People make fun of me because I love reality TV shows. Specifically, I love Survivor and Big Brother.  I love them because they are microcosms of life and society. They are distilled down into small groups and put on display to entertain us and to learn, if we are up for it.  There is no one right strategy to winning and I learn a lot by watching them.

One thing about these shows that always amazes me is the people go batshit crazy in just a few short days/weeks.  No contact with the real world, no news of what is going on at home, no television, no internet, and the stress of the game breaks people down so quickly it continues to fascinate me.  The mention of someone back home will bring tears to their eyes. After a couple of weeks, they’ll kill each other just to get a letter from home. On the latest season of Big Brother (the celebrity edition) two players begged to be voted out Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy from the Cosby Show) and Metta World Peace both, within a few days, asked to be voted out.

I find myself yelling at my TV. “What is wrong with you?  You signed up for the show.  You knew the deal. Did you watch the show?  You know it’s only 40 days right? Why can’t you suck it up and tough it out?  You know your family is waiting for you.  Stop being a whiny baby.”  Then, it hits me. This is just like me.  They are me.  Here I am on the mission I signed up for.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  But, I signed up for the mission because I wanted the rewards.  I left the comfort of Home to come into a crazy environment where I knew I’d be tested, where I’d face lack, where I’d have to compete to survive. And, here I am whining about the game, while I’m in the game that I signed up for.

I’m reading a series of books “The Team– A Mother’s Wisdom from The Other Side”  As I’m reading them, maybe for the first time in my life, I’m really getting that I’m not here alone on this island. The main theme of the books, as I see it, is we don’t come here just for spiritual growth. We come here to benefit our team and the world. Everything we do helps the whole. A by-product of helping the whole is individual spiritual growth. This lines up with the experience Natalie Sudman had (chronicled in Application of Impossible Things) where during her NDE, she found herself in an arena surrounded by beings who were downloading and benefiting from the experiences, knowledge, and wisdom she gained during her life on Earth.

Shayna told us that she can watch our family from where she is kind of like we watch TV. In the days since this concept of the team has become more real to me, I picture Shayna yelling at the TV and at me the way I was yelling at Metta World Peace. I know Shayna and my team are right here cheering me on, waiting for me, and saying “C’mon Brian. You know it’s not that long.  Suck it up and do what you went there to do.  We’ll all reap the rewards when you come Home.”

It is said a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. When I started this journey on June 24, 2015, I had no idea where or how far it would take me.  One day seemed like too many to live without Shayna. 1,000 was unthinkable.  When people even mentioned a month into the future, I would drop my head.  “I can’t even think about that.” I would say.

Yet, here I am, sitting in my office, 1,000 days later.  What has transpired in those 1,000 days? What’s the same? What’s different?

Kayla is back in school. She went right back at the end of that summer, just a few weeks after Shayna’s passing. She’s completed her sophomore year.  Possibly inspired by Shayna, she changed majors from biology for pre-med to psychology with a minor in Spanish with the goal of working with children. She’s been to Spain.  This is the year, when she was 21 and Shayna is 18 that she wanted to take Shayna to New York.  In spite of having her dreams of a life with her sister shattered, Kayla is thriving as she finishes up her fourth year of college. I could not be more proud of her.

Tywana and I continue to work on the business.  It’s still a struggle, but we keep at it. She has taken a part time job, 12 hours a week to get her out of the house. The house is way too quiet and with no girls to run to basketball, girl scouts, swim team, volleyball, violin, etc. we need to find reasons to get out.  Tywana has become a meditator, has changed her reading habits, has become a student of life and the afterlife.  I’ve seen strength, wisdom, and patience blossom in her.

We’ve met incredible people in the last 1,000 days.  I have met hundreds of people I would not otherwise have met.  Some I’ve known only a year, like Tracy and Beth, but it seems like I’ve known them forever.  We joined Helping Parents Heal, started and mothballed a local group, then started an online Facebook group that has grown to 2,800 members in well less than a year.  Tywana and I co-lead the group along with Tracy and Beth. We have had nationally sought after speakers address our group (and have more in the pipeline).  I have met celebrities in this field I would never have met otherwise.  I have led an online course.  We host meetings several times a month serving parents whose children have transitioned. I’m on staff on the SoulPhone, a project to bring electronic communication across the veil. I’m working on two other projects that aren’t public yet.  One will be announced in a few weeks and will have the mission of changing people’s perception about the world we live in.  Two of these ventures are volunteer positions.  The other, we hope, will generate revenue and give me the opportunity to work in the field I really would like to work in.

