Twenty years. For the first time in twenty years, we don’t have a child going back to school this fall. It all started with Kayla starting school just before she turned five years old. In April, she received her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Cincinnati (UC). We thought her educational journey was finally complete.

But, there was one last hurdle. She had to get her license from the state of Ohio. We thought this would be easy. She had met all of the requirements for graduation. She passed her graduation test. Just pass the state licensing test, a background check, and submit your transcript from UC and you’re done. Ha! Nothing is ever as easy at it seems.

It took weeks to schedule the test. She graduated on April 30th. She couldn’t take the test until June.  She passed the test easily. They told her she had passed before she left the testing center. She had her employer run the background check and submit it. She paid UC to send her transcript to the licensing board. It should be just sitting back and waiting now.

And she waited. And waited. When she called to find out what the hold up was, the board said they don’t accept background checks from agencies like her employer. It would have been nice if her employer knew that since her promotion was riding on her getting her license. But, no big deal. She had a background check run elsewhere and submitted that. More waiting… The next time she called they said they didn’t have proof she had passed the exam. She was told the day she took the test that she passed. But, they didn’t provide her with anything official. She had to have the testing agency send the scores again. They tried to extort $80 from her. She refused to pay it and they sent it over again.

More waiting… She called the licensing board again. This time they told her they had not received her “conferred transcript”.  This was educational for me. I had never heard of a conferred transcript or a conferred degree. On graduation day, you’re not officially graduated until the degree is “conferred”. Kayla had requested her transcript on May 7th, a week after graduation. The University obliged and sent the transcript right away. The problem? The University did not confer the degrees until May 18th. The transcript they sent to the licensing board was not worth the digital paper it was printed on. We learned of all of this when Kayla made what seemed like her 100th phone call trying to navigate this maze.

Finally, a week ago this past Monday, almost four months after graduation, the licensing board recognized Kayla as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Today, September 1st, she starts in her new role at National Youth Advocacy Program as a full-time Licensed Professional Counselor.

Dreams can come true with hard work and perseverance. I could not be more proud of Kayla for having stuck it out. It seems like only yesterday, we were working with her, learning to read her “Bob books”. Today, they arrived in the mail from my sister-in-law who used them to teach her boys to read. We’ll hold onto them for Kayla in case she ever has little ones.

Kayla crossed a major milestone and the journey continues.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate the woman who brought you into the world. Or, if you are fortunate enough to be a mother, a day to celebrate you.

But, for millions of mothers, Mother’s Day is more bitter than bittersweet. For mothers whose children have preceded them in death, Mother’s Day can be a cruel reminder of what you are missing. If you’re a mother whose only child has passed into eternity, you might feel like you’re not even a mother anymore.

I’d like to give you a different way to look at this Mother’s Day. In fact, this is a different way to look at every holiday and even every day of the year. Yes, I know I’m not a mother. But, bear with me.

I look at life as a long hike. The people in my life are on this hike with me. We are all walking each other Home. Each day is another step along the road to our common destination. I walk 11,000 steps every morning. As I walk, I think of each step as another day in my life. I know that if I continue to put one foot in front of the other, I will get to my goal.

For those of us whose children are no longer in the physical world, our children have run ahead of us. It’s just like Shayna to do that. So, it’s not a stretch for me to picture it that way. Shayna has finished the race and is waiting for me at the finish line.

As you’re on a long hike, you’ll pass milestones, occasionally. If you’re running a marathon, you’ll pass mile markers that indicate how far you’ve come. When you see those mile markers you rejoice. You’ve put another mile behind you. You have one less to the finish line.

Now, I want you to try an exercise. Close your eyes and imagine you and your family, including your child who isn’t with you this year. You’re holding hands and walking along a road. She drops your hand and runs off ahead of you. You know she’s OK. She’s just going to meet you at the finish line. You continue your walk, enjoying the scenery. Every so often you pass a mile marker. The mile markers in this analogy are birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries and Mother’s Days.

Tomorrow, celebrate your child, as they are celebrating you. Celebrate yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back. You child is proud of you for making it another year. They want you to be happy and continue to enjoy the walk. And, as you continue to put one foot in front of the other, covering the miles (years) between now and the time you reach the finish, you grow closer to hearing the cheers as you cross the finish line. Enjoy the hike and take everything in as you cover the miles.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is the day, my nephew, Nicholas, and his fiance, Nicole, are finally getting married. Tywana went ahead to rural Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia to help prepare for the wedding. I followed a day later, hitching a ride with my brother-in-law so we wouldn’t have to drive two cars back home. Nicholas and Nicole live on the border of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The wedding will be held in Garard’s Fort, PA where they met and became high school sweethearts. They live and work a few minutes away in West Virginia.

