Synchronicity - The Blue Flame
(This is an excerpt from Bedeviled )
The Blue Flame bar as it still was in the 1980's
Very 1940's vintage, isn't it?
As I looked back on my life, there were a great many things going on spiritually that I never noticed, because I was totally unschooled not only in religion, but in ways of the spirit world. Many events now take on a different interpretation and meaning in light of my new knowledge of how intermingled the world of spirit is in our lives and how it interacts with our own spirits. I was so relentlessly mundane in my beliefs and so trapped in the material world that I didn’t see, feel, or respond to the subtler clues and influences all around me. I had my scientific blinkers on and had no idea of what I was missing. The spirit world knew Tom’s dark secrets and tried to save him. But I’m afraid I wasn’t picking up the clues that might have helped me to help him.
One very telling example of psychic synchronicity took place in relation to our country home, Tom’s most visible symbol of his soap opera success and the one thing we did work on together and pour all our creativity into. This startling coincidence and the powerful emotional impact it had on him, plus knowing now the forces of self-destruction that Tom was fighting, lead me to believe that this event was manifested to pull his heart back into the path of love and happiness. The spirit world was sending Tom a powerful emotional signal to reconnect him to his mother’s family and to our future together right there in upstate New York. But while he felt the emotions very strongly, he was already in the grip of something as potent and deadly as hemlock, only he didn’t know it.
It all started when Tom turned out to have a long-ago connection to the area where we’d bought our home. You remember, the house we’d found when Tom went out to buy the Sunday Times. We discovered this connection only by accident after owning the house for several years when second cousins on Tom's mother's side visited us.
The cousins, who’d known his mother when she was young, showed up unexpectedly to visit us at our house. We chatted, but Tom was very uncomfortable. His memories of his mother and her tragic life always upset him. As we tried to make conversation, both cousins asked, in all innocence, “so by the way, how did you find out about this area? Did your grandmother tell you about it?” Tom was puzzled and had no idea what they were talking about. "This area," both cousins insisted. “You knew, didn't you, that your family and ours always came up here for summer vacations in the old days? That’s why we came back to this area, today."
Tom stared at them, stunned, searching his memory for some distant echo of what they were talking about.
It was as if the curtain that hides the workings of the universe had slipped to reveal the wheels within wheels. Tom never had any idea that his mother’s family had been in our vicinity. He was even more surprised that his mother had had happy summer vacations in her girlhood. This connection instantly aroused his interest and curiosity.
Cousin Donald was only a little older than Tom's mother had been. He remembered pretty, young Helen quite well. She was only a teenager, a lovely, blooming young girl, when they'd been up here for summer fun. Donald described the cottages as being atop a hill, bordering a small lake for swimming. Across the road was a restaurant called "The Blue Flame". This was where they would all gather for drinks and dinner.
"Yes," Donald continued, digging deep into his memory. "The last time we ever came up here was right before the war. I remember your mom and I were walking up the hill from the grocery store. She was only about fifteen years old and I kind of had a crush on her. Suddenly, someone came running down the hill. They yelled as they passed that the Athenia had been sunk. We raced up to The Blue Flame, where everyone was gathered around the radio. It was terrible. A British passenger ship on the way to Canada with Americans on board had been sunk with over a hundred dead. Everyone guessed it was a German U boat and was shocked. We all knew it meant war, again. Your grandfather knew he'd be called back into the Navy. Your grandmother and all the women were crying. Your grandmother was so worried for Ed. He'd been through the Great War and now he'd have to go back to war. We were all scared." He paused, as his mind returned to the present. "I'll never forget that day. That was the last time we were all up here." The other cousin shook his head in sad agreement at the shared memory. He, too, was a seaman in the Merchant Marines who had served in the war.
Tom and I were both struck in our own ways by Don's vivid memory of that fateful day and how the war had disrupted a peaceful summer by the lake and wrought havoc in all their lives and shaped their destinies.
But Tom's interest was deeper than just to hear about the war. He questioned them closely, hungry for details of some of his family’s history, some memories of his family before tragedy and despair had engulfed them. I could almost feel his heart leap toward these happy memories. He was powerfully drawn to know, to touch and feel something gladdening in his depressing past. "What was the name of the lake and of the town?” Don didn’t remember. “The restaurant was called The Blue Flame?" They went over the details, the setup, the location several times. They had been looking for it, too, and couldn’t find it; but they were sure it was somewhere right in this area.
