Present Tense

2016: On completion…

mom-and-dad2016. A year that lived up to its destiny.  In numerology, this was a ‘9’ year.  9 represents completion and that is exactly what this year has been for me.  Endings, goodbyes, letting go of all that no longer serves me.  Closing the circle on a journey that began several years ago.

On December 28th around 3:45 p.m. my mother took her last breath, as I sat on her bed with my hand on her chest.  It was peaceful and sacred and felt completely natural as I sat with her through her transition into spirit.

I won’t go into all of the particulars, other than to say that hospice is such a fantastic resource and I predict that our next big national discussion will be how we die.  Hospice plays such an integral part in the process and providing help and dignity, to not only the sick and dying, but the families who are often overwhelmed.  The hospice folks seemed to magically appear, exactly when we needed them.  It was almost mystical.

Five years ago, I would NEVER have even entertained the notion of sitting with my mother as she died.  I would have found excuses and justifications for staying as far away as possible.  It seems like that would be hard to admit, but I know myself and I can honestly say that I couldn’t handle it.  I wasn’t mature enough.

But, we change.  We evolve, particularly if we are open to it and often, the universe conspires to change us and open us up via shocking events and losses.

Until October 2013, when I was almost 54 years old, I had not really had to deal with death.  I feared it and dreaded losing my parents in particular, but in a compressed period, death has come and forced me to look at it.

Two dogs, a parent and a dear friend all passed in fairly quick succession before my mom began to fail.  I can see now that every one of these losses served a purpose. I suffered and felt grief that I never thought I could bear.  Each successive death brought back the pain of the others.

But, with each loss, I learned to cope and I also allowed my heart to crack open and my fear to dissipate.  I delved into death and dove into death.  As I survived the deaths of those I loved, I began to understand that death isn’t to be feared.  It is to be celebrated. It’s a change of address for their spirits.  And we all make that move one day.  Death begins at birth.

My mother always said she hoped that she would die peacefully in her sleep, but rarely do we get to choose our mode of passing.

With the help of hospice, she did get her wish for the most part. Unfortunately, some painful and violent falls preceded that peaceful transition, but I believe that was her soul’s way of telling us she was ready.

I was the youngest child.  Her last born and my siblings are all older; 15, 13 and 11 years my senior.  It felt fitting that as the last born, I should be with her as she died.  I was the last one whose heart beat with hers and I was there to feel her last heartbeats.

As I felt those last beats and watched her final breaths, I felt curiosity and relief and yes, beauty.  I did not feel fear or revulsion or panic.  The circle was closed.  Her life was complete, as was my role in helping her die.

We moved back to Michigan in the summer of 2013.  When people asked me what brought me back to my home state after being gone for 27 years, I couldn’t answer them. I honestly didn’t know.  It happened quickly and with some invisible guidance that I just didn’t question.

I loved Colorado and I miss it desperately, but for some reason, we needed to be here.  Now, I can clearly see the plan and the unfolding.  I moved back to help my mom die.  In the process, I lost others who prepared me for this mission. The other deaths forced me to come to terms with the impermanence of everything.

I also think that it’s no coincidence that our northern Michigan farm sits behind a cemetery.  I’ve spent hours wandering through it, feeling the energy, pondering the notion that all of its residents used to walk the earth, just as I am now.  Some died relatively young, but many lived into their 8th, 9th and even 10th decades and now they are a memory.  As we all will be. And that’s okay.  It’s not scary, it is the human condition and better to embrace it, than deny it.

And so, 2016 and I fulfilled our destiny.  This was a year of completion.  My obligation and commitment to my mother is finished; we watched over her, protected her and ultimately, fulfilled her wishes.  She and my dad’s ashes will be combined and buried together sometime in the early summer.  They are back together in the ether, surely dancing and laughing and holding hands.

RIP Mama. RIP Ember.  Thank you 2016; you have been a gift.

If you feel moved to make a donation in my mother’s memory, I would love to suggest Great Lakes Hospice Foundation .  Thank you.

January 1, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

On dying….

Sat down to write in my joucandle-with-flame-1rnal this morning and this came out.  Stream of consciousness and I figured I would go ahead and post it.  Raw form. No edits.

I had a reiki session yesterday as I’ve been feeling sooooo low.  Not as bad as a week or so ago, but just full of dark sludge.  My 96 year-old Mom is not doing well and when I say that, it’s more of an energetic thing than a physical one.

My visits with her are beautiful and tragic and necessary.  My reiki goddess, Charlotte had very good advice when she said to just ‘be with her’.  I don’t have to ‘do’ anything; maybe that’s my job.  To bring her along toward death and acceptance and letting go of this physical plane.

Some of the things that have happened over the past few weeks show me that I’m supposed to be there in these situations.  To be there when she falls, is scared and confused and as Anne Lamott says, to simply ‘bring her a glass of water’.  I can’t change her situation, I can’t turn the clock back or forward, I can only wait with her for the day when she transitions to spirit.

