Last cigarette with a ghost

As of today I am no longer smoking cigarettes. I’ve been a smoker since I was 17-years-old. In that time I was able to stop smoking for 4 years! I’m trying to quit again starting today. Wish me well.

I smoked my last cigarette in my car this morning, parked in a supermarket parking lot, drinking Dunkin’ Donuts cold brew and listening to NPR. I don’t remember the show, or it’s content – just a mellow male voice underscored with peaceful music.

The final smoke was passing by unremarkably, until I felt the presence of a ghost.

Last year, my friend Raf messaged me on Facebook to tell me that his wife Judy passed away suddenly. That she had a few too many drinks after their 14 year anniversary and that she “passed out on the couch and didn’t wake up”. I hadn’t talked much with Raf in the 21 years since we were close friends in High School. And I never met Judy. Raf and I talked a lot that night.

And today in the parking lot, Judy jumped into my car, unannounced, uninvited, unseen, but not unwelcome. Did she have any last moments of lucidity before dying? Yes. At first, she was scared, and wanted to stand up, shout out, get help. Should could not do any of those things, and instead had to make the strong, lonely choice to let go. To keep loose any loose ends. To say goodbye to her children and leave without hearing their response.

If she could do that, can I give up smoking? For real this time? Can I reclaim my joy in life?

I’m grateful that Raf contacted me that night, and shared with me his situation. I’m grateful for Judy’s wordless words of encouragement. Wish me well. I wish you well.

Cover image by EFBailey

Update: This past weekend I broke my smoke-free streak. I will not be discouraged and my commitment to quitting is still strong. My new quit date is today, June 19, 2018.

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