Imagine All the People Sharing the World…

treeAfter I attended yet another funeral, I realized the power of our shared experiences as human beings.  At a time when our country feels so polarized, I am reminded that we are all born, live, and die in very similar ways.

After walking through the receiving line at the small funeral pallor, I was funneled into the area that held the various collages of family photos.  This part of a viewing is one of the most difficult for me.  Spread before the viewer is the unfolding of a well lived life.  There’s the photo of the deceased leaning on the side of the parked car.  He smiles from the top of the lifeguard stand on the beach long after the beach has cleared.  He stands behind his family with his arms draped on the shoulders of his two stepchildren, looking proud and happy.  I think back to my grandmother’s funeral, my best friends younger sister’s funeral, the funeral for my twenty-four year old cousin who died of Cystic Fibrosis and I remember the photos of their faces, lit from ear to ear with joy and life.  Pictures from proms and birthdays and weddings. Pictures from Christmases, Easters, and Halloweens all gone by and these moments stand in littered array at the end of their lines.  People pause and point at their favorites or they find the pictures that show occasions they also attended and they wipe the tears from their cheeks or they grin slightly at the memory.

We are all ushered into this world the same way.  A woman has carried us with her for many months and when the time was right for our entrance, we entered.  We live through holidays and celebrated experiences that were created by our society to remind us of our family or our unwavering traditions.  We live through ordinary days that are created by our jobs or our education.  Finally, we will meet our ends in whatever way has been determined and our visage will be only seen through the technology of the time that has preserved it.  How can we not see these major commonalities as a force that can unite us as opposed to divide?  Why can’t the knowledge of these things bring us together for the good of all and the view that all humanity matters?  Perhaps then people can stop being seen as illegals, or refugees, or welfare recipients or racists or pro-lifers.  We will never end bias by being biased.  It will only end when the things that make us similar outweigh the things that make us different.  It will end when we all support the other for the good of our world, not just our family, our community, our society, our country.

John Lennon sang it in 1971:

“You may say I’m a dreamer but I am not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.”




Mortality and the Empath

Last night I had a really difficult conversation with my two little boys. I told them that I was going to another funeral.  This is my third funeral in just one month’s time, and I have to be honest, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the thin line that separates us from life and death.  As an Empath, I feel so many things, and the one thing I know deep within myself is that we are all connected. I know that when I die, the part of me that connects with this Universe will go back to its metaphysical state.  It is only my physical self that will be gone, but my physical self is doing a really big job right now: taking care of my boys.


When I told them that I was going to another funeral, my seven-year-old looked at me with melancholy eyes, “I don’t want you to ever die, Momma.”  I put my hand on his cheek, and I wanted to tell him that will never, ever happen, but there was something in me that stopped the words from forming.  It was the piece of me that knows the stories of children who lose parents and they never recover, they never move on.  The death of the parental figure scars them for life, and they become stagnant and filled with fear.  My ex-husband was one of these people.  His father died suddenly in his sleep after his 42nd birthday.  My ex-husband was only 14 years old at the time.  He was damaged by this loss and also from the reaction of his mother.  She shut down and went into herself.  She convinced her boys that their lives had changed for the worse and there was no climbing out.  She taught my ex-husband that life is unfair and it needlessly takes the ones we love.  She taught him that the death was the end of everything and needed to be feared and fought.  She raised a man who was negative, dark and afraid.  I was scared that if something did happen to me, the boys would not be able to see the world in the right way again.  I felt that this was one of those moments that I could teach them something they could use if the worst happened.

“Well,” I answered, “I do not think that is going to happen for a long, long time, but here is what you can do if it does.”  My ten year old looked up from his Pokemon cards.  “You can know that you are not alone and that I am always with you.  You can know that all you have to do is say my name, and I will find a way to be with you, even if you can’t see me.”

“But how will we know you are there if we can’t see you?” One of them asked.  It was a good question.

“You will feel me there,” I answered.  They both raised an eyebrow.

“No, really, Mom.  How can we know?”  They both asked at once.  I had to really think and then it came to me.

“I will send you a sign,” I said.  “What should it be?  If you call for me, I will be there and you will know you because I’ll give you this sign.”

“Hmmm,” my oldest started.  “You mean like a street sign?  How about a stop sign?”

“No,” I said.  “It has to be something like a bird or a penny in the street. ”

“Oh, ok, how about a butterfly?”  He pointed to the butterfly tattoo on my ankle.  “Whenever I see a butterfly, I will know it is you.”  I nodded in agreement, and we all determined that this would be the sign.

