It’s been so long since I’ve written, and I have much to share, but I’ll start with now, with today. The first email I opened today was from Jade Beall, saying her new book Bodies of Mothers, was being shipped, and had this photo of it fresh off the press.
Although I knew these gorgeous photos of Elizabeth (and me) would be in the book, it was a bit overwhelming still to see the reality. My emotions ranged from delight to deep sadness, for she’s in a book about mother’s bodies, but she didn’t get to be a mother herself, and I wish she were here in her body, dammit, instead of memorialized in this way. I had to laugh too, as I’m sure Elizabeth had something to do with this page being opened!
The next email was this blog post, from Tric, about the shocking and sudden death of the 24 year old son of her friend. More tears, and another reminder that “this day is the most precious thing possible”, as Elizabeth wrote while in high school. It is so easy to become complacent, to take it for granted that we can breathe, that our heart beats, that we can walk and see the ocean and mountains – which I’m fully enjoying every day, by the way, now that I’m living on Maui, which is a whole other day’s story…
So I do my best to stay present. This is one of the greatest gifts I received in being with Elizabeth during her last two months of life. Noticing every time I started to play out a story in my mind, of what the future might look like without her, or what could have been different in the past, that I wasn’t being present with Elizabeth, in what I knew to be her last days here. There’s nothing like truly knowing that this moment is unique and finite, to bring us present in each moment.
Of course I struggle with this too, preferring at times to distract myself in various ways, from movies to Facebook or reading – being present in other people’s worlds, but not my own. When I do though, I usually notice, and do it consciously, giving myself permission to take a break. And then I come back, doing a quick meditation or really loving my dog, Tilly, and feeling her love for me, or going for a walk and appreciating the beauty around me with all my senses.
Next, I saw that the movie “Heaven Is For Real” was showing, so headed out to see it. I’d wanted to see it since seeing a preview months ago, as it’s about a 4 year old boy who has an experience of being in Heaven, and comes back with stories of people who died whom he’d never met or heard of. It was quite moving at times, and reinforced many stories I’ve read of people who’ve had near death experiences (though this boy doesn’t actually die, but somehow had a similar experience). It wasn’t great as a movie, but it’s worth seeing for the story of this little boy.
It helps me a great deal to learn of these experiences, such as Dr Eben Alexander’s “Proof of Heaven”, his story of spending a week in a deep coma, and coming back with clear memories of a wondrous, beautiful afterlife. He had previously not been spiritual, nor a believer in life after death, as he was a scientist who didn’t believe what he couldn’t see or touch. This experience completely changed his life, and many who’ve read his book. I’ve always believed there is life after death, and it’s comforting to have some validation, helping me to trust more deeply that Elizabeth is at peace, is doing a great deal of work on the other side, and is present with me, and with many who love her, bringing gifts and blessings to each of us.
Elizabeth has been so present with me these last couple of days, and I’ve been feeling this new wave of disbelief. As time goes by, it is easier to feel her spirit everywhere, it’s also harder to remember her in her body. I look at photos of her and still can’t comprehend that she was even here, and that now she’s not. It’s such a mystery, a profound mystery.
I was reminded again of her poem “Seeping Back” written at age 15, which speaks of this mystery and the eternal, beyond my comprehension, a good place to end for today:
“Devotion, my mysterious master
I saw the crossroads, one forever movement of light
Seeping back to the river of eternal life…
…I am waiting for our hearts to be conjoined in the endless breath
Why can we not meet at the simple movement, place of undying peace and satisfaction?
Whisper of eternity that says I love you
For if we were to meet in that place there would be nothing left to live for.”
~ Elizabeth Blue, ©2005