Monthly Archives: September 2014

If I knew who was waiting

IMG_0768This is a story about comfort at a time of the death of a beloved.

It is a little story of of my next door neighbour’s, a little story of mine and a bigger one of my Canadian sister-in-law’s. Something brought them all together last week. Maybe it was serendipity, maybe it was love.

My mother was almost 92 when she died suddenly of a stroke and in the months prior I had often contemplated when she might ‘go’ and what life might be like for me without her. I was experiencing what I call premature or early grief and at times I became quite sad. I didn’t really know what these feelings were about until my next door neighbour told me a story about a friend of hers. Her friend’s mother had dementia and was in a nursing home and almost every morning the daughter would visit her mother to dress her and get her ready for the day. When the mother died those who knew the daughter thought she was amazing as she did not seem to be grieving. Everyone thought that as she had been so loving and devoted to her mother that she would ‘go to pieces’. When asked about her grief the woman replied, “I did my grieving in the years I visited my mother nearly every day”.

I have a habit of having pen and paper by my beside so I can capture the whispers from the Universe as they come, usually as I am waking up. Sometimes I put the date on these little pieces of paper and sometimes I just forget. And these slips of paper pile up, waiting for me – for something – some kind of reconnection. Last week on Thursday morning at  4.00 AM I woke up and found myself wide awake. I felt compelled to get out of bed and start sorting out some of these papers. And there I came across one that, unknowingly, I was soon to need. It was not dated, however I knew it was from a time not long before my mother died. The message on that little piece of paper was so, so beautiful – I could never have ‘thought it up’. I kept it aside by placing it on my desk. At 4.00AM in Sydney it was 2.00PM the day before in Toronto, Canada, and as I was to find out later, only a few hours before my Canadian sister-in-law’s step mother, passed to the light.

When my sister-in-law emailed me the news I rang her, and my brother of course, to express my condolences for their loss. My brother was not home, so my sister-in-law and I chatted for quite a while. And in the midst of that conversation she told me this beautiful story.

“In the afternoon of the day my stepmother died I was in a hardware store and had to use the bathroom and when I was in there I heard three sales colleagues talking outside. I wasn’t really listening to what they were saying but then I quite clearly heard one saleswoman say, “I was leaning over my brother just after he died when something, I do not know what, made me look up and I saw my brother standing with my father”.  

There is so much beauty to this story because my sister-in-law later shared with me that in the past few weeks her step mother had said she had no fear of dying, that she believed the soul left the body and was reunited with loved ones.

And the message on the little piece of paper I found so early that morning, the one with the message on it about my mother? It was also a message for my sister-in-law and all of us who have lost our mothers and it was this: “If I knew who was waiting for her I would not be sad”.

Mary and the rose

Mary's red roseA few weeks ago a friend told me a story about a woman called Mary. It was a story about a crisis of faith and what happened to her when love intervened. It was a remarkable story and I wanted to share it with you. I wrote the story down and saved it on my computer, but for some reason I felt it was not the right time to send it out, the story did not seem complete. I trusted that feeling and did not send it. Last week something happened to me which gave me the reason for my hesitation.

But first, here is Mary’s story.

Mary was a beautiful, young woman. She was very religious, with a spiritual intent. In the book Gratitude by Louise Hay and Friends (1), Michele Gold explains intent as being, “a way of creating a clear signal to the Universe about your direction in life”. Mary was a Christian, though my friend did not know which denomination she was. One day Mary experienced a crisis of faith. During this crisis Mary went to church to pray. She found a pew and knelt. She prayed, “Please God, show me a sign. I know faith denies signs, that you don’t give signs, you exist by faith, that the Church says God doesn’t give you signs, but I don’t think this is true”.
Now the church where Mary was praying was empty. As she clasped her hands in front of her eyes and bowed her head in prayer she noticed a red rose at her feet. She picked it up. There were no other flowers in the church. Not one. Nothing on the altar, no flowers anywhere.
Mary knew the rose was for her.
She took the rose home and put it in a vase which she placed on her kitchen window sill. It looked perfect and stayed perfect.
Several days later a friend came to visit and noticed the rose in the vase on the windowsill.
“Is that the red rose you found in the church?” she said, “the one that you told me about?”
“Yes, it is”, said Mary.
“I have a flower press. Would you like me to press the rose for you so you will have it for always?”
“Yes, thank you, I would like that very much”, said Mary.
Six weeks went by. Then the friend came back to see Mary.
The friend said, “Mary, when I opened up the flower press – the rose was gone!”

Feather and timberAnd here is my story.

About six years ago I made a sculpture utilising feathers and seed pods from a plant called a Devil’s Claw. I cut off the claws from the very hard seed pods, drilled two holes in each pod, and threaded them together to make a ‘necklace’. Then I added feathers to complete the sculpture. I hung it on the wall in my studio. A year ago I moved studios and packed this necklace into a plastic container and placed it in storage.
Last week I retrieved the box and when I opened it all the feathers were gone!

It is almost inexplicable to describe in words the resonance within me around Mary’s story and why I waited before sending it, my story, their similarities and their synchronicity. I have the feeling that all this was quite specifically and methodically designed to help me through my own recent crisis of faith.

From a simple story about Mary and how love intervened for her, to my own story, the little one and to the bigger one around both of them, these have changed me and the direction of my life.
I find it impossible not to be changed by such simple, beautiful, everyday events, yet ones filled with a love ineffable.

(1) Gratitude : a way of life by Louise Hay and friends. Hay House Inc. 2009. Quotation used under ‘fair use’ permission.