“So this way you can know that I will always be with you and looking out for you no matter what.” The boys seemed okay with this idea and we moved on to talk about simpler things. The next day was a play date with my son’s friend, Jake. Ellen’s 60th birthday special was on again today.

The conversation moved on, but I am still stuck in my head.  Is it wrong to discuss these types of things with two young boys?  Does it do more harm than good to have conversations about morbid what if scenarios?  Will I truly have the ability to send a sign when I am gone?  I still don’t have the answers, but I hope that I in some way made a tough situation a bit better for them.  Perhaps someday, many years in the future, when they are grown and old and I pass on, they will be sitting somewhere sunny and a small butterfly will land next to them and they will think of me.

Today I Read a Dying Man’s Thoughts and Feelings

About three months ago, my friend was showing me pictures from her girls’ weekend away.  As we were laughing and flipping through the images on her iPhone, one picture stood out.  It was one of her friends smiling happily at the camera as she stood there waiting for her picture to be taken.  Images started to enter my mind and the words “husband issues”.  She didn’t feel divorced.  In fact, she felt happily married.  I could see a very attractive man in a suit whom she liked very much.  Again the words repeated again and again.

I had to ask.  “Does this woman have husband issues?”  

“Why do you ask?” My friend responded.  She is very aware of my abilities.  She watches me read my students all of the time, so she definitely believes that I see things that do not seem possible.

“Every time I look at her, I hear the words husband issues.  Does that make sense to you?”

“What else do you see?”  I described the husband and explained how she felt happy in her marriage, so these words did not make sense.  “Well, while we were away, her husband’s building where he worked had a fire.  He is a big business guy and all of the offices in his building were destroyed by the fire and the water as they tried to put it out.  Intrigued, she wanted me to read more.  There was her friend who I could read was a nurse who hated her job and was struggling with drug addiction.  She had me look at her sister who had serious animosity and was hiding some of her mother’s things in her closet until after her mother died.  Everything I felt was validated and very true.  I realized that I could read vibes through photographs, which I had always wondered at, but I never got actual validation.

Today she me a photograph of an older couple.  It was clearly taken in the 70s.  

“Why do you want me to look at this?”  I asked.

“Just tell me what you think,” she said.  At first I felt nothing, and then I felt something from the man in the picture.  He is sick. He is dying.  He cannot speak.  I kept feeling like I wanted to speak. I felt like I had so much to say, and I couldn’t get the words out. I told my friend all of this.  She nodded her validation.  His wife was another story.  At first I wanted to say that she was dead or they were divorced. I felt a separation, but then I also felt like she was caring for him through this time.  It didn’t make any sense.

“He’s ready to die, but he’s afraid.  Why do I feel like his wife is there helping him, but he doesn’t see her or appreciate her help?”

“Well,” she answered, “she died eighteen years ago.”  So that made sense.  She was clearly by his side, but he just couldn’t see her yet.

“His body wants to die, but he is so afraid.  It feels like he wants a religious person there,  but he feels like he is unworthy.  He feels the need to be forgiven, but he is afraid that he will be rejected.  Has he broken from his religion?”

She nodded again.  “He was a born-again Christian, and he left the church.”  I kept putting my hand up to my mouth as if a could project my words.  The fear he was feeling was coursing through me.  I kept getting chills through my whole body.  

“He can’t say it. He almost doesn’t want to say it, but he needs to see a priest or a pastor.  That’s what’s holding up his death.  He is ready, but he is so afraid.”  It was at this point that my friend, Cindy, told me that she showed me this picture because another of her friends asked her to.  This is a picture of her friend’s father.  He is dying from lung cancer and cannot speak.  He is still holding on and no one knows why.  Her friend was hoping I could help.  Again I felt chills through my whole body.

“Cindy,” I said, “I know I am not always right, but I am right this time.  I can feel this very clearly.  He needs a religious figure to forgive him.  I know this is right and real.”

Even now I am here in my living room watching Blue’s Clues with my boys, and I can feel this man’s fear.  I will never meet him or even his daughter, but I know what he is feeling as he dies.  I hope this helps him.  I keep praying that someone listens or that some comfort can get to that man so he can know what I know.  Death is only the beginning.  He has nothing to fear.  

This experience makes me feel good that i can help and scared of what I can see.  How much farther down does this rabbit hole go?