Right then, Tom became determined to locate that lake, those cottages, and that restaurant. They said it wasn't much of town, just a grocery store, the cottages, a lake and the restaurant. On a hill. A small lake. Right in this area, that's why we thought we'd stop by and see you. We were in the area, just remembering the old days.
Finding the mythical Blue Flame became an obsession of Tom's, and he began a determined search, a man driven by something more than idle curiosity. As a result, Tom and I spent many dreamlike afternoons driving all over the countryside, following every little side road and byway, asking questions every place we stopped; but no one remembered The Blue Flame. Then one sunny afternoon, up a road on a dusty hill, we found some very old, frame cottages by a road that dead ended at a small lake. There was a restaurant right across the road from the cottages. It was all exactly as Donald had described it. It had to be the place, although the restaurant was not called The Blue Flame.
We parked, looked around, and went into the restaurant. It was a good sized, unpretentious place, with a large, unmistakably World War Two vintage, horseshoe shaped bar, surrounded by knotty pine paneling and walls painted navy blue. Blue. We exchanged knowing looks. We sat down and ordered a couple of beers, while absorbing the atmosphere. It was like we’d stepped back in time. But though we were sure this must be the place, we wanted proof to make it real. We questioned the bartender and the owner. No, neither had ever heard of The Blue Flame.
When we thought about it, Tom's family had come here almost forty years ago. The restaurant must have changed hands many times over the years. Still, the interior was painted blue. And that horseshoe bar was so nineteen forties. We could almost picture Ed, Ann and their daughter, Helen, sitting here on summer evenings, relaxing after a day of swimming and lounging in the quiet country, such a change from the busy streets of Manhattan, where they lived. It was so evocative. We wandered around inside and then outside, looking for something to confirm our suspicions, just so we could know for sure. The cottages were definitely prewar, and still very charming with their gray weathered wood and droopy porches. But they were closed and unused, now.
We walked over to the small lake. I tried to imagine what Tom was thinking. Was he trying to picture his mother as a girl with her family on vacation, still happy before the tragedy of her marriage? We walked back toward the restaurant, and it was then he noticed it, the old rickety trellis with dried up tendrils of vine twisted around it. Hidden in the arch at the top, woven among those vines, were the words "The Blue Flame." We shared a quiet chill down our spines and a breathless moment of disbelief. We had the proof. It had been right there for forty years and even the owner had never noticed it. Still there. The Blue Flame, waiting for us to find it.
Synchronicity, time crossing over itself and replaying old events trying to make them come out closer to right. The repeated pattern begging to be recognized and successfully completed. Your family had love and joy here. Your mother wants you to know she was a happy girl here and wants you to be happy, too. They left this sign just for you. It’s waited all these years for you to find it. The Blue Flame.
Tom was thrilled with the discovery, and we ate many dinners at that restaurant over the next couple of years. When his brothers visited our house, we brought them there for lunch and showed it to them. Tom took pictures of the three of them together at the same restaurant where his mother and her parents had vacationed so long ago. His youngest brother kept those pictures till he the day he died. Happy days. There were happy days for Mom, Grandpa and Grandma. A summer vacation. Tom felt all the joyful importance of it. His heart seemed to overflow.
Love tried to reach out to us from the world of spirit, but I didn’t believe in spirit world nonsense. Nor had I ever heard of synchronicity and neither had Tom. It never occurred to either of us that this was anything more than an unusual coincidence. The idea that the spirit world had gone to a lot of trouble to make sure we knew that this place was special for us, simply wasn’t how we thought about life. And so, because we weren’t connected to our spirits and our hearts, we lost our house and our chance at happiness. I guess neither of us really believed in the power of love to accomplish things in this world, or we’d never have left that house, which we’d worked so hard on and loved so much.
This is the strangest afterlife story you will ever read. A man with a divided soul, one in hell and one in heaven, came back to confess the truth and expose how the devil ruined his life. A must read for anyone struggling to reconcile sin and mental illness.