I get up early to get my meditation in. I immediately think that Shayna should be here and as I do, I feel her presence with me even more strongly than usual. The tears flow, a mixture of emotions I can’t even put into words. I miss her so much, even though I know she’s right here. She’s not missing this. This is Nicholas’ and Nicole’s day. Her sister and her brother/cousins are here. Shayna is here.  I have to keep my composure and get through this.

Shayna behind the veil

I love being around my family by marriage. Tywana’s sister is just like my sister. Her sons are more sons to me than nephews. Her husband, Rod, is one of the most genuine and compassionate people I’ve ever met (even if he is a Trump supporter). Being around family after Shayna’s passing is often difficult. My birth family doesn’t talk about her much. Nicholas and his brothers act like brother and sister with Shayna and Kayla. Tywana’s sister, Shell, is almost as devastated by Shayna’s passing as we are. The boys were so close with Shayna that their high school football team, 300 miles away), wore bracelets in Shayna’s honor after she passed. The kids from their high school still talk about Shayna. As I drive to the farm where the nuptials will be held outdoors beside the creek in the spot where Nicholas proposed, I make the final turn and I see purple balloons. They are there in honor of Shayna. No one has forgotten her. The boys in the wedding are all wearing purple ties, in honor of Shayna. They each have a picture of Shayna pinned to their ties. Kayla has a picture of Shayna pinned on the inside of her dress.

For whatever reason (Tywan), we arrive at the wedding over an hour before it’s scheduled to begin. Kayla has to be here because she’s in the wedding party. They were late getting back from their hair appointments (of course). Since it’ll take me 10 minutes to get ready, I make the half-hour drive to drop her off and the half-hour drive back. When I get back everyone except Tywana is gone. I quickly throw on my clothes and then make the half-hour drive once again. Kayla is a groomswoman. Nick wanted her in the wedding. She is wearing a gray dress, the same color as the groomsmen’s suits, and stands on Nicholas’ side.

Rod, my brother-in-law, the talker, approaches me as I’m watching the picture taking. Rod, is the kind of person who will meet someone, spend five minutes with them and know their life story. Rod asks probing questions about deep stuff, always.  Rod looks me in the eye and asks “What thoughts are going through your head?” I try to deflect “I have a lot of thoughts, right now Rod.” He won’t let it go “What are the predominant thoughts?” I say “You know what I’m thinking, Rod.” We’ve known each other for 15 years and we know each other well. Rod knows exactly what (who) is on my mind. He says “They’re all right here.” I say “Yes. They certainly are all right here.” What I leave unsaid is I wish I could see them and hug them. I wish Shayna could be standing up there with her sister and her brothers/cousins. I know she’s here, but she can’t speak to us and can’t be in the pictures.

The wedding is short and sweet. Rod gives a mini-sermon. The setting is idyllic as butterflies are fluttering around, the creek is flowing the background. Rod even includes an anecdote about one day when the creek was stocked and relates it to Nick and Nicole’s wedding. And, the train that runs about 300 yards from where they are getting married even has the courtesy to not roll through during the ceremony.  The ceremony ends and I get a ride with Kelly and Lisa to the reception. Tywana will stay with Kayla who has to take more pictures now that Nicole has made her reveal and can be included. We drive three miles down the road before we can get a signal and Waze can direct us to the reception. As we pull into Jefferson, PA, we realize there is no cell service there either. I had tried to call Tywana at Nicole’s from the car on the way down. Voice communication was impossible, but I could get texts to and from her.  In Jefferson though there is no texting, no voice nothing. My theory is maybe there’s one carrier that covers the town, but I have AT&T, Lisa has Sprint, and Derrick has Verizon.  No one can communicate with anyone.

When we get to the reception, I see a table with pictures on it of past family weddings. I see a picture of my father-in-law, Felton, who passed 7 years ago. And, then I see a picture of my baby at the far end of the table. Shayna is hear. Later, I will find out that she also made a supernatural appearance, appearing to one of the members of the wedding party in the mirror as they were getting ready. Everyone is missing Shayna today, but I think we also know she is truly right here, not just in our hearts.

