I visited Mom's nursing home on Wednesday to donate some CD's and a DVD from Moms stash for their music and entertainment programs; just one of the many tasks I've elected to do on Mom's behalf and bring closure for myself.
Running into old acquaintances who live, work and volunteer at the nursing home caused us to reminisce about Mom, her passing, the memorial/celebration of her life that the family hosted there a few weeks ago and death in general. I found quite quickly that one can't visit such a place after such a majour event without people opening up and sharing their own stories of love and loss.
It seems that, regardless of religious or spiritual orientation, surviving relatives are looking for signs from the departed that they are OK in their new realm of existence. The living also want to be reassured that those that have "passed" are now watching over, and perhaps, guiding them.
One woman, heavily grieving the loss of her father (who died in December) said she just wants to be able to move on but can't seem to do so. Despite not being ready to "go" there was nothing that could be done for him and this added to the pain and suffering he and his family experienced during the last few months of his life. I asked what would make it possible for her to move on. She said she didn't know but felt that, "If I could only have a sign that he's OK. I think that would help." And though she said, in an off hand manner, "I did get a sign the next day" and proceeded to describe the incident, the radiance in her face indicated that this was a real, not a manufactured, experience but for some reason it just hadn't registered consciously with her yet.
She proceeded to tell me that, a few weeks later, during an especially difficult time, her father came to her in a dream and said, somewhat irritated, "Why do you keep calling on me? Don't you know that I'm dead?" This made her feel even worse until I reminded her, as she'd just told me, she'd already received the sign she was looking for. I proceeded to say that, if it were my dream, I'd try and see it from his point of view. When I took his vantage point I realized that I'd be wondering how many times and in how many ways would she need to be reassured that I'm OK? I'm dead and there are things I have to do here but trust that when you really need me I'll be there.
Some spiritual traditions believe that, not until the living have released the dead are those that have passed, free to move on in their journey; move on, they and we must. Our grief, sense of guilt, loss of direction keep them bound to us and between realms, neither here nor there (some spiritual traditions believe that there are many aspects to a human soul, that one aspect of the soul remains while other aspects are intended to move on). Our clinging to them keeps us from becoming fully present to and engaged in life, saps our energy and leads to depression.
Through past life regression and interlife experiences I have realized that when we die we reintegrate into the fullness, wisdom and love that we were before incarnating. In an instant, all suffering is over. But an aspect of our individual souls continue to reside in the hearts of the living and continue through the DNA of future generations.
Another woman said she was waiting for a sign from 2 relatives on her birthday but none was forthcoming. I wonder if, in looking for one specific sign, we might miss those magical, synchronic moments that happen almost daily reminding us of our interconnectedness.
Surprisingly, all this reminiscing found me, not sorrowful for the past, but anxious about the future. With Mom's death, (Dad having passed in 2002) the ties of my family of origin are broken. Released from the expectations that have defined us all our lives, our lives are, for the first time in our lives, truly our own. And, released from my duties towards my parents, I'm asking myself - who am I now, what do I really want and what do I do with this new chapter in my life.
Later that night a message from the pastor came through my answering machine. I had been thinking about him for days, wanting to let him know, personally, what a wonderful service he'd done for Mom and our family so I picked up the phone. He'd somehow gotten one digit wrong in my brother's phone number and was calling for the right one. He went on to say that he was sure I was missing Mom, that my family had done a good job honouring her at the memorial and that he was sure that she was pleased.
Signs are present everywhere when we embrace life.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
I have 2 jars both with the words, HEALING, LOVE, GRATITUDE written on the outside. The small one I fill daily from the tap. The next morning I pour all but a little bit of this water into the larger jar. The jars are in an altar space in my treatment room that is smudged daily. For over 20 years this has been a place of healing, where soothing music, chants and drumming have filled the air; during the winter months it is where I do my yoga practice in the warmth of the heater's glow while cold winds blow outside.
When the large bottle is filled I take it to the lake and pour the water back from where it came saying, "We are sorry for any suffering that we have caused you. We love you and are grateful." I learned this during a healing circle held in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake, tsunami and damage to the nuclear reactors that sent tons of radiated water back into the ocean. It is a small, but I think, important gesture for me to make.
Masuru Emoto has studied the effects of thoughts on water finding that words such as HEALING, LOVE and GRATITUDE can create the most beautiful, intricate crystals of water whereas negative words create distorted, unharmonious structures.
Since Mom died I've been immersed in the past and most especially last week as I helped my family prepare for a memorial service in her honour last Friday night.
My brother and I sorted through albums and boxes of family photos, scanned them into the computer and sent them back and forth to each other, so that he could make a slide show out of our "finds". With the assistance of one of Mom's sisters we were able to dig further into our past than I'd ever gone before. I stared deeply into the faces of many people I'd never, or rarely, met who peered back at me with an air of familiarity.
Other photos brought back happy times spent with family and friends. Time periods jumbled together. One moment we THACKERLINGS were young exhuberant children, then young adults and teens playing in the snow, babes in the arms of our Mom, forty somethings crowded on my brother's couch, children again. Back and forth; memories spilled into my consciousness.
Mom loved music. Night and day I was immersed in the music of the 30's, 40's and 50's trying to select those pieces that touched an emotional cord within me, releasing memories which would confirm, yes that one, she'd love that one!
All this memory lane stuff had me out of step with time; lost in a fog of remembrance.
My dreams were filled with stories of being late for events. I'd wake up feeling that I was running behind. It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed and most days I'd wait til the latest possible moment making my dreams a reality. I couldn't catch up with life.
One such morning I was to meet with the pastor and my brother so that we could go over the memorial and give him some details about Mom's life and her personality. Already running late, I grabbed my full bottle of "blessed, healed" water as I ran out of the house, jumped into the car and sped off with it tucked neatly by my side. Meeting literal roadblocks and detour after detour, though the nursing home is only blocks away, my frustration exploded into a stream of expletives that would "turn the air blue" as my Dad would say.
And it felt... sooo good... so relieving... that I let 'er rip, just like the scene of King GeorgeVI in THE KING'S SPEECH!
Then I remembered the poor water in the jar nestled beside me. I could see its crystals breaking apart, becoming blackened and distorted.
I know that we are composed of over 90% water. The theory behind Emoto's experiments is that if water can be effected by thoughts and words then so can we. I swear that the swearing really, really helped me release a lot of tension. But what about the poor water?
I'd have to make it up to it.
So after the meeting, back home and on my altar the jar went. I deluged it with chants, bringing in the big gun himself, the Dalai Lama, I drummed, treatment sessions were done, until I felt the water could feel the LOVE, HEALING and GRATITUDE directed its way, enough to be released back into the lake. I really don't know if this helped the water at all. All I know is that this too felt really, really good to me.