1,000 days later we know that Shayna is still with us and that we will see her again once we make our transition. We’ve had incredible signs from her, synchronicities, medium readings, etc. We have immersed ourselves in this new paradigm reading, listening to podcasts, attending conferences, etc.  We have been to two afterlife conferences with the first annual Helping Parents Heal conference on the calendar for just a few short weeks from now.

I don’t know that I can say I’ve healed in the last 1,000 days.  I can say I’ve grown. I don’t know if the pain has lessened, but the capacity to handle the pain has increased.  And, when I don’t think I can make another year or month or day, I remember that I thought the same thing on June 25, 2015 when I opened my eyes to this new world and the beginning of this new journey.

Will it be another 1,000 days? Will it be 10,000 days?  I am not in a position to say.  What I do know is it won’t be forever.  That brings me peace. I also know that what once seemed to be impossible has now been accomplished.  1,000 days.

Tonight I’m hosting a meeting with the celebrity medium Thomas John. If you’re not into mediumship you probably don’t know he’s the medium many A-list celebrities seek out, he does sold out events and he has been featured nationally in print and on television (and has an upcoming television show).

Thomas begins the evening telling us his life story and answering some general questions about the spirit world and how all this all works.  Then, he begins with the readings which is what I really want to tell you about.

I have to set the scene first. I’m still a skeptic.  I know there are frauds.However, I truly 100% believe that mediumship is real. The evidence is overwhelming.  I’ve had readings with people who had no motivation to lie to me. I’ve had two blind readings where the medium knew nothing but my first name.  One was for a study. The other was booked and paid for by a friend.  But, I’m not going to be a sucker.  I analyze the situation and I look for potential fraud. As of today, our closed group has 2,881 members. In the group, 66 people have registered to be on the call. He does not have access to that information either.  122 people end up actually on the call.

I’ve been to gallery readings before.  I always wonder if the medium has planted people in the audience and just picks the people they’ve planted. Obviously, they can’t look up details on the attendees, but they could plant people in the audience. I’ve seen Cindy Kaza twice.   I do recommend her, BTW. I have virtually eliminated that possibility for her because she’s in a different city every night, playing comedy clubs.  After I saw her show, I went to her Facebook page and stalked the people she had read who had come to comment.  They were all locals with real Facebook profiles.  If she’s planting people, she has a stable of people in every city in the country with a comedy club.  A massive effort. But, I digress.  Back to Thomas John, my friends attended a Thomas John show a few years ago and were the recipients of a gallery reading that blew them away. They know they weren’t plants.

Thomas is reading for free for a group of grieving parents.  He’s already booked up with appearances and television show. He’s not here to drum up business. He has no motivation to try to fool us.  There’s no financial gain for him and he doesn’t need the publicity. He’s donated two hours of his time to this.  So, no motive, no opportunity. I don’t see how or why he’d be trying to fool us.  Why would he bother?

In the half an hour or 45 minutes he’s doing reading, he reads three people  I’ve seen many mediums who say things like “I have a J name or I have a Robert”.  Everyone has someone in their family with a J name.  Almost everyone has a Robert.  Thomas does some of this but, he also gets very, very specific.  Keep reading… Thomas says he has a message he thinks for a mother and father. Very few fathers are on this call. I see only two.  As he throws out some general information and hones in on a particular mother, we switch the video feed to her and Thomas starts the reading.  Then, as he’s getting this incredible information, the husband appears in the frame.  As far as I know, they are the only couple on the call and none of us knew he was there until this moment.  I’m impressed that Thomas seems to maybe have sensed the father was there.Now for the specific information. I can only give a small sample because there was so much. Tonight, Thomas gets names like Frost (the middle name of one of the kids) and Sequoia, the name of one of the kids’ surviving brother.  Frost and Sequoia, not exactly Robert and James. He tells a mother that she has kept her son’s room in tact and there is a chess board in it.  He correctly identifies one person’s cause of death as poisoning (very rare- it was an intentional poisoning).  He tells a mother of a minor child that she spent time separated from her child (it was three years that she didn’t even see him).  That same mother he identifies as having really bad arthritis (she described it as chronic pain).  He talks about sexual abuse with that child, also correct.  He describes the way she was told about her child’s passing as “inappropriate”.  I won’t share the details but it was the most inappropriate way I could possibly think of.  Her ex-husband was downright cruel, sadistic, and grotesque in how he told her.  He gets an exact birth date of November 12th.  These are just a few of the pieces of very specific things he brought through many of which he would have no way of knowing even if he had looked these people up.