Finally, the bride and groom arrive and the festivities begin. Kelly (Tywana’s brother), Lisa (his girlfriend), and Tim (Tywana’s brother), all want to watch the UK football game tonight at 7.  The wedding is at 2:30. When you go to a wedding, you do the wedding, go to the reception for an hour (maybe two) and you head out. Surely, we can get to a sports bar and catch the game. OSU is playing Penn State (biggest test of the season) at 7:30. I can do the reception and still make the game. Or so I thought. As someone pointed out, this is Nicole’s world and we’re all just living in, especially true on a bride’s wedding day. The mother-son dance and all of that stuff haven’t happened and it’s after 6. Kelly and Lisa are leaving. I have to make a decision. Do I stay with Tywana and Kayla and be here for only God knows how long? Or, do I escape with Kelly and Lisa? I ask Tywana what time she plans to leave here. The answer is “I don’t know.” I know what that means, leave with Kelly and Lisa. We drive the couple of miles it takes to get a cell signal then have Waze direct us to their hotel, next to the BW3s where we will catch the game. I want to text Tywana and tell her “When you leave the reception, turn right and just keep driving until you see civilization again.”. But, I can’t. She’s still in cell phone blackout town.

Long story short, we get to their hotel, they change clothes, and we head to the sports bar. UK’s not on TV here. They can’t watch the game anyway. We begin trying to communicate with the people at the reception. We try Tim, Tywana, Derrick, on a rotating basis. We don’t know if they’re still there or on the way somewhere else. We had said we were going to BW3s, we ended up at The Green Turtle. This “sports bar” closes at 10 PM (basically half time of the games). I ask Kelly and Lisa if they can drop me at Shell’s where I can catch the rest of the game on TV. They agree. It’s only 15 minutes away. But, oh what a 15 minutes. Waze takes us the “back way”. I’ve made the drive from this area back to Shell’s before. it’s very reasonable.  That is, it’s reasonable if you don’t turn right on “Dead Man’s Way”. That’s not the actual name of the “street”, but that’s what I’m going to call it from now on. Pro tip: If you’re driving in Western Pennsylvania and you see a sign that says “Winding Road” either be prepared for the ride of your life or turn around.  As Gabe said it’s “next level dark” out here. The road is about as wide as you’d expect a one-lane driveway to be. There are trees growing right up to the edge of the road (on both sides in spots). There are potholes that could eat your car and you’d never be seen again. I’m watching Waze and giving instructions to Kelly. He’s trying to go as fast as possible to get us out of here, but too fast and you’ll blow a tire. Two black men with a white woman in the back seat, in Klan country. This is not a good place to have a flat. I’m watching Waze count down the miles to the next turn which I know will put us back onto a road that at least has two full lanes when Waze gets stuck. It’s been saying 0.3 miles way too long. What is happening? Did we lose the signal again? Then, Lisa reminds me it’s not counting down because we are going so slowly. Finally, I see 0.2.  Then 0.1 appears and we spot the road that leads to Shell’s house. Hallelujah!

It’s then I realize that Shell has given me the code to her door but with no one home, I have to go into the house and face Dog alone. Dog is Shell’s dog. And his name is Dog. Dog is about a 100-pound German shepherd who likes no one but Shell. I’ve never been alone with Dog and I’m not sure how this is going to go. I ask Lisa and Kelly to wait outside the door in case they need to call 911 after Dog mauls me.

I’ve got the code and I know it’s right, but the door won’t open. I try, two, three, four times. Dog is barking and growling saying “Please just come through that door. Make my day.” Finally, the door opens, I open it just wide enough to see Dog, but not wide enough for him to get his massive head through the opening.  He’s not barking, not snarling, but he’s standing in my way. He needs to back up so I can get in. I timidly open the door and greet him with confidence. “Hey Dog, let’s go upstairs.”  He starts up the stairs, I follow. Whew!  I survived cell phone hell, Dead Man’s Way, and my first solo encounter with Dog.

I turn on the TV, pour myself a Buffalo Trace, and watch the Buckeyes make an amazing comeback to beat Penn State in the final minutes. Hours after we left the reception, I get my first message from Tywana “We’re on the way.” She, Shell, and Rod come home. Nick and Nicole are married, everyone’s survived this most bizarre episode of Survivor, and all is right with the world. Shayna, I know you were here.

