For Angela, On Your Last Morning

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
~ Helen Keller

 

Good Morning, Darling Friend.

My first thought this morning is of you, on this, your last morning. As I lay in my soft bed, in my still-dark room, I thought of how I left you last night. Your laboured breathing, the white walls of your hospital room, the little bubble of peace that you were in, surrounded by but no longer aware of the sounds of distress and traffic and beeping machines and views over car parks and shabby buildings.

Lie gently, my friend. None of that matters now. Let it all fall away.

Rest.

And let me fill your mind with a picture of all the things I can see and be grateful for this morning, and that I know you will understand and treasure too.

From my bed I can hear the cry of the cheeky kookaburra who lives in the grove of eucalypts beside our bedroom. Mr Grumpy the koala is noisily saying goodnight to the last of his girlfriends. The gentle pre-dawn light is filled with the chuff and click and chirrup of the myriad birds who call our farm their home. Down the road, at Richard and Jo’s, their three roosters are stirring and calling. They are such handsome fellows. So full of life and personality.

Image by Jo Immig

Image by Jo Immig

The morning’s air is cool, and fragranced with damp earth and that lush scent of rainforest. To be truthful, there is also that hint of cow.

Here, in our bedroom, Lavender and Peace and Calming oils linger on my pillow, just as they do on yours. We are linked by fragrance. And by love, my dear. That makes me smile.

At the foot of my bed Bert is gently snoring and twitching with a little dog dream. My pillow cradles my head and the worn linens that cover my legs against the morning chill are silken soft. It’s a safe little cocoon, this bed, as beds should be. Just as your bed is for you right now. A place to float away on peaceful dreams.

I know you’re there now. In that gentle, soulful place we talked about. That place of peace and quiet and joy and letting go, surrounded by love. I know that you can feel the love for you – here, and where you’re going. It was an honour to take you there yesterday, and to feel your ragged fear and distress melt away and for you to find comfort and sanctuary. I’m right here with you. You’re safe, and loved, and all is well.

Harry and Ben are already up and out of bed, and getting ready for the day – time to check the cows soon and to put the hose out on the mulberry tree up by the pool.

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I’m up too. The kettle is on, and it fizzes and ticks in the quiet. So quiet that I can hear the hum of the fridge, the occasional fat drop of water plopping melodically into the soaking saucepan I placed in the sink last night after a hurried dinner. No fancy meal that was – just a bowl of noodles with soft yolked eggs, butter, cheese and a handful of herbs from the pots at the back door of the kitchen. Comfort food. Carbs. Oh goodness, Ange – the foods I will savour now for you. I know how much you’ll enjoy that.

My tea this morning is a colossal cup of Melbourne Breakfast with a good slug of milk. That smooth vanilla taste with the kick of caffeine. I’m in my pyjamas and gum boots now, mug in hand, walking around my early morning garden. I must pull out and compost the sweet peas. They are at their end, and it’s time to plant out my summer flowers. There are mulberries to pick, and sweet Tom Thumb and Amish tomatoes. I laughed when I inspected that ratty old capsicum bush, which is also slated for the compost. What a fighter it is. It must have heard me say that last week. Again! Another fruit this morning, and two more developing.

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The sunlight is streaky thin and still silver, but the sky has a hint of gold and purple. Even from here, hidden by the mountain, I can sense the ocean, and feel the promise of heat in the day.

Up in the teak tree the tawny frogmouth owl mother is sitting on her flimsy nest of sticks, a couple of fledglings under her wing. She’s watching me. But you know about me and owls…

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I’ve dragged the hose down from the mulberry to the lemon tree, which is covered in tiny perfect fruit. The grass is still dew-covered, and the sweet white clover heads are getting ready for the morning influx of bees.

I’ll sit here on this chair out under the poinciana now, and sip my tea, and think of you. Remember Christmas Day, when you both popped in for one celebratory drink and left late that night after too much champagne and prosecco and food? We laughed so much you fell off your chair. Such happy memories of good times, my darling girl. It’s been a marvellous life – filled with that special richness of love and friendship and appreciation of the simple things. Wonderful husbands, loveable dogs, gardens, good food, music and dancing and surfing and beach walks and bonfires and travel and staying up late into the night devouring the pages of a book you can’t put down.

