Tonight, I had the joy of interviewing Annie Kagan, who wrote the book The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad Boy Brother Proved To Me That There Is Life After Death on my show It’s All About Relationships and she shared the messages that came from her brother who died after being hit by a car, while on drugs. With a long term history of addiction, he found peace in death and offered words as comforting information to his sister and then she passed it on to grateful readers. A grounded woman, with a degree in Chiropractic, a musician and yogini as well, this experience came as a surprise to her and initially, she questioned her sanity and stability, since she was grieving. When it became apparent that he was sharing information that he would have no other way of knowing.
Death is a mystery for many of us. It is part of the flow of life and yet, it carries with it a sense of fear of the unknown. If we believe in life after death and/or reincarnation (I do), then we may have forgotten that there is something more than this day to day existence. Imagine if you will, that somewhere in the ‘heavenly nursery’, you are floating in awesome amniotic fluid, awaiting a slide down the birth canal. Would you be frightened or exhilarated? I have been present at the death of friends, family members and residents in nursing homes where I had been employed as a social worker and had thought of it as being like a mid-wife on the other end of the life spectrum. When my mom was on her hospice journey back in 2010, she told me about a dream she had. She was about to climb onto a water slide with a little boy and girl; one behind her and one in front of her. She shared in a child’s voice,when at the top of the slide “I was really scared, but by the time I got to the bottom, I was having such a good time! What do you think it means?” I laughed and asked “What do YOU think it means, Mom?” She got a knowing look, but couldn’t voice her interpretation. At that point, she was still in the ‘just don’t know’ mode, while I was certain that it was a beckoning to her next incarnation. As the time of her passing got closer, she too became certain that my father would come for her (“He told me he would.”) and that it was safe to go down the slide. Wheeee~
http://youtu.be/ebtC3ORg9fU All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
Life is eternal, and love is immortal,
and death is only a horizon;
and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
~Rossiter Worthington Raymond
Death is such a strange and multi-faceted experience. Yesterday, I witnessed my sister Jan and her family as they said goodbye to her husband, and their father Pete. A simple man with complicated emotions that sometimes ran him. A long term illness that set the agenda for daily dynamics that literally had my sister running herself ragged. Love and loss in one package. Knowing that he is no longer suffering, is a relief to everyone who knew him. Knowing that the healing is beginning for Jan and the kids is a relief to me. Seeing them grappling with losing him and all the things that would mean for their lives, has been challenging. Although their process is not about me, I can’t help but have an emotional reaction to the situation. First and foremost, I know that they are all enwrapped in a huge quilt of support comprised of family and friends. People came out en masse to one or more of the trifecta of ceremonies to honor his passing; the viewing, the mass, since Pete was Catholic, and the graveside service. The priest spoke at one point about not knowing the day of our death, so we need live as fully and lovingly as possible, focusing on the good in life.
I was glad to see cousins with whom we had grown up, show up in support of the family. Our parents used to gather every month or so for Cousins Club meetings and now my generation gets together for weddings, funerals, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I gazed at their gracefully seasoned faces: Ricky, Steve and Teddy-brothers who, along with Jan and me, are part of the ‘Adult Orphans’ club since losing their father earlier this year and Roz whose grandmother and mine (as well as that of the aforementioned R, S and T:) were sisters. Her parents are among the last of my parents’ generation. My BFF Barb whose father recently passed after celebrating his 90th also came out to be with us. We gave knowing nods when she walked in to the funeral home.
We all carry the woundings and wonder of looking death in the face and knowing that there is more to it than closed eyes and still hearts. Before Michael died in 1998, I heard these distinct words from Beyond: “Everyone is on loan to you.” and then more recently, “Everyone you now know and love will one day die or leave you, or you will die or leave them.” Those comfort, rather than frighten me and I live each day as if this could be my last. Sometimes I forget (that darn spiritual amnesia) and get caught up in fretting over minutia.
Such a mish-mosh of juxtaposed emotions; tears and laughter; the silly and the somber. When we grieve well, we leave room for spaciousness that lets every emotion take the stage as they do, sometimes all at once. The totality of the human experience.
Wishing Pete the peace that he didn’t experience in life and wishing my sister and the kids, beginning anew.
http://youtu.be/1eR1ni6sZK4 Life Is Eternal- by Carly Simon
Did you ever have an experience of entering a store and an item would simply not let you exit without it coming home with you? That happened to me yesterday when I walked into Centre For Vibrant Living Kennett Square, PA where I taught a workshop called Living A Ridiculously Amazing Life. How amazing was this? A lovely, hand-painted mirror created by a local artist beckoned me, well; downright seduced me to fall in love with it. For right now, it is hanging on my bedroom wall above an altar that contains feathers, photos of loved ones, candles, a tiny tree branch, mala beads and other spiritual ritual items, as well as some of my most precious possessions…books. I think it will travel to workshops with me as a prop to remind participants of their true identity.
What does it mean to be a star?
To beam brightly
To burst forth in the darkness
To guide people
To grant wishes
To leave a legacy, since they are visible ages after they burn out
To be an example
To be center stage
To form a constellation
To be sparkly
In your own life, how to do embody these qualities?
Sometimes it feels easier to hide in the darkness, since brilliance can be intimidating. As Marianne Williamson has written:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I know for myself that my own power and light scare the heck out of me. When I see myself reflected in the eyes and hearts of those in my life, I am humbled AND when I don’t feel so dazzling, along comes someone (usually my son) to reflect that back to me as well. He mirrors my deepest fears of inadequacy and then I find myself (or lose myself) becoming angry and frustrated which dims my light even further.
For today, I dare you and I dare me to shoot wildly across the sky, blazing a trail for others to follow~
http://youtu.be/tGrWCqI4DXU Everybody Is A Star by Sly and The Family Stone
This morning I saw a powerful line in a thread on Facebook: “If you see something, say something.” It was related to a man witnessing a dog left in a sweltering car in the parking lot of a restaurant. His sense of concern and outrage were in equal measure and it prompted him to go inside, get water for the distressed critter and was about to call the police when the dog’s people arrived with their take out food. He confronted them on their carelessness and they reacted defensively and then went on their way. Whether these people were conscious of how hot it gets in a car, in a very few minutes, even with windows open, that is only part of the story. Ken spoke up for one who couldn’t speak for him or her self.
We see everyday what happens when people don’t speak up. The rape culture thrives on that mentality. Consider what happened a few months ago, when it came out that a young girl was raped at a party by a few of her ‘friends’ (peers, classmates) and not only did the others who also claimed to be her friends, not intervene, but some recorded the activities and posted them on line. How horrific and how irresponsible on so many levels. She was violated physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I remember when I was in my 20’s, driving in Philly late at night and I stopped at a gas station and at another pump, saw a man with a gun, attempting to rob someone. Now, I didn’t directly intervene; I’m not THAT crazy, but I hightailed it out of there to the nearest payphone (that was pre-cell phone era) and dialed 911 and with very shaky voice told the dispatcher what I saw. Hopefully the police got there before something tragic occurred. I’m no hero. I just followed my conscience and what I was taught by my parents; that you help because you can. Imagine if you were the one in need.
The same holds true if we witness domestic violence, child abuse or animal abuse. I ALWAYS step in in one form or another. We are all responsible to each other.
Bless you, Ken for seeing it and saying it. Tail wags and paw claps for you!
Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward stays in a parked car on a summer day to see how dangerous it is to leave a pet inside a car.