 

Last night, Helping Parents Heal, welcomed Jamie Clark.  Jamie is a medium who has been tested under controlled conditions by Dr. Gary Schwartz, a well-known afterlife researcher. Jamie has proven his ability. Jamie shared with our group his unique path to mediumship, based on a vision at the age of five years old, growing up in a family of mediums who supported his gift, and how he had to watch many of his family members transition while he was growing up.  Jamie spoke about everything from soul planning, to suicides, to Jesus’s role in the universe to extraterrestrials. But, here’s the amazing part.

Jamie doesn’t know me. I saw him once in Arizona where he was doing a gallery reading. Last night, he was presenting his perspective on the afterlife to our HPH group. He was not doing readings. Before the meeting started, he and I and a few other people were on. We were just chatting and he stopped and delivered a message to me. I couldn’t hear it because of the background noise. It was something about his sensing me being a speaker and being asked to join another organization. Then, during the meeting, he interrupted himself and said that Shayna was coming through. But, he wasn’t delivering messages last night, so he let that go.

I asked him this morning if he could repeat the message he delivered to me last night and elaborate on what he heard from Shayna. This is what he said:

“She makes me feel that you may create your own organization or join another one in addition to this one, HPH. Be open she will guide you with your New Life choices. I like your daughter’s Energy… Strong, playful and compassionate. Trust what you feel and put your team together!”

What Jamie didn’t know last night, and didn’t know until after I asked him to repeat the message, was that I had an interview this morning and I accepted the job.

I just remembered. I have to give credit to Kat Baillie. Kat did a reading for me several months ago.  It was June or earlier.  She told me she saw me starting to get paid for what I do in September. At the time, all I could think of was the AREI symposium (the afterlife symposium in Scottsdale, AZ). But, I wasn’t sure if I was going to AREI, I wouldn’t be asked to speak there, and I don’t think they pay their presenters. It was all I could think of that could possibly happen in September.  I start the new job on September 12th.

Not all mediums are fakes, people.

On Sunday, Sheri Perl spoke to the Helping Parents Heal UK group about Electronic Voice Phenomena. Sheri described what EVP is, as well as explained a little bit about how to do it.

EVP is a way of communicating with spirit through the use of sound recordings. It’s almost like a telephone to spirit. You ask questions while playing a sound source in the background which you record. The responses from spirit are not usually heard until the recorded sound is played back and carefully audited. We don’t know how they do it, however, through thought and concentration spirit is able to influence the sound that we provide into audible words that we can understand. Although there are various sound sources that can be used, most often we use human speech which is digitally chopped up into unintelligible gibberish. Upon playback, actual messages, which were imprinted by spirit into the gibberish can be heard. For those of you interested in trying this yourselves, Sheri has created a user-friendly slideshow designed for both Mac and PC users that literally walks you through the steps necessary to configure your computer to record EVPs. This program can be downloaded for free at: http://sheriperl.com/evpguide

Through working with an electronic sound source made by ITC Researcher Keith Clark (idigitalmedium.com) Sheri has developed the ability to hear long messages from spirit and to take dictation directly from the recording. This is not technically Electronic Voice Phenomenon because EVP should create a message that just about anyone can hear, which is not the case using this kind of sound source. Therefore, Sheri calls what she does Electronic Assisted Clairaudience, because although she uses an electronic sound source to hear the messages, her ability to hear rests in what is called clairaudience.

Just before our meeting began, Sheri opened her clairaudient line and ask if there was anything that she should be sure to mention. Her son Danny immediately came through with a message from the children. We know from experience that the kids typically gather when we are having these meetings. Her son expressed that the message was for all the parents who would be attending the meeting, however, I believe it’s for all of us. Keep in mind that a typical EVP is not usually longer than a few seconds. This transmission is about three minutes long.

Part of the collateral beauty of living this life I’m living now is I have the opportunity to interact with some of the best healers, spiritual teachers, mediums, etc. in the world. Just this week I’ve been on calls with people in London and Australia. Tomorrow night I get to talk to a guy who had an NDE like none I’ve ever heard before. Last night, our HPH Online Group hosted Elizabeth Robinson.  Elizabeth is an intuitive, a trained counselor, coach, and Hay House author (There Are No Goodbyes).  It’s a pretty good gig, but I’d give it all up to have Shayna back.