The whole earth is vibrant this morning as you leave us. Time moves more slowly, as you take a last look around. It’s beautiful here. So beautiful. And what I am most grateful for this morning is that finally you see how beautiful you are too, and that you have ALWAYS been beautiful. And loved. You just didn’t always remember that on other waking days. No matter, sweet friend. You came from love, you are love, and you return to love.

It’s all good. Every single crazy inexplicable moment.

I love you so much.

So, for you, the magical journey begins. That secret journey we all wonder about. How special and fantastic and amazing that journey is. Surrender to that magic. Smile, that you know the secret now too.

I’ve lit your candle, with your wishes, watched over by the owl you gave me.

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We promise to look after your man, and your puppy dogs, and to drink bubbles and to have glorious expeditions and delicious food and think of you.

I’ll meet you in the night sky. I’ll meet you in that place.

Love is forever, and I know that you can still receive emojis in heaven. But I’ll miss the ones you used to send me here.

Thank you, Angela, for everything.

I love you. Nicole <3 xoxo

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The Strange Dream With The Even Stranger Twist

“Tis strange, – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!”
~ George Gordon Byron, Don Juan

 

*Please note that I have changed the names below to protect the privacy of those involved.

I dreamt the oddest dream the other night. It was one of those dreams so rich in detail – the sounds, the smells, the textures and emotions – that it might have been real. Me, transposed into some other reality through the mechanism of my dream.

I sat beside Ben in a big white American-style utility. We were in heavy traffic in an unfamiliar city, my husband behind the wheel and me looking all around at the buildings and the many lanes that were converging on a five-ways. As we began to merge I saw a vehicle towing a closed in trailer cut across the lanes to reach an exit on the other side of the road. A semi was bearing down upon them. I knew there wasn’t enough time. The truck hit the car and trailer, pushing them along and into other traffic.

Ben began to take evasive action as time slowed down. I was aware of every detail. There seemed an abundance of time and yet so little to be done. The crunching, grinding sound was sickening. I was sure that we would become part of the unfolding accident. Sure we would be badly injured or killed. My heart raced at the truly chaotic and terrifying scene.

Suddenly it was over. Our car was safely stopped. The truck and other cars were stopped. Debris was everywhere. People came running from all directions. I flung open my door, assaulted by the smell of burning brakes, rubber, metal and fuel. On the asphalt ahead of us was a small boy. His shirt and jacket were shredded, and he had an open wound in his chest. He was crying out for his mother, over and over. Mum, mum, mum.

I dropped down beside him, picked him up and cradled him in my arms, frantically looking around for some help. His blood was soaking my shirt. I pressed my fingers into the wound, trying to staunch the flow, and the boy looked up at me.

‘Am I dying?’ he asked. ‘It hurts.’

His voice didn’t sound like a child’s. He spoke with the voice of a man.

I somehow knew the truth, that yes, he was dying. I nodded yes.

‘I’m frightened,’ he said. He started to cry. ‘I knew I shouldn’t have taken my bike out today.’

I’m still dreaming, I thought to myself. I’m not really here.

Image from smartiplex.com

Image from smartiplex.com

Beyond us I saw a badly damaged motorbike on the ground. I looked down again and it was no longer a little boy, but a man whose head and chest were on my lap as I cradled him in my arms.

‘Mum,’ the man said. He squeezed my hand hard. ‘Thanks for coming. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve screwed everything up.’

‘I’m not your mother,’ I managed to say.

‘I know,’ he said. ‘My mother is already passed. My name is Andy. Andy Little.’ Bubbles of blood were coming out of his mouth.

I held Andy’s hand and stroked his hair. I whispered to him to not be afraid. That it would all be okay.

A woman in white walked towards us through the smoke and debris. ‘I’ll take him now,’ she said. I looked down and Andy’s eyes had glazed. The woman was gone. Andy was dead.

I woke up crying.

The dream stayed with me, and I couldn’t let it go. It affected me so strongly that I vomited. My head ached all day and I felt exhausted and disoriented. I offered up prayers for Andy, and held space for him in my meditations.

Finally, days later, I decided to google the name. Andy Little had been killed in a multiple vehicle accident at around the time of my dream, in a city on the other side of the world. He had been riding a motorbike. His photo matched the face of the man from my dream.

He had no next of kin.

I still feel so sad. I can’t explain it. Was it a dream? Was I there? What does it all mean? I do know that Andy is with his mum now, and for him, everything will be okay.

This life of mine is so strange at times. I hope that in some way, energetically, I was there and was able to offer Andy comfort as he passed. To think that gives me a measure of comfort too.