This is very hard for me.  I’m an action person.  A deep thinker, but also driven to do something, to initiate movement of some sort and in this situation, that is just not possible or productive or kind.  Her spirit is leaking out, as is her life force and I can only sit with her, offering comfort and love and security.

Dying is a profound act.  From the beginning of time, humans have feared it, wondered about it, attempted to explain it, run from it, denied it and ultimately we must accept it.  I have accepted that I will lose her and since she has told me many times that she has been here long enough, I welcome the end of her life in this physical incarnation.

There was a time when I was absolutely paralyzed with the fear of losing my parents. I’ve written about it and I discussed it with a counselor.  Over the past 3 years, I’ve been in an intense and instructive death lesson, having lost two dogs, my dad and a dear friend.  This got my attention.

And though I’m still pissed off at their passing; that I can’t hold them, call them, consult them or just know they are sharing my earth space, I have been able to formulate a spiritual knowing that death is not the end.

I firmly believe that we live on as spirit and that the moment that we leave this physical body, will free us and expand us and turn us into pure light and love.  That knowledge has erased much of my fear around my own death and has greatly helped me deal with and process the many and inevitable losses that come with being human.

So, death and dying confront us all.  At some point, we all take that final breath and our ancestors will appear to lead us back to our pure essence; our authentic spirit and soul self.

My job now is to hold my mom’s hand until she lets go.  And that is enough.

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Story of Mojo

mojoWe lost our dog Ember in May.

I wrote about her death after she was hit by a delivery truck in our driveway.

I wrote about forgiving the driver.

I wrote about how I handled her death and held her body and buried her in the center of my medicine wheel garden.

I haven’t yet written about the solo, 3600 mile, healing pilgrimage that I made to sacred places in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana after her death.  But, I will.

I’m not overstating it when I say that her death and the circumstances surrounding her death were some of the most painful and transformational events of my life.  There was something mystical about it.  Here is the next chapter:

On June 1st, while I was wandering around Badlands National Park, breathing in the energy and working on clearing my heart of the oppressive grief that I felt, 5 puppies were born in Colorado.  They were Jack Russell Terriers from the same family as our dogs Chili (also a devastating loss in 2013), Junior and Ember.

My friends Darlene and Mike, sent me photos of the new puppies. They were also grieving Ember’s loss along with us.  She was ‘their dog’, too as she had come from their kennel.

I had no desire for a puppy anytime soon.  The wound was still too raw. I wanted to take plenty of time to allow the grieving process to unfold.  I knew that healing would happen with time.  We would be a one dog family for a year or so.

When these puppies reached about 6 weeks, Darlene told me that one of them, a little boy, had a heart murmur and needed to be checked out by a cardiologist.  Many times puppies will outgrow a minor heart murmur and so I wished her well and didn’t think about it again.

A week later, she had an appointment with a specialty clinic in Denver to have him checked out. Driving to the clinic, she was caught in traffic.  An accident had closed the freeway and she wasn’t able to get to the appointment.

Frantically, she called a terrier owning friend who recommended another specialty clinic north of Denver with a great cardiologist and she was able to get an appointment.

At that clinic, they were told that “Dipstick” as they’d started calling him due to his black tail, was in congestive heart failure. He had a large hole in his heart.  Surgery, costing thousands of dollars was the only thing that would save his life.  He was 9 weeks old.

They admitted that they just couldn’t swing that amount of money for the pup.  It was a horrible decision to have to make, but the cardiologist was so taken with Dipstick, she said they would do the surgery, no charge.   Out of the blue.  Just like that.  They said, “we’ll save him”.

And they did.  As soon as he was out of surgery, his BP and heart rate were normal. He was up and eating within 24 hours.  A miracle.

The docs said the hole was so big that they couldn’t fix it laparoscopically; they had to open him up and use sutures to close the hole in his heart.  The entire team was in the operating room, watching and rooting for “Dippy” as they called him.

I had no idea that all of this was happening, other than being told that he needed this surgery and that this group of wonderful angels had offered to save his life.

I was telling my husband this story and told him that once he was healed, they would place him in a good home.  He said “Did you raise your hand?”  This comment was from a man who fought me on every single puppy that I’ve brought home.  Who declared loudly after every pet loss, “NO NEW DOGS”.

I hadn’t spoken one word about a new puppy after we lost Ember.  It was still too painful for me and I knew what his reaction would be.

So, the next morning, I meditated on this.  I had decided that we should wait on another puppy. I was hoping for another girl dog.  I didn’t think we had taken enough time to grieve and adapt to our new normal.

But, as I sat in meditation, I heard this: “You all have a hole in your heart and so does he.  You can heal your hearts together”.  Truly.  That is exactly what came to me.

This little dog was full of magic.  He had such a strong spirit to survive for so long with a hole in his heart.  His spirit reached out and grabbed a group of veterinarians when they saw him and propelled them to do a wondrous and compassionate and extraordinarily generous thing.  That is some very good mojo.

