This past year has been a struggle. There has been pain, but a year is an acceptable amount of time. In the pain I found a deeper life.
My father was a gregarious happy man full of life. As his body started to decay and die before our eyes, I prepared myself in the knowledge that I, perhaps alone within our family circle, understood with complete and absolute certainty that my father will one day not be in his body, but I would be able to still feel him. I knew there is something after death. The souls I am connected to in life will be forever connected to me. Not only are they connected, they are active.
This will happen, to us all. That our bodies die is the one certainty we can all agree upon. Faith in the transformation of the soul is the basis of what all our Christian beliefs are about. Eternal life is within each of us now, if you believe in the soul.
You have a soul, right? Where do you think that is right now? Where does it reside? Most would agree that the soul is an extension of God. The, I am that I am, the Alpha and the Omega. Your soul knows this and sometimes you get glimpses of it when knowing truth or love that hits you like a wave from within and shoots out from your solar plexus. Through intuition, your soul sends you messages or feelings, “I was meant to meet that person today.” or “I love you with every being of my existence.”
Our souls also can feel when a person is gone, when the energy has left the body. Our souls connect and react to each other. This is not something a parent teaches you or that you study in a book. You just know the body of your father is just a shell and his spirit or Devine part of him has left it’s temporary form. However, that energy, that spirit goes somewhere. It does not go to an eternal sleep, it does not fade away. This I know for sure.
It was a year ago that I was driving to my parent’s apartment around 11:30 at night. Crying and saying out loud, “I love you Dad”
I had just received a text from my brother Mike, “I don’t know how to say this, Ed just passed away.” I knew earlier in the evening that the end was near, his shallow labored breathing was the same the night my mother-in-law passed away. He was in the active stages of dying. He was shaking and I tucked him into bed and wrapped the blankets tightly around his body. I swaddled him like a baby and gave him a kiss on the forehead. It was peaceful.
My mother knew he was dying and as the last act of their human relationship, she quietly slipped into bed next to him and caressed him. She reassured him that she was near. When she dozed off for a bit and awoke, she knew he was gone. She whispered her goodbyes and straighten his body and fixed the covers. She took care of him, the man she loved.
When I came back into the apartment a few hours later, there were two young policemen standing in the living room with my mother and brother. I looked at my mother and then immediately walked through the closed door to the bedroom where I left my father just a few hours before. I heard my mother say, “Eileen, you can’t go in there!”
I didn’t care what she said, or what the police would say. I needed to see him. I didn’t have to touch him. I said, “You’re gone.” Then I looked around the room and said, “But you are here, aren’t you?”
Ed, of course was present, because he orchestrated the remainder of the evening with his newly released spirit and with all the other spirits who went before him. They sent the two kindest, gentlest police officers to my mother’s aid. My mother didn’t want to wait hours contacting the county morgue, so she call my father’s Oncologist’s cell phone to ask for help. He happened to be driving on the road, leaving a late night shift and passing my parent’s apartment complex as she was calling. He said he would be right over to pronounce my father and then the funeral home could take his body.
The doctor was there within minutes and my mother and I walked him into my parents bedroom. We stood on either side of the doctor while he reached out his hand and caressed my father’s arm a few times before checking for a pulse. The gesture was so sweet and gentle, these two men didn’t’ know each other long enough to show that type of intimacy.
We then left the room and started chatting, making small talk and trying to distract ourselves while the funeral parlor was being summoned. The doctor started chatting with my mother, and they found out that they had similarities in life, connections with Brooklyn. Then he said his wife was a graduate of St. Vincent’s Nursing School in NYC – the same school my mother graduated from.
When the funeral guys came, they suggested we go in another room since seeing the body being wheeled out is upsetting to people. My parent’s small apartment is only two bedrooms with an open living room and kitchen design. The second bedroom had the door taken off so my father’s wheel chair could fit through the door frame a few months earlier. The only place to go that had a door was the garage. As we made our way into the garage, I said to Mike,
“You grab the vodka, I’ll grab the cups and ice.” My father’s favorite drink was vodka on the rocks.
We set the three glasses down on the hood of the Subaru in the winter chill and cracked a few ice cubes from the white ice tray from the freezer. Mike poured a shot of Absolute vodka into each glass.
We said, “To Ed” as we lifted our glasses to the sky and tearfully toasted my father’s life and the silent night that contained a goodbye.
We heard the front door open and the clacking of the gurney’s wheels across the cement walk just outside the garage. I saw shadows in my peripheral vision, past the window that held a blooming red geranium.
Yes, he orchestrated a beautiful goodbye.
That was a year ago today. I have gone deeper into the loss and came out with more understanding of what is means to be a human being. We are the human form, but we are also the being. That, like a Celtic knot, has no beginning or end. It is one continuous, never ending experience which represents eternity. Someday the soul will be released back, it will go home. It will be everywhere and nowhere, without limits, without time, without end.
Here’s to Ed, who is still teaching me lessons. I love you Dad.
You are going to be O.K. – Eileen