All during the readings, we are commenting in the chat box and texting each other completely blown away by his abilities.

I know there will remain skeptics about mediums and that’s OK. For me, i’ve seen enough to know there are absolutely people with real, amazing abilities that are most simply and completely explained by believing what they claim, that they are connecting with people “on the other side”. There are peer reviewed, blind studies.  As I always say, there are bad mediums, good, mediums, exceptional mediums, and there are frauds.  Just because there are frauds and bad mediums doesn’t mean there aren’t people who can truly make a connection that can change your life. Even though I believe in mediumship, I am flabbergasted every time I meet one who is truly the real deal.

Of the 122 people in the call, only three of us were able to get readings from Thomas in the time allowed. But, we all came away uplifted.  If one of our kids was there, all of our kids were there. And if they were there, they are still right here.

The Shamrock Shuffle for Shayna is over for the third year.  Several times over the weekend, and at the race, people would come up to me and comment on how strong Tywana and I are. People said they could not do what we are doing.  “I can’t imagine losing a child.”  I’m not sure how to respond to this. I know people mean it as a compliment, but I don’t feel particularly strong.  I’m hanging on by a thread. Every day I count as one less day I have to endure. It’s day 999, tomorrow is 1,000 days.  It’s torture not knowing how many days there are left. Instead of counting up, I wish I could count down. Running this race is like running a race where the finish line is an unknown distance away.  How am I supposed to pace myself when I don’t know if it a 100 meter dash or a marathon?

Last week I heard someone say they lied to their kid because they told them that “If anything ever happens to you, I won’t be able to live.” They felt guilty because they “lied”.  Their kid “died” and they’re still here. Nope.  You didn’t lie.  Many parents feel that way, but you know what?  You do live.  You don’t really have much choice.  Other people are depending on you. You made a commitment. So, you get up, you get dressed, you eat, you bathe, and you do it all again.  You even sometimes pretend to be happy and people call you strong.

The Shamrock Shuffle, held on or around St. Patrick’s Day has become a primary fundraiser for Shayna’s scholarship fund. This is the third year we have participated in the event as a charity. Shayna’s Girl Scout troop participated one year where they ran part of the event as part of an award they were working on.

Our families have stepped up big time to participate in the event. It’s not a race, or even a day, it’s a weekend. We have a pasta party the night before. This year we had about 20 people at the pasta party. Tywana’s sister, her husband, and her three boys spend the night. This year they came in on Friday. Between them, a fiancé, Kayla, and Gabe (Kayla’s boyfriend) we had 11 people spend the night on Friday. That number went up by one on Saturday when our nephew Wesley drove in from college to join the party.

Race day was predicted to be iffy precipitation, snow, sleet, rain, or some God-awful mix. Thursday and Friday were beautiful. Sunday was predicted to be sunny and warmer. Fortunately, by the time we have to leave the house for the race, the forecast has been changed and the rain won’t be coming until long after the race is over.

Tywana I love having the family in. For me, the house is so quiet with both girls gone now. Whenever we have company staying overnight, it reminds me of the days when I was a kid and my aunts and uncles would come to town. There are people sleeping all over the house. Some on futons, on four different couches. But, it’s a great time, never too crowded, never too loud. And, just like when I was a kid, I hate it when it’s time for everyone to go home. It seems since Shayna’s passing especially that we value this time together. We have always appreciated it, always had a great family bond. But, with the kids growing up, the times are become more scarce and more precious.