For an hour and a half, Elizabeth shared with us about her life’s journey that has led her to this point and the wisdom Spirit has given her. Forty plus parents sat transfixed as we took it all in. As usual, we had a ton of questions. Why all the pain? Is this soul planned?  Murders?  Suicides?  Why us? Why our kids? Why?

Near the end, Elizabeth said something incredibly profound. I’ve heard it before, but I need to listen to it again, and again, and again. I need to hear it over and over because my humanity rejects it. Suzanne Giesemann has channeled Sanaya saying it.  Others have told me this same thing. We imagine the ideal life as being free from trouble. Healthy, wealthy, and with no challenges is the way my humanity wants to go through life. But, that’s not what my soul craves. My soul desires growth. If I actually wanted to live a cushy life, I would never have incarnated into this world where Jesus proclaimed we would have tribulation. Not we probably will have trouble, not we might have trouble. We will have trouble. If you look at someone, thinking their life is perfect, just get to know them a bit. None of us gets out of here unscathed.

Elizabeth said the “The ideal life challenges and changes.” What we, as humans, think of as the ideal life is not going to challenge us or change us. Many of us genuinely start on the journey of awakening and self-awareness when the tragedy, we would never have planned as humans, comes into our life. Our humanity rejects what our souls crave.

As much as I know this, I still pray for comfort. I still pray for relief. I still wish I could go back three years or forward thirty; I don’t care which, just get me out of here. And, that’s OK. That’s human. That’s part of it. Meanwhile, my higher self and my Team is saying “Hang in there. This is the ideal life. This is the one you signed up for, the life that challenges and changes. You can rest when you’re ‘dead'”.

 

 

A couple of days ago Kayla and I went to see Amy Lee (Evanescence) and Lindsey Stirling in concert. This was Kayla’s first major concert experience. She had seen Morgan James with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and Black Violin.  She’s also been to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Evanescence is touring in support of their Synthesis album, which is done with a full orchestra. Lindsey Stirling is a violinist who combines ballet dancing with Michael Jackson like moves into her show. I’m maybe more excited about this concert than any I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Earth, Wind & Fire, some great shows. I’ve seen Morgan James in a couple of intimate venues and with a full orchestra. However, seeing Amy Lee with a full orchestra, and Evanescence I know will be an experience like no other.  I wonder how I’ll react when she comes on stage because her voice always, without fail, gives me goosebumps. Her songs often bring me to tears. I can’t cry in front of Kayla, but if it happens, it happens.

I adore Evanescence’s first album. The music is excellent and there are some songs with very moving lyrics. To think that Amy was 20 when the album was put out and to have a song with the depth of “My Immortal” blows my mind.  Their second album did not impress me. There are only two or three songs that I like much from that albums. So, when their third album finally came out in 2012, I wasn’t even aware until after the time Shayna had passed.  The girls and I used to watch the video from My Immortal and they both listened to the first album. I was in love with Amy Lee, but Evanescence, not so much.  I heard that the 2012 record was different from their second album so I decided to give it a listen.  This was just weeks after Shayna had passed and I was doing a lot of walking and listening to music to clear my head.  I gave the album a try. It was as if the album was written just for me. The key to an artist connecting to us I think is to take what is their personal experience, make it universal, give it to us, and we translate it back into our own experiences.  At the time I wondered what type of loss Amy must have experienced in her young life to write and sing with such passion about themes like loss, longing, dealing with seemingly unbearable pain, and hope for a better future.

Songs 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, and 16- My Heart Is Broken, The Other Side (Counting the Days), Lost In Paradise, End of the Dream, Never Go Back, Swimming Home (I can just picture Shayna going Home when I listen to this one), and Secret Door touched me to my very core.  My Heart is Broken is the feeling we have when they first leave. Then, we’re counting the days until we meet them on The Other Side.  We wander this Earth only half alive Lost in Paradise. We long for the End of the Dream, but we have hope knowing it will come.  No dream lasts forever. Never Go Back is that feeling we have when we want to go back but we know the only way out is forward.  The old days are behind us.  Swimming Home I imagine is that feeling that people report from NDEs.  They’re going Home. They still love us, but they’re being called Home and cannot resist that siren call. Finally, Secret Door is when our time finally comes and we get to fly Home through that Secret Door.