I have no doubt that part of that strength and part of that charm came from Ember’s spirit visiting him.  I see Chili’s sweet, wise soul in his eyes.

Mojo saw his docs last Thursday and they declared him cured.  Fixed.  Ready for a long and vivacious terrier life. I’m told some of them had tears in their eyes when they saw how lively and happy he is with his strong, healthy heart.

There is something mystical about this story.  When I weave it all together and see the unseen forces working to bring this pup to us, I’m in awe.

Had he not been sick. Had Darlene not missed the first appointment.  Had I not sat in meditation.  And yes, had we not lost Ember.  Life is so uncontrollable and mixed up and perfect.

He will come to live with us very soon.  He has to.  Spirit wouldn’t have it any other way.

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

The End Times

lightIt feels as if we are being overtaken by chaos.  The massive, scary and often, violent events in the world seem as if they are happening in more rapid succession than ever.  Shootings, bombings, coups, Brexit, riots; a global primal scream that we can watch in real time, all over the world.

My husband mentioned Armageddon or apocalypse the other day while we were watching the news out of Nice, France and then Turkey the next day.  I started thinking about that.

Many have predicted ‘the end times’ in scripture (not necessarily Christian, but that too) and various prophesies.   They usually have a similar theme: “God” sends a flood or famine or wars or Christ, etc. to cleanse us, so that we can begin again with a kinder, gentler humanity.

So, maybe that IS what’s happening.  Maybe this IS Armageddon or some sort of ‘end times’.  It all feels very Old Testament right now.  Wars, retribution, tribalism, closing borders, shutting down, pulling inward. FEAR, FEAR, FEAR!  ANGER, ANGER, ANGER!

We hear calls for ‘tougher’ leaders.  Someone who will shut us in our castle and fill the moat with alligators and land mines to keep the bad guys out.  We’ll close ourselves off because the rest of the world doesn’t have our best interests at heart.  THEY WANT TO KILL US!

Tribal.  Low energy.  Not taking responsibility for our past actions.  Not recognizing that our aggression and arrogance may have caused and fostered much of this violence.

There are many stories of these types of societies and kingdoms in the Bible and they are usually beset with horrors from God as punishment, until they are eradicated or they repent.

So, is this what’s happening?  Is this the proverbial flood that washed the earth clean for Noah?  It’s interesting that many of the most devout are not seeing their culpability in many of our current conflicts.  It’s ‘everyone else’.

The ‘end times’ are supposedly paving the way for the return of Christ.  But, many feel that he will not return as a man or a woman or a human, but instead as a consciousness.  Christ Consciousness.  We carry this consciousness and can all become Christ like.  We love, forgive, realize our connections to all that is.  We care for everyone and everything. We see the earth as a living, breathing entity, rather than something to pillage and crap on.

We truly love our neighbors, even if we don’t much like them or agree with them.  We treat them with empathy and respect.  All of the things that Jesus taught us the first time around, will flower in the consciousness and energy of man.

This is also the prophecy of ‘the new age’ that many feel is upon us.  Maybe this is the complete chaos and degradation that has to happen in order for us to rise from the ashes.  We have to get so sick of the dysfunction, lies, violence, anger, hatred, barbarism and hypocrisy that we finally surrender; we ‘see the light’, we alter our outlook and reactions and begin to see that love is our true nature.

It’s what all of the ancient texts of every religion and spiritual teachings say.  Love yourself because God loves you.  Love your fellow humans, love the earth, love nature, love your enemies.  Can you imagine what would happen if we all just followed the basic rules laid out since the beginning of time?

What if we stopped digging in our heels about our political beliefs?  What if we began to find our commonality?  What if we all just admitted that we’re scared shitless right now and that we know in our gut that in order to change the world, we have to heal ourselves, first and foremost.  What if we just admitted that we know damned well that no politician is going to fix this huge, monstrous, complex, corrupt, crazy world?

Again, I will use this word: surrender.  Surrender to your inner light that says more love is necessary.  That anger and hating makes you feel awful and is the real root of our collective pain.  We WANT to love and be loved.  We want to live peacefully and in order to do that, we have to surrender to our true nature.

Yes, I’m a dreamer.  I know that you’re saying I’m naïve and it’s ‘kill or be killed’.  But at some point, we do have to alter this path of escalation and retribution because it’s causing more and more and more trauma and trauma causes people to behave badly.

We are processing thousands of years of human history right now.  That’s what’s happening.  We’ve reached a breaking or tipping point where the vast majority of humans on this planet have collectively realized their ancestral pain and have begun expressing it.  The light bulb has gone off and they see that they are not benefiting from modern life in the ways that they were promised.

All of this chaos is necessary.  It’s shining a light on people’s pain and suffering; we can’t fix that, until we  acknowledge it.  So, here we are, all of us standing in that bright light and we can’t get away.  That’s as it should be.  Allow the light to cleanse and infuse your spirit and then go shine it on the world.

 

July 17, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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