around like a bunny. She’s now sniffing my hand and the shiny object at the tip of the tablecloth.

I pick it up. “Hey, it’s a coin!” I say, tossing it in the air. The Tig rears back on her hind legs, ready to go for it. (Sometimes I don’t think she’s a cat; more like a cross between a dog and a rabbit, a dabbit?) Still, I’m taller of course, so I catch the coin before Tiggi can possibly reach it. The poor thing mews disconsolately. I’ll have to give her a big treat tonight.

“Good girl for trying!” I say.

Now I must have a look at this coin, so I take off my glasses and set them down. Oddly, I can see things better if I put them up to my face.

So, where did it come from, hmmm? I stoop down to examine my find. The Tig zeroes in like Watson nosing the prize, as if she can determine its value in a couple of sniffs.

“The markings are strange.” I must sit down and look at both sides.

“Oh, wow! There’s no date on it.”

I pick up my glasses and put them on. “Well, it’s not a quarter.”

A few days ago, I had dusted all the knickknacks and sundries setting on the dining room table. And one thing I know for sure, I have never seen a coin like this before. I tap the piece on the table and put it in my purse. Soon, I come to a rather strange but obvious conclusion:

“This coin bears no date. It would never spend.”

Hey Max, what just happened here?


Post Script 1

The day I left for England, I received the answer to this puzzling question. Yet, because of what Max used to do when he was alive, I realize now that I should have figured it out sooner – much sooner. The answer is contained in a poem I wrote entitled, “A Shining Piece of Silver,” published in our book, For the Time Being, (Authorhouse, 2007). I wrote it in a style reminiscent of one of my favorite periods, the Victorian Era:

A Shining Piece of Silver

Gath’ring up my courage with my clothing
For a voyage I knew that I must take
All purpose had died along with you, dear,
Oh Lord, it was a time I couldn’t shake.

Packing jewelry, thinking and rememb’ring
My wedding ring you carried to your grave,
When before me, a quaking at the table
And the tablecloth flew off with a wave!

Before I knew it, clutter crashed on ceramic ~
Books and orchids, my lovely purple vase.
“This can’t be happ’ning!” I said in sheer amazement,
Then sat and stared at the remnants, in a daze.

Befuddled, I picked up all the pieces,
And the tablecloth that was so elegant,
Lay pointing to a shining piece of silver
Hidden shyly beneath a blooming plant.

Perplexed, I sat down with the silver
Not knowing from where the coin had come.
I studied that shining piece of silver
Most certain it wasn’t from that room!

So simple, it looked just like a quarter,
But it wasn’t ~ the coin was something else!
I shook my head, returning to my business,
And slipped the piece safely in my purse.

The day arrived when I’d venture on my journey
And a thunderbolt hit me through and through ~
I locked the door, keys landing on the silver,
And remembered something that you used to do.

“You’re trav’ling, my sweetheart,” you would tell me,
“And to ensure that there is no blasted curse,
Take this coin along with you on your journey
And keep it tucked away inside your purse.”

“And when you’re weary and your trip is over,
Fly back to me and I will see you through,
But don’t leave behind this little piece of silver;
It will guarantee that I’ll be seeing you.”

‘Though we’re parted and you’re so far away now,
I keep your silver coin tucked away inside
To remind me, again, we will be meeting
When my journey takes me to the Other Side.


Mandy Berlin


  1. Mandy,

    This is the wildest true story I have ever read!

    Thank you for writing it and for sharing it with everybody, including me :) :) :).

    Your friend,
    Nancy (Bill Lady)

  2. Hey Nancy,

    I'm so glad you like it!!

    I still find it incredible that this happened to me! It's one of the stories I like to tell over and over again.

    Happy reading!


  3. PS - I'm posting my comments under "Anonymous" because Google still has glitches. Normally, I'd post it under my Google Account.

    Mandy Berlin

  4. Thank you and all success with your book.....
    Namaste, Teresa Brown, Intuitive/Medium & Artist

  5. Thank you, Teresa, and every success to you for your upcoming book, "Discovering the Power of Ceremony"!