The phenomenon is known to the Nez Perce as átawit láp'ulp'ul - the ashes of love. The remnant of someone burning like an ember in your subconscious. For a long while I found it comforting. I would lay down at nigh, punishing myself for past transgressions. Like a salve I would brush up against, his voice would come into my head and show me the fallacy. I would imagine us walking in the woods like we always had. A spectator would conclude that I was living in the past. But I was very much living in the present. My present. About a week ago his voice faded. I can't say that I reached out to keep it from going. It just felt that he'd naturally probably outstayed his welcome as it was.
Knocked out of the thoughts in my head, I noticed out the window that I could see campfires out in the valley below. New settlers were arriving now that the snows had thawed in the Rockies. The Umatilla grass it's unnatural fresh spring green.
I smiled imagining small children who had never known the old world, whose first steps had been in a Wyoming prairie town where their wagons had stopped for the winter. Now they were running in circles of play, never realizing they were the first of their kind.
I'll put on my old hat, mount up, go down 'n introduce myself to them in the morning.