I see you, beautiful light

Over the two days my friend Brenda was dying, three times she looked at me with eyes which were not hers. There was something huge in them. It was a vision of the greater Brenda: it was rich and velvety, with a fathomless depth that was riveting. That immense presence, the real Brenda momentarily revealed, was fully aware and alive even as her body was letting go. In her eyes, I could see the truth of what had been living out the Brenda story for the 64 years she experienced this world. I could feel — for an instant — the astonishing love of which she was made.

The first time I saw eyes like that was a week before my husband died. Coming out of a coma in ICU, Mike looked up and over my shoulder as I leaned over his bed in the middle of the night. Sounding very disappointed, he said, “oh honey, the door just closed. And Pat was here. Where did he go?” Mike’s brother Pat had died by suicide at Christmas thirteen years before. Where did Pat go? He went back to his real life, back through that door which briefly connected the two worlds, closing it behind him. “The door just closed.”

It was only a few days later, while still in the hospital, that Mike looked at me over breakfast and matter of factly said, “I’m going to die.” I suspect his brother had given him that news the night of his visit. “Hey bro. You’re coming with us. Not right now, but soon.” Mike never talked about dying, not ever. When he looked at me after this shocking pronouncement, he had those eyes. I saw the being beyond the Mike suit, the vastness of who he really was inside the husband costume he wore in life. Those eyes told me it was true and it broke my heart. Five days later, he was gone.

Christmas of 2012, a few days before my father’s death, I was leaving his room at the nursing home. Cursed with vascular dementia, daddy didn’t recognize me anymore. Yet as I bent over to say goodbye, he clearly said, “just a minute.” Then he turned his head, looked up to the corner of the room, held up his hand and said, “Stop talking! I am saying goodbye to Lynette. Come back in 30 minutes.” When he turned back to me, there it was in his eyes. The luminous presence of love and all-that-is-ness which I’d witnessed in Mike just three months before. I have no doubt he was communing with spirit in that instant. He’d scarcely been lucid for weeks and suddenly he was there, sounding like he always did. For a moment, his soul came to the fore and I really saw him. My sweet, loving father was revealed for the divine being he really was.

I once talked to a 17-year-old mother who had held her hand over her child’s mouth and nose until the two year old ceased to breathe. She then took a shower, dried her hair, applied makeup, and, after once again checking her daughter, ambled slowly to the neighbor’s house where she called 911. “My daughter stopped breathing. Can I get an ambulance?”

Aside from the chilling lack of emotion in this confession, what I remember most about that interview was her eyes. They were flat, impenetrable. The phrase “no one home” is apt. We might say she looked inhuman, but I suspect in that place and time she was aware of only her humanness with not an inkling of her soul’s presence within. Obviously there was a deep disturbance within her human being. It wasn’t the first time she had hurt her child, but this time she’d gone too far.

When my mother vanished just before Christmas in 1969, the FBI, OSBI, and our state newspapers publicized her disappearance using a photo taken a few months before. My sisters and I detested that picture. In it, her eyes looked dead and tortured. There was nothing of our loving, kind, vivacious mother in them. The photo perfectly captured her state of being as it was when she disappeared, though. Deeply depressed and bereft of hope, in that state of human suffering her eyes were those of a stranger. Unrecognizable.

As awakening people we are encouraged to live our lives somewhere in the wide open space between fully human and fully spirit. A good balance in that mix is the goal, though these days I prefer to inhabit the spirit side as much as I can. It feels so delicious, I can’t help it. Who wouldn’t want to live that way? But mostly, we want to experience both. I shout sailor words at a motorist who runs a red light, then my heart swells with love and I rescue an injured animal or extend my hand and my heart to someone who’s hurting. The human experience is exactly this: the endless rhythm of flowing from one state of being to the next, experiencing all of it, our beautiful souls and our beautiful, flawed human selves.

We were pure spirit before we came so we’ve got that down. Our humanness, though, that’s another story. And it’s that experience which drew us back here. Given the vicissitudes of this life, its agonies and traumas, the very idea we’d choose to come here seems ludicrous, but our souls make no distinction among experiences. In spirit terms, it’s all good, the joys as well as the sorrows.

My friend, the talented medium, Sandy Soulsister, gave me a reading when she was just beginning her studies. The connection with my mother was crystal clear and deeply healing. Among many other notable messages — stories for another day — Sandy remarked several times on my mother’s eyes. “They are sparkling, her eyes. They’re so alive. She’s really drawing my attention to them again and again.” And a few minutes later, “she’s bringing me back to her eyes again, there’s something really important there. Do you understand this?”