Anyway, back to the concert.  There was warm-up act- Cellogram.  He was just OK.  Now, out comes Lindsey.  I’ve seen her videos and know about her dancing.  What surprises me is she tours with a dance company. This isn’t just her standing the middle of the stage playing the violin. She does about five costume changes and dances for the entire hour and a half set.  A few songs into her set, she does Shatter Me from one of her albums, and Amy Lee walks out to do the vocals for the song. Lzzy Hale sings the song on Lindsey’s album. Sorry Lzzy Hale, I’ll never hear Shatter Me the same way again after hearing Amy sing it.

Lindsey’s done her set, and now it’s time for Amy Lee, I mean Evanescence. As I said, I’ve been to a few symphony performances. I’ve seen some rock/pop concerts. I have never felt the energy coming from the music the way I did from this combination of Amy Lee’s powerful voice, the lyrics that touch the soul, the band, and the full orchestra; which was used to perfection. I sat in my seat for 3-1/2 hours (except for standing for ovations and on a couple of songs).  I was completely enthralled. The fear of over-anticipation ruining the actual event was unwarranted. It was everything I hoped for and more.

Even though almost every single song made me think of Shayna, I was able to keep my composure during the concert.  Lots of goosebumps, but no tears. I belted out the lyrics I knew to the sky. I sent waves of love and gratitude to Amy for expressing so exquisitely what I cannot convey on my own. I hoped she felt the love that I and thousands of others were sending to her in waves. Interestingly, I most connect with the songs from the third album, the one I listened to the summer of 2015.  But, when she sang My Immortal something happened that I have never experienced before.  I’m not sure why except maybe that is the song Shayna most connects to since she didn’t hear the third album while she was in the flesh. I felt that Shayna’s energy was right there with me. I felt her presence in a way I’m not sure I ever have. I was sitting in my seat, and I felt an electrical charge from head to toe.  It was a sort of buzzing. I felt as if she sat in me. Not on me, not on my lap, it was as if her energy body sat in my seat with me and merged into me. This is the opening of the song:

I’m so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
‘Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won’t leave me alone

 

Last week, we had a family reunion in Phoenix, AZ. This wasn’t the blood type of family.  This is family bound by covenant. These are people in our Soul Group who were not born into our human family tree. Shortly after Shayna passed, Tywana and I connected with Helping Parents Heal which connected us to Mark Pitstick and Suzanne Giesemann, which connected us to…. and on and on…  Bonds for life have been formed.

By the time we heard about the Afterlife Research and Education Institute Symposium, we knew of or had connected with just about all of the presenters and many of the attendees.  Roberta Grimes is a member of the board. She’s like an old friend to me, even though I had never laid eyes on her in person until last week. We met two bereaved mothers in Florida in February that I’ve been working with at both Helping Parents Heal and the SoulPhone foundation.  They were going to be in attendance. All in all, I think there were about a dozen people we knew from Helping Parents Heal who were at the conference.

The conference itself did not disappoint.  The first annual event for this organization sold out with over 500 attendees from all over the world.  Some of the top researchers and educators in the field of the “afterlife” presented, most of whom I had heard speak several times before due to the magic of YouTube and podcasts, but to meet them face-to-face was really cool.  I co-moderate a group for Cyrus Kirtkpatrick, a young pioneer in out of body experiences and the author of Understanding Life After Death.  Cyrus and I have communicated over Facebook a bunch, but I had never even heard his voice until last week.  He was one of the presenters as well.  Susanne Wilson, in a reading I had with her a year and a half ago told me that one day I’d be working with Victor Zammit. She said she didn’t know if that was a literal or a symbolic thing, but there was Victor Zammit with his wife Wendy, all the way from Australia.  They were so busy during the conference, I didn’t impose to introduce myself, but I did get a Facebook friend request from Victor a couple of days ago. Victor and Wendy are tireless teachers and researchers in the field of the afterlife.

Topics at the conference covered everything from the nature of consciousness, to mediumship (physical and mental), to end of life planning, to out of body experiences, to the nature of orbs, to race relations (thanks to Roberta).

On the final day of the conference, Roberta Grimes gave a presentation on the “new spirituality”.  Many of at the conference were Christians or former Christians. So, the talk of a new spirituality may have triggered that fear that was planted in us about being “deceived”.  Was this conference the forming of some new type of cult? Are we being led astray?  These are serious considerations. So, I reflected on the messages of the conference. After all, Satan comes disguised as an angel of light. Right?