We bundle up for the race since it’s about 30º and overcast. The kids run it. Some of us fast walk it. And, some of us have a leisurely stroll. After it’s over, we take the family over to the high school, across the street, to see the memorial the volleyball team had put in for Shayna, Victorian and Lauren. All three girls memorialized for as long as the school is there. Tywana tells the family the story of how the memorial came to be. I’m so proud of my girl Shayna for making such an impact in a school she only attended for two years (never even making it to main campus high school) and with the varsity volleyball coach even though she was only ever on the freshman team. Shayna didn’t have the opportunity to become world famous. But, my philosophy has always been to bloom where you are planted. That girl sure did, in a way that still amazes me almost three years later.

Sunday morning comes and it’s time for goodbyes. Wesley heads out early to get back to study. Shell, Rod, and the boys get into their two cars to make the drive back to West Virginia. Kayla and Gabe hit the road for Toledo. It’s the two of us again.

I know Shayna enjoys this weekend as much as we do. Probably more. She loves the banner we had made with her picture and name. She loves us telling stories about her. She loves the way she still brings the Shayna Six (her friends who decided to name their group after her after she passed) together. They wore Shayna Shining Stars T-shirts and did the race together. Tywana and I knew from Day 1 that Shayna would have a big impact on the world. We never dreamed it would be in the way it has been.

 

As I sit and reflect on the weekend and on my life now, I would give it all up in an instant to have Shayna back. People are talking about next year’s walk and wanting to participate. God only knows where we’ll all be in a year. But, if we’re here, we’ll do it again. Any excuse to get together, celebrate family, and remember Shayna is a good excuse.

Today is Pi day (3.14).  It’s also Einstein’s birthday.  How appropriate that it is Stephen Hawking’s going Home day.  50 years after his diagnosis with ALS, after a lifetime of amazing scientific contributions, the man who understood the physical universe arguably better than anyone who has ever lived, has had his eyes opened wide. Stephen Hawking didn’t believe in an “afterlife”.  I’d love to get his perspective on that now.

Of course, there’s controversy drummed up at his death. Too many Christians boast that he’s hell now precisely because he didn’t believe in hell or their version of God. Atheists say he’s like a computer that has switched off, an analogy I believe he used to describe death.  A comic was drawn showing his empty wheelchair, stars in the background and him walking away. This offended many in the disabled community (is disabled the right word? differently abled?) who called people who posted the comic “ableists” They say that those who use wheelchairs don’t see them as a prison, the wheelchair gives them freedom.

Here’s the way I see it.  I don’t know what it’s like to live in a wheelchair, unable to speak for decades, but I don’t think it’s a choice most of us would make if we had the choice.  Having said that, these bodies are prisons for all of us.Yes, we learn to live with the limitations. We even come to accept them as normal. But, we can only perceive a tiny fraction of what’s going on around us. We are limited in time and space. The most “able” among us has to walk- we cannot fly.  We cannot teleport. When we are in the body, whether we’re in a wheelchair or not, we are limited. When we shed these bodies, we will be more alive in ways we cannot even imagine now.  Stephen Hawking didn’t believe in God or an afterlife.  Fine. You don’t have to believe in anything to be alive here. You don’t have to believe anything to remain alive once your body stops working. And there is no God sitting there waiting to punish you for not believing. Sorry, He’s also not sitting there waiting to reward you for believing.

p.s.- one of my Facebook friends pointed out maybe Stephen Hawking will join the SoulPhone team.  Wouldn’t that be ironic since he used technology as his voice for so many years while he was here?

Today we’re on the road to Columbus for Aunt Lil’s funeral.  Kayla and her boyfriend Gabe are here for Spring Break and they take the trip with us.  I have my first synchronicity fo the day.  As I reach for my sweater, I find on top of it hoodie I made back when Shayna was playing volleyball. The hoodie says “Bump. Set. Kill.”  (a bit aggressive I know).  The synchronicity is just a couple of days ago I was scrolling through old pictures and saw the first t-shirt I made with this phrase on it. I can’t recall the last time I looked at those pictures.  And, I don’t know the last time I saw this hoodie or how it got mixed in with my sweaters.  Is this a sign from Shayna that she’s here?

