It began on Friday when I sat down to meditate and found an archangel meditation in my iTunes library. The meditation was dated 2007, but I cannot remember ever listening to it and have no idea how it got into my collection. I listened to it and found it surprisingly powerful since i rarely even think of angels. Why did this suddenly come up on my radar?
Saturday was a whirlwind of activity. I began by working in my office for a couple of hours. Then, we had a two hour video conference for Helping Parents Heal leaders. I had had a two hours video conference for the SoulPhone on Thursday. Saturday afternoon, it was almost 8 hours for my nephew’s tennis match and dinner with Tywana’s family. Sunday began with church. There was guest presenter speaking Sunday afternoon- for two hours. But, I was not about to do that. I’ve been working hard on the transition of our website and I needed some down time. I took that one off.
On the conference call on Saturday, Tywana and I found out that Tom Zuba was speaking to our on-line group of Helping Parents Heal on Sunday night. I had briefly heard some of his story. Tywana has read his book. I was mildly interested in listening it. But, it was another two hour video conference on Sunday evening. All I really wanted to do was catch up on some TV. I was feeling exhausted and planning to hit it hard again on Monday. Besides, I have purposely avoided books on how to grieve. Grief is an extremely individualized emotion and has to be dealt with in the way that best suits each individual. Only once, in the very beginning, have I actually listened to or read anything on how to deal with grief. That was on how to get through those first few days when your body is just numb. I wasn’t all that interested in what Tom had to say about how to deal with grief. But, I was intrigued by the fact that this man has to be one of the best grief warriors who has ever walked the planet. Not only had he “lost” two children and his wife, but these were not in an accident or all at once. It was first, his infant daughter, then his young (43 years) wife, then his middle school son. Oh my God, how is this guy even walking around, let alone thriving? Maybe I’ll listen in for a while.
Tywana and I rushed dinner since she had gone to the session on Sunday afternoon at church. We got done just in time to tune into the conference. Tom spent the first hour telling his story. I learned that not only had his wife and tow children left him prematurely, his days old infant brother passed when Tom was only six years old himself. The unfair, premature death of his loved ones started at an early age for him.
We (I) have this expectation that death is supposed to come in order. I’ve had several aunts and uncles pass. Both of my parents are still in the flesh. Tywana’s father passed several years ago, but Alzheimer’s took his brain long before it took his body. These deaths don’t begin to compare to the passing of Shayna, at fifteen years old. There’s something that feels unfair about that. It’s just wrong. My parents are still here, but my baby is not? If anyone should feel life is unfair, it’s Tom. He and his wife were living the perfect life when his 18 month old daughter fell suddenly ill and was gone in less than a week. They got through that and had two more children. Then, his young, healthy wife suddenly succumbed to a blood clot that went to her heart. He gets through that, is a single dad raising two boys and one of the boys gets a rare, incurable brain cancer. HIs beautiful, brilliant, intelligent boy, coming into the prime of his life (just like Shayna) I don’t know how one man endures all of that. But, if one man can do it, I can do it. So, Tom brings me hope. My burden is nothing compared to his.
So, Tom tells his story. This is a special man. I hear so much that resonates with me. He believes that every death happens at the perfect time in the perfect way. Suicide? Planned. Heroin overdose? Planned. Your daughter falls off a zip line at camp because the counselor didn’t strap her in properly? Planned. Your fifteen year old just doesn’t wake up? Planned. Tom has accepted that all of the death around him is part of a divine order. This resonates with me. Tom talks about healing. This is one of the reasons I’ve avoided the grief books. I don’t know about this healing thing people talk about. I’m not sure it’s possible. I’m not sure I even want it. If healing means leaving Shayna behind, I’ll take the pain to keep her with me. He says that healing is not a destination, it becomes our way of being. I like that. I’ll never be healed. He says if we love someone, we will continue to miss them. He continues to love Erin (his daughter), Rory (his son) and Trici (his wife). So, he will continue to miss them until the day he drops his body and joins them. He has an ongoing relationship with each of them, but as long as he is in the flesh, he will miss them. Healing though is not allowing that to destroy his being the radiant being he came here to be. This all makes perfect sense to me. He talks about some of the things he did to heal- walking daily is one I do. I meditate. I listen to the Podcasts. I try to be of service to others. OK. Maybe I am on the right path. Tom’s 27 years out from the passing of his daughter. I can’t expect to be where he is since today is 22 months out from the passing of mine. But, I can look at him and have hope (and hope that I never get to 27 years out).
There’s so much that he said in that two hours that made perfect sense to me that I can’t cover it all here. I do want to highlight two things though. The first goes back to my opening about the angel meditation I did this week. Tom says we are all loved way more than we can imagine. We are never alone, always surrounded by loved ones, ancestors and even angels. I feel very, very alone most of the time. I feel like no one is helping me carry this and I just can’t do it alone anymore. In Tom’s worldview, these passings were not accidents. They are opportunities. They happened in divine order. We who are broken are supposed to be broken. That’s not a by-product. That’s the intent. But, we are not alone. Tom helped me process through the fact that I feel betrayed, angry, left alone, cheated. Why is that? If I am an eternal being and Shayna is in a place where she’s much happier, why do I feel betrayed? If I know I am going to see Shayna again, why am I mourning like something ended permanently on June 24, 2015? If I truly believe this was part of the plan, why would I be content with being bitter about it for the remainder of my days here? None of that makes sense. While those feelings won’t go away overnight (and they have not), I can see now a way to let them go. Practically speaking, I plan to add some healing modalities, like Reiki, to my healing regimen. But, perhaps most importantly, I feel a shift in hope that I can heal without losing Shayna.
The second thing he said that I want to highlight is this notion of what I will call divine providence. Our children’s “deaths” were not accidents even if they were ruled accidents, suicides, overdoses, whatever. Swedenborg uses the term Divine Providence, which I think I’m coming to believe. Tom talked about someone who is born schizophrenic. Tom thinks that people who agree to come here and be schizophrenic, become addicted to drugs, etc. These are not young souls who do not know what they are doing. These are old souls making a sacrifice so the rest of us can learn a lesson, have someone to be compassionate towards, etc. This directly contradicts something taught to me by one of my teachers just a couple of weeks ago. They said that people who are schizophrenic are possibly young souls who rashly chose a body that doesn’t fit their soul’s personality and that is why they are of “two minds”. These two teachings/views are 180º apart. I thought about this as I woke up this morning. A lot of my friends will get upset with afterlife teachings that contradict and take it to mean that someone is lying. Or, even worse, that you can’t trust anything about the afterlife because we have contradictory points of view. I don’t see it that way. I take what aligns with the evidence as I understand it and what resonates with me. When my teacher made the comment about schizophrenics a couple of weeks ago, that didn’t resonate with me. I respect their point of view, but I don’t share it. And that’s OK. It doesn’t nullify everything else they say or anything else they say. Tom’s view makes more sense to me, brings me more comfort, and gives me a greater sense of being empowered.
Today, I wake up with a bit more hope. I know I will see Shayna again. Nothing can stop that. When that will happen I don’t know. I do know that today and every day from here until then I have choices to make in how I’m going to live. And, I like the choices I see people like Tom Zuba making and think I want to do that.