Image from EmilysQuotes.com

Image from EmilysQuotes.com

Some thoughts on Dementia, Alzheimers and the End Stage of our Journey

Image from the Dark Writer

Image from the Dark Writer

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”Edgar Allan Poe

 

Recently, my friend Catherine contacted me to ask about her grandmother Phyllis, also known as Little Nana. Her Grandad has already passed over, and Little Nana is in a nursing home. This is what Catherine wrote:

My Nana is in a nursing home and has been for a while now. She can’t walk and so is hoisted in the air as they change her nappy which is degrading and I know she hates it. It makes her cry. She hates them showering her. She hates all of it.

Now dementia is taking over and she knows it. Some days she is great and others you can’t understand what she is saying. And she knows it. She keeps hiding/losing her hearing aid and so now she can’t hear at all. Sometimes she yells at people we can’t see, although once she told my mum (who I’m not close with) that Grandad was there but he wasn’t saying much. She tells me she is frightened but doesn’t know why. She says it a lot. I think she is frightened of dying, but without her hearing aid in, she can’t hear me tell her that there is nothing to be scared of, and that Grandad and others will be there to help her.

I sat on my bed tonight and cried as I told my Grandad that I hate seeing her like this. She is sad and defenceless. She’s scared and terribly sad. She gets confused and doesn’t understand what is going on. I asked Grandad to please take her peacefully in her sleep as it is too cruel to let her lose her mind first. It breaks my heart to see her like this, even in her moments of clarity she is still so sad.  Do you think he heard me? Do you think he understands that it breaks my heart to ask him to take her more than my heart breaks watching her slowly fade from her memory? Am I a bad person to ask this of him? I’m just so sad for her.

I asked Catherine for permission to share her letter, and my response. Many of us have been, or will be in this situation at some stage in our lives as carer or patient.

As a psychic, over time I have come to hold a different view of what happens to those experiencing dementia, or a loss of cognitive function and connection to the world as they age, or their health deteriorates. This is not just restricted to the elderly. What I am about to say can be experienced by someone during deep trauma or illness, and at the final stages of their life, no matter what their age.

Image from The DailyPedia

Image from The DailyPedia

Catherine, you are not a bad person to have these conflicted feelings about Little Nana. No-one likes to see their loved ones suffer, and it is a terrible feeling to be so powerless at the face of that suffering.

Your beloved grandmother is in the end stages of her life now. I know that she is losing the things that have defined her to herself, and to others; her independence, her ability to communicate, to problem solve, and to function in the way that she did before this decline.

I also understand this place from a personal perspective, having been there myself. Ten years ago, when my own health, motor skills and cognitive function were in serious decline, my husband was advised to place me in a nursing home, as it was expected that I would continue to deteriorate, requiring round-the-clock nursing care.

What was it like for me to be in that space? I often forgot where I lived, I couldn’t walk properly, I had lost the ability to read and write, and I could no longer function independently.  I was angry and confused. I felt helpless and depressed, and I raged against this nameless thing that was eating the life that I had known. I hated where I was too. I was frightened, and lonely and sad.

But not all the time.

Sometimes I was here. Right smack-bang in this life, and engaged with the world around me. At times I was miserable. At times I was more myself, and happy just to be in the moment.

Sometimes I was totally absorbed in a rich inner world, or a place that I accessed through my inner world. This place that gave me great comfort and great insight. It was a place that made total sense while I was there, but which I struggled to explain once I came back into my body. Even now it comforts me to think of it, although all I have left is a feeling – no images, no information, nothing concrete at all – and I retain the understanding that in that place I could travel backwards and forwards along the timeline of my life, and beyond my body’s current limits.

Image from Pane Andov

Image from Pane Andov

Little Nana is beginning to connect into that space too. There is much work that she can do from that space. Spiritual work, work for the growth of her soul. Much healing happens in this space; forgiveness of self and others, understanding of our life events. Little Nana’s physical body will become less and less important to her. She will become less distressed about herself and her situation. Engaging with this world will become less and less important too. She will live with one foot in this world, and one in the next.

Some souls move from this world to the next quickly, some slowly. Each of us has the experience that our soul most needs.

Some years ago I sat with my grandmother in hospital during a serious illness that nearly claimed her life.  For months she walked between two worlds – the third dimensional world of the living, and the world of those who have departed.