People have been giving me condolences for Aunt Lil’s passing.  Maybe I should feel more sad than I do.  I just don’t. Aunt Lil was 93 (or 94 if you believe Uncle Ronnie).  She lived a good life. She was so robust and alive right up until the last few weeks living in her own home until October.  Richard, her son, passed just a couple of weeks after she moved into assisted living.  Just about five years ago, she pushed Shayna in a wheelchair at a family reunion in DC.  Her gait had become slow. She jokingly called herself Tim Conway.   She fell breaking her shoulder and a hip. They had said she would never walk again.  She could no longer wear her high heels (which she hated. She called flats “teenager shoes”).  I think she was ready to go and be with Uncle Bruzz, her daughter Joan, and to see Richard again.

We arrive in Columbus at the church Pop built.  Dad’s father built what I believe was the largest church in Columbus at the time. At least it had to be the largest Pentecostal church. I’ve been back twice since I was a child, once last year for Uncle Jack’s funeral and today for Aunt Lil’s.  Walking through those doors brings back memories- both good and terrifying. This is where I would play in the upper room with my cousins while Dad sat in the control booth recording Pop’s sermons.  We were tucked safely away from the teachings of eternal damnation and a god who created us so flawed we deserved it.  As the service goes on, I look up at the baptismal pool where I made my commitment to Jesus.  Just behind it is the room where I tarried, crying out for the Holy Ghost to come save me from that god. This is where I spoke in tongues, giving myself the feeling at least temporarily, that I had saved myself.  That was a joyous day. The pulpit is where Brent boldly walked up during one of Pop’s sermons to ask for the M&Ms Pop kept in the lectern to hand out fo us after the sermon. This is the sanctuary I sat in when some clown had the bright idea to blow a trumpet from the back of the sanctuary during a sermon, simulating Jesus’ coming back in the cloud and I, probably 10 years old at the time almost suffered a heart attack.

As I hear the funeral being preached, I’m white knuckling through it.  I don’t go up and view the body.  I call it the body, not Aunt Lil, because, Aunt Lil is no longer house there. She has left the building.  The casket is open and people are standing there staring at her. I picture her and Shayna (and Joan and Richard and her 6 brothers and sisters who preceded her, and….) walking among us saying “We’re still right here.”  When I go, BTW, there is to be no viewing of my body after I’ve left.  No pictures of my body. No touching my body. To hold onto someone’s body after they have left is like visiting their house after they’ve moved.

The preacher is mixing metaphors and contradictory Bible passages and it’s driving me nuts.  He’s talking about Aunt Lil trading in her signature hat collection for a “crown”,  her killer dresses for a “robe”, her shoes to walk barefoot on “streets of gold”.  I think back to a conversation I had with my mother years ago when she told me as a kid she didn’t want to go to heaven because streets of gold sounded gaudy and uncomfortable, rivers of milk and honey sounded gross, and playing a harp all day sounded boring.  We can do better. We don’t have to rely on vague descriptions in the Bible to know what the place Aunt Lil is in is like. We have eyewitness reports from people who have been there and come back.  We have reports from mediums who have contacted those who are there now. It’s not some imaginary place floating in the clouds.  It’s a very real reality.  Many who cross over don’t realize immediately they are “dead”.    The preacher alternatively switches between the view the the dead in Christ are asleep waiting for His trumpet to wake them up and that Aunt Lil is already in heaven with her family. Which is it Preacher Man?  It can’t be both.  You’re confusing anyone who is actually paying attention.

The thing is we now can know.  We have evidence. We don’t have to rely on metaphors (and most of these were written as metaphors) from millennia ago.  The “dead” are not dead. Aunt Lil shed that old body and was present with “the Lord” Immediately.  The Bible gets it right in a lot of places. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. She was changed in an instant- probably long before her body took its last breath. She stepped out of this body and into her eternal Home.

Another thing he says that grates on me is that he reads the passage about Jesus returning and snatching up those who saved themselves by believing in Him and the rest of us taken up later. Every time I’ve ever heard this passage preached, the assumption is “we” in the audience and the preacher will still be alive when Jesus returns.  Well, people have been saying this for millennia. I’ve been hearing it for over 50 years. The reality, my friends, is it’s much more likely we’re going to go see Jesus before He comes to see us.  Almost everyone I heard preach that passage from those decades ago is among those either sleeping and waiting or already present with the Lord, depending on which of the preacher’s views you choose to believe.