It was what mediums call a super hit, a bell ringer. At that point Sandy could not have known the trauma of that last image of my mother the three of us carried for over forty years. Like all skilled mediums, Sandy maintained a clear channel, relaying the message without knowing how meaningful and healing it truly was. In spirit, my mother was free of her human state. The eyes she showed us were sparklingly alive, showing the truth of her.

Absent our human facades, our souls shine brightly. My mother, freed of the Audrey story, was once again who she was, a splendid being of love and light. I glimpsed that same awe-inspiring presence in Brenda, in Mike, and in my father. Because there is one energy inhabiting the universe, I know that the 17 year old who murdered her daughter also shines brightly at the soul level. With her humanness turned up full blast, I couldn’t see her in that interview but the fabric of her construction is love, just like every other one of us. Once we slip out of our human suits, who we are can’t be denied. That troubled young woman’s soul is in there, waiting to sparkle, waiting to be revealed in all of its majesty.

We are all that magnificence. Our humanness wants retribution for the dreadful things that happen here. Our souls know that all is well. The guides of my spiritual teacher, Suzanne Giesemann, tell us that no one comes here with the intention of hurting another, and yet it happens. Our challenge is to remember that there is light within each of us, no matter how unlikely that may seem.

Look at the eyes. Shoot, look in a mirror at your own eyes right now. Keep looking. Hold that gaze, hold it … there. Do you see? Inside each of us — inside of me, inside of you — just barely hidden (and at times deeply hidden), there is the magnificence of All That Is. You are that. All of us, every living creature in existence and beyond is that. Me too. And I see you, beautiful light.

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why a blog? why now?

IMG_6062.JPGBlogs are so 2005, aren’t they? But since the fading away of my first effort, the aptly named Big Ass Belle, I’ve continued writing stories about life, love, death, and how we return to ourselves after the worst imaginable, because my own worst possible thing happened in 2012.

Grief and loss will touch every one of us eventually. Some of us seem to get more than our share while others imagine they’re untouchable, until the moment they’re not. And then there are those who experience deaths of loved ones complicated by life’s more troubling aspects: suicide, overdose, medical error, abuse, unforgiveness, and so much more.

That people survive these things and even come to thrive and blossom as a direct result of devastation is hope for all of us. Sharing how that happens is endlessly fascinating and inspiring to me.

Our stories don’t define us but they can shine a light for someone else. The marvelous alchemy which transmutes grief into love, peace, and understanding is mysterious but in my own experience, it’s required a wide open mind and a willing heart.

Mediumship, meditation, shamanism, energy work, and other nontraditional means of healing have provided the foundation for this joyful life I have today. I regularly hear from my dead people and it enriches my life in a way I’d never have thought possible back in the day when concepts like these were a source of amusement.

We all have stories we can tell. I hope you’ll also share yours with me as we go along. One thing I know for sure: life is better done together. I’m really glad you’re here.

brenda, mike, and an angel

In May, at a gathering in Sedona, my friend Brenda held court as she’d always done when we came together, though it would only be a matter of days before she would take her last breath. After a year of chemotherapy and radiation, the bile duct cancer with which she’d been diagnosed had spread to the lungs, liver, and a space behind the heart.

Though she was dying, she’d been filled with sufficient energy to take that long-planned five day trip to Sedona. None of us knew to a certainty that it was her last journey ~ there was always the possibility of healing ~ but it didn’t matter. We were together and we immersed ourselves in the presence of love, all of us in a beautiful place, celebrating our friend and one another.

I had not been back to Sedona since Brenda died, but as I traveled there yesterday morning, my GPS directed me to take what I will forever think of as “the angel trail.” It’s a winding road south of Sedona which neither of us had driven before May. It’s where, in a terrifying ride back to Phoenix the Monday after our get together, Brenda and I both felt the presence of an angel in the car with us.

For non-woo-woo folks, I know that sounds like madness. To make it just a tad woo-woo-ier, though, I’d set a playlist for the trip which was, at the very instant I felt the angel, playing a gorgeous tune called Angel Dreams. Make of that what you will. It happened.

The ride was terrifying because I was certain I’d be hauling her out of the car on the way down, performing CPR. We had one tank of oxygen which, at the rate she was using it, would last 25-30 minutes at most. Sedona is almost two hours from Phoenix. A pulse oximeter showed a blood oxygen level in the low 80s, even with oxygen. I’d suggested to Brenda that trying to get her home was lunacy and a sane, responsible adult would take her to the ER. She refused to go. In retrospect, she was so oxygen-deprived I could have wrestled her into anything but instead, we took off. One dying woman, one small tank of oxygen, and me.

I held her hand and sang to her as we sped down the road, and then an angel was with us. I don’t feel the presence of spirit in the casual way of many of my friends who are mediums. “Oh, your husband/mother/father/son is standing right beside you” will never come out of my mouth. Unless it’s strong and intense, I mostly miss it.