During that time, my grandmother, who was always the most polite and well-mannered person I know, would sometimes hurl abuse at the nursing staff, and swear with words I hadn’t realised she knew. She’d become violent, even as she became frail. She was not the person I’d known, and it was distressing to watch.

The truth was, she was very ill, and not in her right mind. What happened to her happens to many of us when we are ill, losing our cognitive function, or dying.

Sometimes she was in her own little world, and sometimes she was completely engaged with people we could not see.

Except that, as a psychic, I COULD see, and I came to understand that my grandmother wasn’t just going crazy. Something else was happening.

Many times, I watched my grandmother’s physical aura become dimmer, and the monitors would show a decrease in her vital signs.  Then my grandmother’s etheric aura – the soul’s vibration or essence – would gently disengage from her body’s centre and move a few feet upwards from the bed, so that it was still connected but only just.  At these times her face would light up and she would often speak to her mother, brother and other family and friends who had passed over.  A great calm would descend upon the room, and when her etheric aura settled back down into her body once more so that her aura was fully re-integrated, she would sleep deeply and peacefully.

My grandmother’s doctor and a number of the nurses would tell me that she was delirious but one gentle nurse held this old lady’s hand, and soothed her brow and told me she had seen this many times when someone was near death.  That they began to see and move into another world beyond this one, sometimes even experiencing great emotion as they made restitution or communicated with souls they had not seen for many years.  Always they talked about deceased people, never the living.  “Just help her make up her mind”, said the wise nurse.  “Let her know that it’s okay for her to go if she wants to.”

In the end my grandmother turned the corner and her health improved.  She later remembered nothing of her experiences, but also no longer feared death.  That was a significant shift for her.

So, how can we help our loved ones in this time of losing the self they have been in this lifetime?

We can look after their basic human needs, with compassion and kindness. We can offer comfort, and keep them safe. We can manage their pain and their medical conditions. We can keep loving them in the moment, for who they are now, as much as for who they have been. This is a time where, more than ever, our loved ones need our ongoing love and acceptance. Our being in this space helps them, and helps us too.

We can reassure them that they are safe, and that it is okay for them to leave us. We can tell them that we love them, and we can remind them that their life has mattered and that they have been of value. We can tell them about the things they have done that have shaped and helped others. We can share happy memories and tell them our latest news. We can share new moments of being together. We can hold their hands, brush their hair, rub soothing creams into their skin, eat a meal with them, and help nurse and comfort them when they move beyond conversation and into that space where we cannot follow.

Two extra things stand out for me. The first is that those suffering dementia, or who are asleep or comatose, can still hear us on some level.I know this because one of my clients who was in a coma for several months, remembers her brother and sister sitting with her, reading to her, holding her hand and talking to her. Telling her how much they loved her, even as she remained unresponsive. She has enough specific details for all of them to believe her to be telling the truth about that time.

I know this because I remember my husband holding my hand and reading to me and telling me silly stories, when I was too ill to walk or talk, and too ill to let him know that I knew he was there except by squeezing his hand. Even then I sometimes thought I was speaking or squeezing his hand but all of that just happened in my head and poor Ben had to keep going, not knowing that where I was, I was interacting with him…

The other thing that stands out for me is prayer. Last year I spoke at length with a young man who had crossed over after he had suffered a violent and traumatic death. The dead man’s mother had prayed for him, regularly and often in the time after his death, and the young man told me that he felt every one of those prayers and the prayers helped him come to a good place in himself and to be calm and resolved.

Prayers are heard by those who have crossed over. Please be assured of that.

We can never begin to understand all that happens within a person, in the place that we cannot reach. That is part of the enduring mystery of life.

One thing I do know.

Love matters. Kindness matters. Compassion matters.

It may not feel like these gifts are enough for your loved ones, when all you want to do is restore them to themselves and take their suffering away. So you see, your loved one is teaching you too. Giving you the opportunity to learn new things. Growing you in ways you might not have imagined.

All of life is a beautiful lesson, where we are sometimes the student, sometimes the teacher, and often both at once.

Keep loving. Be love. Be your loved one’s advocate, and their voice when they have none. If you cannot be with them, send them kind and loving thoughts. Talk to them in your head, which is, after all, a kind of prayer. Trust that there is a part of them that will hear you.

Love your family and friends, no matter what. They are not their illness. They are not their behaviour. They are not just what’s visible to you. They are souls, who will endure and keep shining, just as you are. So live from love. That’s how we connect. That’s the most important thing of all.