The sadness I feel at funerals now is the sadness I first recall feeling around the age of 8 or 9 years old. It’s when I realized that one day I would die or my parents would die and we’d be separated.  I guess when most people go to funerals, they feel sorry for the dead and leave going on about their day thinking the dead are the dead and we are the living and it will remain this way.  Having a child suddenly make her transition will change that view real quick.  I remember going to a family reunion in August of 2016.  I thought to myself that at the next family reunion someone in this room would not be here.  If I had had to guess, I would have thought my Aunt Lil who was 92 or 93 at the time (depending on who you believe). I would never have guess it would be my cousin’s son, who was only his his 20s at the time, taken in a car accident only a couple of weeks later).  At every family gathering now, mostly funerals and reunions since my mother’s family has a reunion every year, I know that at the next family gathering one or more of us won’t be here. As much as I know it’s coming, I don’t know how I’ll deal with the pain of seeing my parents take their turn.  And I hate the fact that either they or I will have to deal with this.  I’ll go first or they will, but it’s inevitable.  I try to prepare myself for that day.

We leave the service and head back to Mom & Dad’s house for desserts.  I skip the graveside service.  When I go, please no ceremony with the body.  None.  The body is not me.  Let them take it away and burn it. Know that I’m not going to the ground or being turned into ashes. I’m right there with you.

We get back home.  It’s Saturday night and since Kayla’s home we’d typically stay up late. But, she and Gabe are going out. It’s been a long day, so I head to bed early.  I read for a bit and close my eyes to go to sleep.  I’m prompted to open my eyes and glance at the clock.  It’s 11:11, my second synchronicity of the day.  I know Shayna and Aunt Lil are still right here. I can imagine Shayna being there to show her the ropes when she crossed over.   I smile a little smile and fall asleep.

Yesterday I attended a men’s gathering that my buddy goes to and invites to me to occasionally.  It’s always interesting being in a room of an average age of probably around 60, all white, all suburban, conservative, Republican, evangelical men.  And when I say interesting, I mean kind of terrifying.  The thing that makes this gathering particularly interesting besides the appetizers and cocktails we consume, is we sit in groups mostly with people we don’t know around tables and we answer some pretty deep questions.  Our wives are involved in wine clubs, book clubs, etc, etc, etc, but for most of us actually sharing with other men at this level is something we never, ever do.

Tonight, the guest speaker is a guy running for Lieutenant Governor. He’s interspersing his life story/campaign pitch in amongst the questions that have been prepared for us.  Being someone who no longer identifies as Christian, doesn’t believe in an anthropomorphic God, and is socially and fiscally liberal, it’s always a bit awkward answering some of these questions. Oh yeah, and I’m the only black guy in the room, too.

So, the first question teed up has to do with “How do you prepare for the unimaginable?”  Besides the obvious answer that you literally cannot prepare for what you cannot imagine, I decide to not argue with the semantics/logic of the question and play along. But, even though I’ve only been a couple of times and besides my buddy who invites me, no one else at the table has heard my story, I had decided I don’t want to always be the guy bringing up his dead daughter at these things.  But, how am I going to answer the question about the unimaginable without disclosing the unimaginable has already happened to me?  So, I’m third up on the question and I tell them. Been there. Done that.  I had the unimaginable happen- almost three years ago.  I tell my story. There’s an awkward silence.  I can almost hear them thinking “What do I say to that?” then we move on to the next guy.

Later, we come back around to the question, after the speaker has shared his story, and I tell the men at the table that it’s actually the unimaginable that has prepared me for what I do now. Because of what I have endured, I can empathize with parents who are in those initial stages of loss. I know what my friend Geo felt when his wife suddenly made her transition, a moment in time that changes everything. It’s not a matter of preparing for the unimaginable, but it is a matter of everything in life prepares us for what is to come next.