And there it was. Strong. Intense. Unmissable. An angel. I do know that sounds insane, but yes, really, an angel was in the car with us. I said “Brenda, there’s an angel here.” And my friend, who was becoming quite an accomplished medium when she died, said “Yes, I know. I feel it too.”

In my imagination, there was an angelic hand on the tank of oxygen, ensuring we’d make it. We did. An angel was there. We both felt it, but who knows for certain? Whether or not you believe, though, this is a fact: the impossible happened. Thirty minutes of oxygen lasted for two hours. That’s indisputable.

At the same time, a group of friends in two other cars were texting each other about what to do for lunch. Getting Brenda on the road had been a frightening experience for all of us. One of our dear ones texted another about lunch plans, “ask her if she wants hummus with no seasoning,” but what was received was a promise for Brenda and for all of us: “a spring day, she wants Home, sweet nothings.” A message: Brenda was leaving, but she was ready. Angels again.

Returning to the scene of that near disaster this morning, I passed the point where the angel joined us (yes it did), and just around a curve on the angel trail was the Arizona state trout hatchery. When we’d passed it last May going to Sedona, I’d gotten all excited about stopping. I find hatcheries irresistible, but for all of her brilliance, Brenda had little interest in the natural world. She snorted at the prospect of a fish-oriented outing, laughingly played the cancer card, and suggested we stop on the way back instead. On the way back, of course, little fishes were the last thing on my mind. Keeping my friend alive was paramount.

But I do love a good hatchery. All those little slippery babies swarming around? They’re adorable, and if you can get your hands in the water, they feel like silk. I have fond memories of a childhood spent splashing around ponds and lakes, chasing tadpoles, scooping up handsful of baby catfish only to feel their wee silky bodies slipping between my fingers. No access to the water at the hatchery, though, so I contented myself with throwing feed, watching them swarm, and admiring their silvery sides shining in the sunlight.

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And then, magic. Suddenly, a red dragonfly (red!) buzzed by me. Once, then again. Then over and over, back and forth. It was dancing above the surface of the water. I got the intense full body shiver that’s my indicator of spirit’s strong presence and I knew Brenda was standing there with me.

As I watched, I remembered my sweet little husband having mentioned a red dragonfly in a development session I attended with some practicing mediums just a week before, and I thought “Mike? Where are you, honey?”

And in a flash, there were two. Two brilliant red dragonflies putting on a show in this enchanted part of Arizona where I’ve spent such happy times with Mike, with Brenda, and with so many of our spiritual friends. (And with an angel.)

Leaving, I got an image in my mind of the old school switchboard operators, an endless row of busy folk plugging in one line after another. In this vision, all of our loved ones in spirit stand behind, watching the board and the efforts to make contact. When a connection is made, when a sign is received and affirmed by someone in this world, the switchboard lights up and everyone applauds. All of our misty folk ~ those who love us and the ones we love ~ celebrate. Joy fills the room, and then the task continues.

Every day we are shown in small ways and large how much we are cherished by those we’ve lost. Watch for those signs. They’re everywhere if we’re willing to look with our hearts open to love. We are so intensely, deeply loved by those in spirit. I am overwhelmed with gratitude even writing that. I hope you know it ~ and feel it ~ too.

a blog again

Years ago I was sitting in my library on a cold, rainy afternoon. My thoughts turned to the five years I spent in Houston in the late 1970s. I was thinking of my beautiful, lively, dancing friends, men from my Montrose apartment complex who introduced me to the magic of The Old Plantation and other gay discos of that era.

They’re all dead now, having succumbed to the plague a decade after our shiny bright nights, so filled with love and laughter and innocent fun.

That reminiscence led me to google AIDS and plague and that fortuitously led me to the stories of Joe.My.God.  What an epiphany. Joe survived the plague years while living out that nightmare. Heartbreaking doesn’t come close to describing the unending horror of one death after another after another. It was ruinous and yet Joe found beauty in telling the stories of those who survived and those who didn’t.

In that, he is my inspiration. He was blog daddy to a whole raft of us who have kept our connections alive at Joe’s place, on Facebook, and elsewhere.

Stories are healing. They connect us at times when nothing else can. There is great joy and much comfort in recognizing that we are not alone. There is no other. “You too? Not just me? Thank god!”

So I’ve given in to telling the stories again. The last post I wrote on my old blog was called widow, orphan, and what comes after. And much (MUCH!) has come after. Grab some coffee and pull up a chair, because I want to hear your stories too. There is great magic happening in this world if we are willing to open our hearts. Let’s talk about it, yes?