All weekend long if there were two words that summed up all of the presentations they are “love” and “service”.  I could not attend every session, because many overlapped. But, every presenter I remember hearing spoke about how we are all here to serve each other and that, in the end, it’s all about love. The energy at a conference, ostensibly about death, was amazingly high. There was a film crew there shooting a documentary and I heard they commented on the energy and the love that was flowing among the attendees.  I was part of the Helping Parents Heal group that hung out during the convention and I heard that people kept asking “Who is that happy group over there in the corner of the lobby?” Some even asked how they could join. Well, you don’t want to know.   To join, you have to have had a child make her transition before you. We have suffered the ultimate loss. But, that loss has bonded us together.  As we joined at this conference to reinforce the knowing that there is no death, we celebrated that knowledge and we encouraged each other to go forth from there with the absolute assurance that our kids are still with us, even if not in physical form, and that we will see them again one day, soon enough.

Roberta told us the new spirituality is about knowing that we are eternal beings who never began and never will end and that we are infinitely loved. Then, she told us the best way to be the best humans we can be is to follow…. wait for it…. Jesus. Don’t get it twisted. This doesn’t mean going back to Christianity with its judgment and original sin and Jesus being murdered for our sins. It’s to follow the actual teachings of Jesus.

We ended the conference with a ritual that Dr. Mark Pitstick introduced me to in April- The Angel Wash.  How to describe the angel wash? If you’ve never experienced it, words just will not do.  What you experience is unconditional love like most of us have never felt, from a room full of “strangers”. The energy is almost overwhelming. Grown men openly weep. People release years of baggage in just a few minutes.  At this particular angel wash, I got to be on the sending end of the ritual starting people down the line.  It was an amazing experience to whisper unconditional love into a perfect stranger’s ear and have them receive it.  If you ever get the chance to do an Angel Wash, make sure you do.

Sunday rolled around way too soon and the conference was over.  We ended with a farewell dinner at the house of two of the parents from Helping Parents Heal.  Roberta asked me if I am going to be at the conference next year.  Normally, I’d hedge my bets. I might not be alive next year. Money’s tight. We did just do this one and we’re already planning a trip to Arizona for April.  But, without hesitation, I said yes.  Can’t miss it.

This weekend I’ve been at the Afterlife Research and Education Conference. The conference itself has been outstanding with the top experts in afterlife research making appearances.

As our questions about the afterlife are answered, one question remains and keeps coming up over and over again.  If the afterlife is so idyllic, why the hell do we come here to do this?  Not only do we do it once.  We do it over and over again. Not only do we keep repeating it, we plan in the pain. We even plan for things as masochistic as the death of a child.

There is not on answer to this question of why. The best theories are that we do this for personal development or growth. Roberta Grimes likes to say this is just a bad afternoon in the gym.  Another prominent theory is we do it for excitement or adventure. It’s boring being in perfection all the time.  We want to experience separation. We want to experience lack. We want to experience pain.  These answers are ultimately focused on the self.  We want to grow so we can be better than others  or at least better than we are now.  We want to advance to the higher levels.  Or, this is just a play for our amusement or a trip to a sometimes scary Disney World.   I think it’s a little of both of those things.  But, what I’m coming around to is the main reason is we come here to serve and to love. Personal development is great because it increases our capacity to serve in greater and greater ways. The strong we become, the more we can empathize, the more we can serve.

This weekend, the conference within the conference has been me hanging out with a group of warrior women from Helping Parents Heal.  Colorado Beth, Hawaii Beth, Colleen, Heidi, Irene, Lynn Maryann, Sara,Sue, Terri,Tracy and Tywana are all with Helping Parents Heal. Each of us has had the experience of the “loss” of a child. Don’t ask me why there are no men here. It is what it is.  Some of these women I have known for a few months, even though the bond is so strong it seems like several years.  Some I have known via social media.  Some I only met a few days ago.