After we share around the table, the speaker comes back and talks about decision making and how we hear from God in that. OK.  Another one. How deep do I go in telling them that I don’t really expect to hear from God.  To my surprise, the first guy opens up and says he doesn’t really hear from God. This gives me the opening I need to tell them my true perspective.  I tell them how when I was a kid I’d hear people at church say “God told me this.” I felt unworthy.  Why was God talking to all of these people and not talking to me.  This continued for years. Finally, I got up the courage to ask people.  “When God told you this, how did he tell you?  Did you hear a voice?  Did you see him?  How do you know it was God talking to  you.” Finally, I realized they weren’t hearing from God any more than I was. They were just going with their gut or their thoughts or what they thought the Bible said and saying “God told me this.” It was then that the verses that talk about God not being in the storm or in the fire, but being a whisper came to mind.  I started going within to hear from God. I started sitting quietly and looking for subtle whisperings and voila, God had been there all along.  I shared with the table that I sit for half an hour a day.  I said you can call it meditation, you can call it prayer, but I go in with no expectations and just sit. And yes, I found out I’ve been hearing from God all along. The first guy who shared said that he was inspired by what I had said and was going to start this practice himself.  Hey, cool.  Maybe this is why I was here tonight.  Mission accomplished.  At this point I had to excuse myself to get home to a Helping Parents Heal meeting.

I get home and I jump on the meeting.  Tonight’s meeting is with Sharon Wesch, founder of Radiant Heart, a healing method she has developed. She specializes in people who have lost infant children.  During the meeting the inevitable questions about soul planning come up. “Why would I have planned this?  Did my child plan suicide?  Did my child plan to be murdered?”  Most of the people in the afterlife community have bought into the notion of soul planning, at least at a high level.  Maybe we don’t plan the last details of our life (some believe they are pre-determined), but we plan the high points, certainly if we are going to die young.  Yep.  Planned. And, yes, as parents, we agree.  But, why would we do this?  These questions are raised when we look at life from the human perspective.  When we buy into the notion that we are our bodies, that these lives are all we have, that we will live forever in these bodies, that death is eternal separation.  All of these are things that most of us have bought into because it permeates our society. And, even when we think we are over it, we are not. It’s still there at a subconscious level. We wake up in the morning and our kids aren’t there and we think “I’m never going to see her again.”  This isn’t true. As human beings we think we’d plan cushy lives. We’d be rich, healthy, live in these bodies forever or maybe just die in our sleep at 99. No one would plan to have a family member die “early”. No one would plan to be murdered. These are hard concepts to swallow. And, then we have this therapist telling us we can overcome this grief. We can put it behind us?  Nonsense.  If we really loved our kids, we will suffer “forever”.

The thing about soul planning is no one can prove it one way or the other.  If it resonates with you, fine. If not, fine.  Take it or leave it. But, there is one thing you do have to accept (or choose to be miserable for the rest of your life).  You cannot argue with what has happened.  Our kids have made their transition. Whether by suicide, or accident, or even murder, they have made that transition.  What are we going to do now?  Do we keep going back to the past and trying to change it or do we move forward? Time is moving forward and carrying us with it.

Why would we choose this life? I ask myself this on a daily basis.  I have for the past 989 days.  As I’m taking my walk this morning, an analogy comes to me.  This life is like college I think.  No.  It’s more like a semester in college.  No. It’s a course. It’s not as big of a deal as we think. We come in to learn something. We sign up and we take the course. If you’ve had a child go Home before you, you signed up for a graduate level class, as did I.

I majored in Chemical Engineering. It was hard. I graduated in four years, not many do in Chemical Engineering.  I recall times staying up all night studying for finals. I never had days off with no classes scheduled.  Business majors needed 180 hours for their degrees, I needed 220, almost another full year.  There were times when I’d wonder why the hell I was paying someone money to torture me.  There were times when I just could not wait for the end of the quarter or the end of the four years. I just wanted out. I was often poor. I lived with three roommates in rooms designed for two for four years.  Looking from the outside or if I had no recollection of signing up or what to expect after graduation, I’d wonder why I was there.  No way I’d choose that.  Right?

This is the way I look at life now. I signed up for this. It’s a graduate level class and it’s hard. Earth school is hard enough. I heard an NDE survivor describe just being in a body as flying 50’ off the deck upside down over an aircraft carrier. Those in the spirit world thinks we are badasses, just for being here. And, if you’re the parent of a kid who went Home early, you’re the bravest of the brave.

