One of my favorite lines from a hymn is from It Is Well With My Soul. While a lot of the theology of that song doesn’t fit into my current worldview, the story behind it makes it more special to me now than ever. I remember hearing it in church just a couple of weeks after Shayna passed and it brought me to my knees.
Horatio G. Spafford, after suffering a couple of other tragedies, lost his four daughters in a shipwreck. He wrote this song about accepting all of this, in the end. He was saying he had a deep abiding trust in the eventual goodness of this whole experience. One of the last lines is “Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight…” has deep, deep meaning for me now. He wrote the line referencing the return of Jesus in the clouds. I don’t wait for the rapture. For me, it’s about the day I can embrace Shayna again. Then my faith shall be made sight. This week, I saw a miracle. My faith was made sight, just a little bit. I got a peek behind the veil.
Just three days ago, the force that is Brenda Bollman Baker drew her last breath, or so we thought. Brenda is a dear woman I met three times at various conferences on spirituality. Brenda and her friend Lynette started a Facebook group called Souls Awakening, a group that has grown to nearly 100 members now. Souls Awakening is about developing spiritual gifts, developing souls, and developing mediumistic abilities. They have regular meetings over the internet and the women in the group (there were only a couple of us men) have grown into family more like sisters than just friends. Brenda and Lynette are so close that people started referring to them as Brenette. A few weeks ago Brenda was given three to six months to live. I saw her last about a month ago in Arizona where I got to give her one last hug.
We knew Brenda was going. This was not a surprise. Brenda planned for it and prepared us for it. Brenda was an English teacher at one time and was a teacher of all of us right up until the end. Even though everyone in this group believes strongly in the afterlife, this is the real test of your faith, when one of your own makes their transition. Sure, we believe we’ll see them again in the sweet by and by. But, we have to go through this loss now. And, while we believe, do we really know? Well, I do now.
I spent my entire life growing up in the church where we supposedly believe in heaven. But, as much as people believe, no one’s in a hurry to get there. We still have funerals that are largely dark and full of tears (I’m seeing a shift there to be fair). The end of a human life is certainly not something we celebrate. Brenda’s passing was however different from anything I’ve experienced.
Even before Brenda’s body took its last breath, she was already out visiting people. She visited Suzanne Giesemann, a world-class medium, on the hiking trail before her body stopped breathing. She visited Susanne Wilson, who she really didn’t know all that well in life. Brenda took her last breath, I believe it was 2 something PM Arizona time.
Just a few hours later, Brenda was dropping in on Susanne Wilson’s mediumship development class. Suzanne joined them on the meeting. She was scheduled to be with Brenda that night by Brenda’s death bed. Little did she know she’d be talking to Brenda that night, just not while Brenda was in the body. Suzanne and Susanne tag-teamed on a link with Brenda (now in spirit) and Brenda delivered messages to people telling them things she had agreed to tell before she left. It’s not up to me to reveal the details, but for one woman, she told her “When I get there, I’m going to send you this particular message. When you get it, you are no longer allowed to doubt.” That very message was delivered through Susanne Wilson that night.
But, Brenda was not done. She came through another medium in a totally separate event with another friend of mine. She delivered a secret message through another medium who is a member of Souls Awakening to a different member. Brenda was fulfilling her promises all over the place. She was going to come back and tell us it was all real. Then, Brenda had the group arrange a special Friday night session where she would be the star. She told Suzanne that she would speak through her to the group. I’m not really sure how to describe what I saw. I’ve seen Suzanne do readings. And, I’ve seen Suzanne channel her spirit guides Sanaya. Suzanne described the state she was in as somewhere in between the expanded consciousness she’s in for readings and the deep meditation she goes into for channeling Sanaya. Suzanne channeled Brenda as Brenda described her crossing to us, what it’s like where she is, and was just herself in all her Brenda-ness.
It was just like having a conversation with Brenda as Suzanne took on her inflections, her mannerisms, and delivered humor that could only be from Brenda. If you knew Brenda, you recognized Brenda on Suzanne’s face and in her voice. Brenda was surprised that the crossing was so uneventful. No tunnels or big bright lights. She said “I just woke up!”. Her guess is that because of all of the preparation she had done and her knowing that she would wake up, she didn’t need all the bells and whistles. She said breathing is a lot easier (breathing problems plagued her those last few weeks). And, she is surprised to find that she still breathes. She’s already met some of our kids and says she will continue to teach us from the other side. She said she’s been told she will continue to develop while there, but she will keep her Brenda persona when she’s dealing with us so that we can continue to recognize her.
That’s one of the miracles I beheld this week. The other is the way this group of people is reacting to Brenda’s “death”. When I said earlier Brenda’s body had taken its last breath, I inserted the word body because apparently Brenda is still breathing. I think I can safely speak for the group to say that while we expected to get a few signs from Brenda here and there, no one expected Brenda to be speaking directly to use a couple of days after her passing. She had Suzanne Giesemann taking dictation from her. Everyone is on Cloud 9. The energy in the meeting I was in last night, where Suzanne was channeling Brenda was almost overwhelming as everyone felt Brenda’s spirit and we knew, knew that she is still right here with us. Brenda said she doesn’t like us calling it the Other Side because she’s not on the other side of anything and that makes it sound like there’s a barrier between us. She said she’d have to work on another word for it.
Not to be Debbie Downer, but there is another side to this I have to address. Brenda leaves behind people who are going to miss her physical presence tremendously. They will miss her voice, her hugs, her smile. As much as the evidence Brenda has already given us gives up comfort, I have to acknowledge that Paul’s boast that death has no sting and the grave has no victory is certainly true in the long run, but it does sting a little right now. Lynette and Brenda’s family will miss her. When we asked Brenda what we can do for her, she said really nothing. She appreciates and feels all the good thoughts and prayers. She just doesn’t need them. Brenda is good. But, keep her son, daughter-in-law and the other half of Brenette in your thoughts.
Brenda, I am so glad I got to meet you, even as briefly as it was, in the flesh. And, I feel honored and privileged to have been part of this miracle of your passing and coming back to us. I never thought I would see anything like it.