It’s early evening and dark. It’s been dark since the afternoon on this cloudy day. I suddenly realized that it’s not only the early nights, it’s darker all day at this time of year. Funny that I never consciously noticed this before even though I know that we don’t get enough sun to make the vitamin D we need during Canadian winters.
It seems an appropriate time for my sister to be dying…into the dark. Two weeks ago her doctor told her after an MRI that she only has a few months left with her brain cancer and she decided to stop treatment and let go. She said, “I’m done.”
The shock is rippling through our family. Lili is only 55 and has two adopted children, 10 and 12. She has always been vibrant, active, beautiful, extraordinary, strong-willed and, underneath all that, struggling and suffering. It’s very strange that she is leaving first of the three of us, the middle child between my younger brother and myself. She herself says she thought it would be me. I thought so too for many years and it’s giving me something akin to survival guilt to be getting noticeably healthier and stronger as she declines…
I’ve also been in denial and figuring out all kinds of strategies to keep her here, hoping much too hard for a miracle. She’s having none of it and I finally saw that I was annoying her; more than that, I wasn’t being respectful. So over the last few days I’ve been accepting her decision in myself, refocusing on helping her have a healing death. I’ll move down there soon to stay with her until she crosses over, coming back once a month to run the healing group.
Grandson Felix will stay here with his mother and her partner, a big shift for him after being with me most of his life. One of the many changes in our family due to Lili’s illness. I’m sorry that’s what it took to move us further along, but that is common and normal, one of the numerous blessings available at death.
Over the years I have had many startling experiences of people, or rather their spirits, after they had died. I went from being a total atheist to a total believer in what I now affectionately call “the other side”. When I shared a few of my stories with Lili’s 12 year old son Simon, his eyes went wide and his energy went from being in despair to being intrigued, even excited. I’ve seen this several times with children; it’s as if they remember where they came from more easily than adults. The wonderful part of knowing this is that conscious healing can continue after people die. Often it’s much easier. We can also help them orient themselves to not having a body with our love, reassurance and prayers.
Of course the biggest blessing brought by the dying of close ones is the reminder of what is important: love, resolving and letting go of issues between us and stopping our activities to be in the moment with the person to share sacred space. The veil of the material world becomes thinner and we have glimmers of who we really are.
It’s not an easy time. I find myself faced with my own issues and fears and realize that here lies my path if I’m to be of any help to Lili. I pull out my tools and focus on working through my own pain instead of being too busy with all the inevitable logistics that arise during this phase of life. We are profoundly fortunate to have this special dying process, to be able to stop working and be with each other, to have enough support. I feel grateful and surreal…
breathing through the minutes,