There are times when I get down. Many. There are days I cry, including today. But, as I pondered this this morning, I realized I need to give myself some credit. I thought about being at the table last night and inspiring someone else. I thought about being able to say I’m still here 2½ years later. I think about the things I’m doing to help others.  I’m kicking ass in this course. And, for those of you reading this who were on that call last night, whether you know it or not, you’re kicking ass, too.

A couple of days ago I was taking a class on spirit communication and I was told to look for synchronicities as a way of spirit communicating with me.  Well, just last week while I was on a call with a potential business coach talking about opportunities, I got a message from someone proposing a business opportunity to me.  Yesterday, as I was driving to a meeting I was listening to Sirius XM radio, 70s station as usual.  Got To Be Real by Cheryl Lynn came on. That song isn’t played much on the 70s station.  I cranked it up and jammed to it as I was nearing my destination. Then, I pulled it up on my iPhone and listened to it again. And, a third time on the way home from the meeting.

This morning, as I am taking my walk, I am listening to Amazon Music’s 70s station.  I’m getting a little bored with the 70s songs, so I switch over to the Disco station thinking I’ll hear more 80s music.  The first song up is Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. Then, the second song is…. Got To Be Real by Cheryl Lynn.  The song was released in 1978 but in all the hours I’ve listened to the 70s station on Amazon Music I don’t ever recall hearing it.  But, when I switched to the disco station this morning, there it was.  I had to laugh out loud.

Of course, I had to listen to it twice.

Today, my buddy Geo is passing through town and stops in for a couple of hours. Geo and I met, neither of us remembers exactly when,  it was over 15 years ago back when we were both coming out of traditional Christianity and exploring Universalism.  We were friends on either AOL or Yahoo and met one time in person at a small Universalist conference in Indiana.  Somehow, in the era of Facebook we reconnected.  We’ve always had a special bond, made more special when Geo’s wife Bonnie suddenly transitioned just over two months ago. Geo and Bonnie have been together since high school- 41 years They were planning their retirement together. Bonnie had just had a hip replacement so she could be mobile and they could travel together. Then, just a few weeks after the surgery, she was gone.

Geo and I have talked many times since then. While losing a spouse and losing a child are different, in some ways, losing a soulmate is losing a soulmate. And I know the unexpected gut punch of your loved one being there one minute and gone the next.  I’ve been so proud and amazed at how Geo has handled Bonnie’s transition, always keeping faith that Bonnie is still right here, honoring Bonnie, celebrating their time together, and never losing faith that their time together has not come to an end.

Geo is honoring Bonnie by going on a road trip and spreading her ashes in places special to them. One of his friends, who hates Ohio State, instructed him to not spread any of her ashes in Ohio. But, when Geo stopped by, this man I have only met once in the flesh, wanted to spread some of Bonnie’s ashes here. What he didn’t know is that we have a tree in front of the house where we have spread Shayna’s ashes. So, that’s where we spread Bonnie’s ashes here.  Geo’s having his van converted into a mini-RV and will be spreading Bonnie’s ashes across the country.

As I was in bed last night I was thinking about this whole ashes to ashes, dust to dust thing.  The belief many have is that we come from the dust and we return to the dust. It’s poetic. And, it’s interesting. In a very real sense, we are always connected to the Earth and everything and everyone in it. Our bodies are made of the stars that exploded billions of years ago, as is everything. We take in nutrition from plants and animals that take in nutrition from the Earth.  We breathe in the oxygen the trees produce and the trees use the carbon dioxide we produce. We drink water from the oceans and rivers and our waste products return to the Earth.  And, when we “die” our bodies return to the Earth.  But, the thing is we are not our bodies.  When Shayna passed, when Bonnie crossed over, they did not fall asleep. They stepped out of the bodies that they used when they were here. They are more alive than they ever were. For those whose bodies were buried in cemeteries, we don’t have to go to the cemetery to visit our loved ones.  I can see them now. They’re sitting there next to us and we say “I’m going go the cemetery to see Joe.” and they say “OK. I guess I’ll come along because I’m right here with you.

I titled this Geo and Bonnie visit because I know Bonnie is still right with Geo. I know she and Shayna were right there in that conversation we had yesterday and I hope they were proud that we know enough to acknowledge that and to continue to do what we to do honor their legacies.