​A sign of life beyond death?

We spend our lives reaching out to the people we love. But could it be that some people can make contact -- even after they're gone? Here's Tracy Smith:

In a way, this story is like almost the view from across the Golden Gate: intriguing, even beautiful, but sometimes hard to see through all the fog.

Janis Heaphy Durham was not the kind of person who believed in after-death communication. She used to think of death as an ending -- but she never will again.

In 1999 Janis and Max Besler were a California power couple: she was publisher of the Sacramento Bee, a paper that won two Pulitzer Prizes on her watch; he was a political consultant, stepfather to her son, Tanner, and the love of her life.

"He was compassionate and empathetic and my lover and my best friend," she said.

And she was at his side when doctors told him he had terminal cancer in late 2003.

"The most painful part was just watching him suffer" -- and feeling helpless, she said.

In May 2004, a few days shy of his 56th birthday, Max Besler died, and that, Janis says, is when things started getting weird: Lights in her Sacramento home would flicker; clocks would stop at the moment Max died.

But then, on the anniversary date of his death, Janis was stunned by something she saw as she stood in her bathroom washing her hands.

"I looked up at the mirror and I saw a handprint," she told Smith. "A perfectly-formed, powdery handprint. Large, on the mirror. It was the right hand."

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Janis Heaphy Durham was not the kind of person who believed in after-death communication, until her husband died - then, the handprint appeared on her mirror.
Janis Heaphy Durham

Her first thought was that maybe Tanner did it as a joke. But his teenage hands were much too small.

"That hand looked so consistent, so similar to Max's," she said. "So I did have the wherewithal to photograph it.

"I wish I had done more. I wish I would have thought to take a sample. But I just didn't even think of it. I thought, 'I do need to photograph it, however.'"

Before long, the hardcore skeptic was a true believer.

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Janis Heaphy Durham shows photographs of the phenomena to correspondent Tracy Smith.
CBS News

Smith said, "I have faith in things that I can't see, but you know there are millions of people out there that are going to say, 'Come on!'"

"Exactly," said Durham. "And I was one of them, so I really understand it."

In time, Janis moved on; she remarried in 2008. But things kept happening: A footprint appeared on a chair at their vacation home; carpets would move themselves across her floor.