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home again

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When Mike died I became Homeless. I didn’t actually know what to call it then. I only remember how bereft I felt hearing the last beat of his heart, how it changed everything. The world at 3 pm on September 23, 2012, was vastly different from the world one heartbeat later. It even looked different. The light, the sounds, the people roaming around. It was as if it all fractured. Mike was gone. How could the world go on?

It does, of course, no doubt about that. It goes on and on and on, endlessly it too often seems. At a weekend retreat with some of my dear ones a couple of months ago, I became aware of what Mike really was for me. He was more than a husband, more than the love of my life, more than my best friend. He was a very special place of absolute safety and love. When I lost him, I lost that. I was adrift, even after I started coming back into myself, as the most crushing grief was wearing itself out.

The longing to leave this existence was persistent the first few years after his departure. Oh, there was happiness in there. The worst of the agony of loss abated. But lord have mercy, I wanted to go. I wanted Home back and he wasn’t in this world.

In the fall of 2016, my spiritual teacher, Suzanne Giesemann, released a meditation CD called “Journey of Remembrance.” The whole thing is a wonder, but the first time I listened to the first cut, the actual Journey, I heard the voices of Home. In the resonant tones of Sanaya, Suzanne’s guides who inform all of her work and who provided the input for JofR, I heard the promise of getting to go Home again. “You’ve gone off on a journey… for just a little while.”

“For just a little while.” I know this life isn’t forever, but to hear that in spirit time “for just a little while” is like the blink of an eye was a healing promise that made my heart sing. I can’t properly express what that meditation did for me except to say that it cured my Homesickness. Took it away. A four year plague vanished in 30 minutes. Any time I was beginning to feel that ache, that longing to get out of here, I could listen and be transported.

The cure was solid and left me with a sense of joyful anticipation about what was going to come next in this life. Who’d have thought that after too many years spent slogging along, just going through the motions, crossing off the days of my sentence here like the most hopeless prisoner, I’d again find excitement in being in this world? Cured by a 30 minute meditation? I was. I found myself again happy to be alive.

And then, an unexpected relapse. After my sweet friends, Brenda and Grace, died in May, I was once more fed up. Too many of the people I love are in the misty state and while they’re constantly shouting at me (“Enjoy your life! You have no idea how short it is! We’ll be together again soon enough! You have a purpose, live it while you’re there!”) they were really pissing me off for much of the summer.

Hearing of Brenda’s great bliss in being suddenly transported from “here to Here,” her description of what it’s like to die, was maddening. Grace was last seen strolling down our favorite beach, saying “you were right, Lynette. It’s gorgeous here, and the love! OMG!” And Mike. Always with me, but NOT HERE WITH ME!!! Really? Why am I being punished by being left behind? Even my parents weighed in with happy news from the place I’m not. This life again felt like a hell and I don’t even believe in that worn out old lie. It was Homesickness in full force. Misery.

And then something changed. Doesn’t it always? Thank you, Universe! It started with a Divine experience with a shaman, my beloved Raven, in New Mexico in June and it continued at a gathering with my precious ones in Pennsylvania in August. All of the pieces came back together. There’s a wholeness on the inside I haven’t felt since before Brenda and Grace, but it’s even better. I’m back to Not Homesick, but this new and improved version is an exquisite state of being in which I am so at one with gratitude I feel as if I’m overflowing at times.

There’s a sense of being filled up, bursting with the Love of the Universe, perfectly okay with being here ~ excited about it, in fact. These are feelings I’ve missed desperately. I’m glad to be aware again of the magical possibilities in being human “for just a little while” and fully awake to the fact that I’m more than that.

Home now is a state of being and it’s entirely my own. It is knowing Who I Am while wearing this costume of Lynette. It’s being fully engaged in the play while knowing I’m just an actor. It’s knowing that the Light of Consciousness exists as fully in me as it does in all things. I can lose my awareness of Home but Home never leaves me. It’s impossible. I am That. (FYI: you are too.)

I’m Home again. I’m surrounded by the most beloved friends of many lifetimes, gifts of my husband’s death (and there are always gifts in tragedy if we are willing to see them, as hard as that is to stomach when the loss is fresh). It’s heavenly to share this journey with others who also know the truth. I am so grateful. Mike’s leaving six years ago brought me here. Brenda and Grace added to the journey. Each loss can make us greater if we allow it. I’m thankful. I miss him, I miss them all, but I know the truth now.*

*And this is how it works. As I’m wrapping up this little missive, I click a song on Spotify only to hear instead the music that will always remind me of my Brenda and her last 48 hours. These little bits of magic, like breadcrumbs through the forest, remind us we’re not alone. That makes for a real heaven on earth.