From A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken chapter X “The Oxford-Vision Dream“
It was morning. I had come back to Oxford two years after Davy’s death and found digs, a ground-floor room with its own door opening onto a large garden with paths angling across it. I was just dressing to go out to an early lecture at the Schools. Morning sunlight was slanting in the windows. I heard a small sound and turned: it was Davy. I was fully aware that she was dead and, instantly and overwhelmingly, aware that something miraculous was happening. I was, I told myself, full awake.
“Davy!” I cried.
She smiled broadly. I felt a pure joy as I took a step towards her, but I also felt a little tentative, hesitant.
“It’s all right, dearling,” she said, and held out her arms. I went into them, and we hugged each other and kissed — the kiss was heaven. But even in joy, I was conscious, with a sort of amazement, that she was warm and solid. Weren’t ghosts supposed to be . . . But I could feel her shoulder blades under my hands. I stood back and looked at her. She looked just as she had always done, even to the slight dark circles under her eyes. I felt an immense gratitude to her, and to God for letting her come. There was, also just a hint of shyness, tentativeness — not knowing quite what the rules were, so to speak, for this sort of thing. I, standing back, looked at her face, her clothes, all in a second or two.
“Davy, Davy~” I said.
“Oh, my dear!” she said. Then she added, “I can’t stay long.”
We went over and sat on the edge of the bed with our arms around each other, and I said something about being grateful for ever that she was there at all. Then I couldn’t resist asking her how she, in heaven, could have dark shadows under her eyes.
She grinned, knowing me, and the said seriously, “I can’t tell you that. I can’t tell you much at all.”
I grinned back at her. “That’s reasonable,” I said. Then, after a little silence, I said, “can you tell me one thing, dearling? Are you — well, with me sometimes? I’ve sometimes thought you might be.”
“Yes, I am,” she said. ” know all your doings.”
“Thank God!” I said. Then I said, very casually, “And my letters to you –have you, um, read them? Over my shoulder, maybe?”
And then our eyes met in that look of perfect understanding — that look of knowing — that I had missed more than any other thing. After that, we just sat there on the edge of the bed, holding each other, cheek to cheek. There was more said, and there was laughter. And I was pervaded with bliss. I don’t recall her exact words, but she gave me to understand that she had wanted this meeting as much as I could have done; and I remember thinking that God had allowed it because He loved her.
Finally, she said that she must go, and I accepted her going peacefully. She left by the door, and I leaned in the doorway, watching her go across the garden and through the alleyway. Then she was gone.
I turned back into the room, thinking, “How I’ve been blessed!” It was, of course, to late for the lecture. I would, I thought, go up to the High and get some breakfast. I put on my tie and jacket, thinking very happily about this wonder that had happened. Then –there she was again. But with a difference. She stood there, merely smiling a little; and now, I realised, I could see though her. Then, even as I watched, she lifted her hand in a little wave and faded and was gone.
I murmured to myself, making a distinction that i don’t now fully understand; “this was an apparition and the other was a vision. Derr Davy! she came back again just to show me that she is really with me.” I smiled at the corner where she had been and perhaps still mwas. Then I went out.