Last night, after the agenda for the day was over, we went over to Whole Foods, grabbed some prepared foods and came back to the hotel where we sat on the patio and shared food and a glass or six of wine.  As I looked around the circle, I was reminded of the mini series  Band of Brothers. This is a band of sisters, and Brian. We are on a mission.  Maryann told us that she is descended from the Spartans, appropriate for the mission she is on.  As we were discussing what we are doing here, I reminded Colonel Beth (not a metaphor, she is an actual Colonel in the US military) that we signed up for this mission. We have to see it through. These are the bravest of the brave. They did not comes here to have fun. Nor did they come here simply for their own personal growth. Sara tells us she and Scott, her son who passed away at the age of 19, have done this numerous times. You don’t do that for fun. And I really don’t believe Sara is a slow learner that needed to repeat the same lesson again and again to get it. She does it to heal the world, as we all do. As much as we hate to say it, and more so hate to hear it, we have probably done it before and we will probably do it again.

As we sat in the circle last night we took a break from our mission of saving the world, but we didn’t stop serving.  We served each other. We have all been battered and bloodied on the mission. We took a night to dress our wounds. We shared our stories. And what stories they are. The tales are so fantastic that anyone who hasn’t had these experiences wouldn’t believe them. Colleen shared stories that would be cut from a Hollywood script because the audience would never believe 26 feathers would fall from the sky to show a skeptic Austin is still here.  The stories are also too numerous to tell here.  These are not one offs.  They are not rarities. We are being assisted and guided on this mission.  As we shared the stories, the magic that the universe tries to hide, making us believe life is all random and chance, was exposed.  I was spontaneously filled with gratitude for this revelation. People keep telling me to “practice” gratitude. “Being grateful will raise your vibrational level and draw good things to you.”  Well, gratitude comes hard to a parent who has “lost” a child.  I’ve seen parents faking it, posting sweet affirmations on Facebook trying to convince themselves and the wold they are feeling something they are not. For me, gratitude comes  naturally when I step back a bit. When I remember I am not just the human who will live here, I am the Observer who planned this whole thing and am, slowly, day by day fulfilling my mission, when I trust in that, in spite of the appearances, that is when the gratitude comes naturally.

We comforted each other as well as sharing our stories. We reminded each other of the bigger picture that is so easy to forget in the day to day skirmishes.  As we sat there talking I got the feeling the plan was coming together. I love words.  The word coalesce came into my head.  We had just seen Suzanne Giesemann channel a group of advanced beings she calls Sanayyah. I wonder if perhaps we are a Sanayyah in the making.  I’ve been told that on, the levels above the astral planes, people instead of identifying as individuals identify as a collective.

Sanayyyah reminded us that, while our children’s “deaths” are tragic from our human perspective, they are no tragic from the perspective of the soul.  They are opportunities for growth.  More importantly, they are opportunities for service.  And, each and every one of these brave women is serving with honor.

As I sat in the circle, lyrics from a Don Henley song played on a loop in my head.

You think this is love
Your education starts today
So you think this is love?
So tell me
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you want it?
Not bad enough
So you put a hold on happiness
… a day, a week, a year
You got to bring somethin’ to this party, boy
If you party here.

Yeah, to be a part of this party, you got to bring something all right. We have all paid a dear price to be in this circle.  We have put a hold on our personal happiness.  It’s a temporary hold. We will have this party again in the Summerland one day and we will have some stories to tell then!  I wonder if they have boxed wine in the Summerlands.

As I got my download this morning, the title for this post came to me.  A couple of options presented themselves.   “To Serve Man” is the title of an episode of the Twilight Zone. In the episode, humans find a book left behind by an alien.  They translate the title to find out it says To Serve Man.  The twist is the book is not a book about serving, but it’s a cookbook.  But, that’s not important to my tale today.  I liked the title. As I sat alone at breakfast on the patio, I overheard a conversation between two women at the table next to me. They were marveling about the advancements of technology. One said to the other “Isn’t it amazing. I can download any episode I want of Twilight Zone to my phone and play it whenever I want.”  What?  Did she just mention Twilight Zone?   I’m not even amazed by the synchronicities anymore.  I am grateful for them. I note them and I cherish them.  But, I know they will just keep coming as the plan unfolds itself and we serve until the mission is complete.

p.s.- I like to get two events before I call something a synchronicity. Otherwise, it could be random chance. Either two validations of the triggering thing or two triggers each with a validation. Tonight, after the farewell party, we were being driven back to our hotel. Suzanne was talking about “the heart” and just then Don Henley’s The Heart of the Matter came on the radio. The radio volume was pretty low and I don’t think I would have noticed had she not pointed out the coincidence. What I didn’t tell anyone is that I had made a Don Henley reference in this post this morning and was actually considering another Don Henley song as the title. Synchronicity number two. Validation noted.