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Afraid of Dying

What I fear most about dying, is not knowing for sure where I’m going. I remember when I was in training as an orderly at a nursing home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the training instructor taught us to never just get behind the wheelchair of a patient and start pushing. She explained that while a resident is sitting in their wheelchair, perhaps even dozing off, that the initial start can frighten them half to death, and that not informing the resident beforehand like this, “I’m going to take you to the dining room now, Mr. Schmitz”, erodes the dignity of a resident. They may feel a loss of control.

Would mother Universe please tell me what it will be like? I have begun to form my concept. By working on this gradually, I’ve noticed that my anxiety over transitioning has lessened to a degree. My version that I’m comfortable with for now, goes something like this:

My version is much like what the renowned psychic, Sylvia Browne suggests in her books, which is gleaned from her own psychic journeys beyond with her spiritual guides and from her impressions during psychic readings. In her version, which I easily claim as my belief, is that the real transition itself is painless, and that there is no further attachment to this physical world in the mind.

A tremendous and brilliant white light is our Guide and we will have an overwhelming sense of trust and love in our Guide. Others who have gone before us are there to greet us. Even those beloved pets we lost are there! I’ll see my grandfathers, my mom, even my dogs Heidi, Jessie, and oh my dear CoCo. And my cats Samantha and Maya!

Everyone on the other side looks the way they did when they were around 35 years of age. Communication isn’t through words any longer but rather telepathically. There is a continuous beautiful melody of music everywhere. Time on the other side is different from this world that we know now. What we know as a lifetime to us here is a mere blink of the eye on the other side. Before we know it, those that we left in this world, are right behind us. 

It has been explained to me that we didn’t know where we were going when we were born, or came to this world, and that it is OK not knowing or fully understanding where we’re going when we make our transition. That’s something I’ll have to work on; trusting in mother Universe’s ability to take care of me. Even the last leg of life’s journey is packed full with lessons. Right up until the bell sounds for the next class to begin.

In Memory of My Other Mom, Dorothy

January 23 is the “death day” of my second Mom. Dorothy Eshenbaugh was the step-grandmother of my last partner. I’ve blogged about Dorothy on many occasions. During our brief five years as my “Mother-there-ought-to-be-a-law,” we experienced a lot of life together; there were ups and many downs. But the love between Dorothy and I was always stable. We had a hell of a lot of fun together; we played a lot of Dominoes, laughed our asses off, and cried some too. We’d get mad at one another, like everyone does, but it never lasted for very long. She always knew the easiest way to solve a family argument would be through me and not her step-grandson. Dorothy didn’t like it when we weren’t talking. I remember how she would often hold my hands and those of my partner’s in hers and she’d say; “Now fella’s we have to stick together. We’re all we’ve got as family goes.” You see, Dorothy had a respect for communication between family members. Dorothy was in end stage renal failure, and hadn’t spoken in a few years to her sister, Betty or her mother. But Dorothy and I worked on a beautiful letter that she mailed to her sister so proudly one day. Dorothy was going to put an end to the silence.

Dorothy hardly gave the envelope enough time to get through her own post office before she started checking her mail for a response from her Betty or mother. Then, weeks went by and then months. Dorothy’s sad attitude gradually lifted and she shrugged it off and said, “Wasn’t meant to be I guess.”

Dorothy died on January 23, 2008 of end stage renal failure. I often feared that when the end would come for her that she’d be alone; I knew that was one of her biggest fears as well. When she transitioned from our earth, her beloved companion Rascal was at her side. Dorothy joked that Rascal in a strange way looked a bit like her deceased husband, Robert, who was the love of Dorothy’s life! You know, I never could really disagree with her! I think somehow Robert reincarnated into that dog!

My former partner and I knew that Dorothy’s prognosis didn’t assure us any real definitive time with her before the end would come. So, we made every birthday and holiday as special as we could for her. In the five years that Dorothy was in my life, she lived life. She went to church every Sunday and put in a prayer request for my ex and me every Sunday as well. Dorothy was a good mother to me, at a time when I didn’t have one. My own mother died many years before I met Dorothy. When Dorothy learned my mother was deceased, I could see how she put herself in that role for me. I never complained one bit. It felt nice to be loved again in that way that only a mother can.

I know Dorothy is at rest and still living fully in another plane of existence with her beloved Robert. These beautiful memories I hold of our time together and knowing that Dorothy is once again reunited with her husband who she loved so much, make it easier each day to feel a little less pain about the loss and the feeling of that space filled by joy and happiness that things are as they should be.

Dorothy’s mother and sister eventually learned of her death. I always knew and felt so strongly that someday, even though my former partner and I were no longer together, that I would, in some way shoulder the responsibility of informing them of  the details of their family member’s demise.  The situation did unfold that way as my ex-partner never told them. When Betty reached me and I had given some of the details of Dorothy’s life those last few years, I inquired about that damn letter, which, they never received. Dorothy’s sister Betty and I have, through this odd process, become a unique pair of friends. Good friends in fact. We’ve never met in person (at least not yet anyway) and most of our communication is through email. Betty and I have a connection though. I have made a personal commitment to myself that this summer, I am going to make a trip to the small Texas town Betty and her family lives in, and have an opportunity to meet them all. In a strange way, they already feel like family to me. I almost found myself writing to Betty the other day, “We’ve got to stick together Betty, we’re all we’ve got you know…”  I know Dorothy is smiling as she’s standing next to her Robert, as she watches the friendship form between us.

To Dorothy, I send wishes of eternal peace, love and happiness, and all the “Robert time” possible.  Before you know it Mom, someday you’re going to realize I’m there with you too, and then you better get out a good set of Dominoes, OK?  Love you so much, Mom.

Your son,

Mark.

 

Death in the Abstract

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“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”   — Woody Allen

Even after a recent near death experience, I tend to think of death in the abstract, as a fact rather than a reality.  I know that everything passes and that we are bound to die, but I rarely allow myself to accept the reality of dying and being dead. 

Is this my way as well as that of others who refuse this fact our way of avoiding the reality of death?  It may be that we can only think of more worldly, mortal acts as a new beginning, a false sense of perpetual renewal, even a kind of rebirth.  Especially in fantasy and maybe even in our relationships, we are always “falling in love” all over again.  Always young, always beginning again, always keeping our options open.  Never settling into the contentment of a commitment. 

As we begin to mature and develop through our efforts of personal growth, we can learn to integrate our thinking and feelings about death into our daily lives.  We can sense death as an integral part of life, and not just as an abstract finality.  This can become part of our process of learning to experience reality in all its stunning diversity.  Life can become more precious as we realize that we must leave it.