As I’m about to head out of the door for my morning walk, my phone rings. It’s my brother. I slept in today so it’s nearly 8:30. But, when I get a call from my brother at 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday I know this is not good news. I let it go to voicemail, finish lacing up my shoes and call him back as I take the first few steps into my walk. I might as well be out moving when I hear whatever it is he has to tell me.
I hear him say Mom called this morning. My first thought is something has happened with my father. But, it’s not Dad. It’s my cousin Richard. Richard was taken to the hospital and left his body last night. This is surprising and sad, but not shocking. Richard hasn’t been well. Mom has been telling me how his appearance has changed over the recent weeks. He’s barely been able to walk he’s been so tired. He’s been weak and lethargic. Richard is 13 years my senior, 69. Since he was young Richard has struggled with mental issues, bipolar disorder I think. He’s been in and out of mental hospitals for decades. He would swing from exuberant where he would spend money like water and talk a mile a minutes to times when he would barely talk at all. Mostly he was quiet and shy in groups of people which is nearly always when I saw him, at a family gathering. So, my impression of Richard is one where he barely spoke a word. I regret not getting to know him better. Even though we grew up in the same city and I was close with his younger sister who was closer to my age, when I would have sleepovers at their house I barely saw Richard. Richard was great with dogs. When I think of him, I think of the many dogs he owned over the years. I suspect he was more comfortable with them than with people.
Richard always lived with my Aunt Lil. When he was younger, I thought of it as her taking care of him. As he grew older, it was him being there for her. Her other kids got married, moved away, and had their own kids. But, Richard was dedicated to Aunt LIl. As she aged into her 70s, 80s, and 90s and began having health challenges, Richard was the one that everyone counted on being there to take care of her. Finally, in the last few months, everyone admitted that even Richard couldn’t handle it anymore and just a few weeks ago, Aunt Lil moved into assisted living. Shockingly, to me anyway, she likes it there and says if she had known how it would be she would have gone earlier. This, she says after years of resistance. My understanding however is Richard did not handle it well. I suspect her departure from their house gave him permission to end his struggles here.
This time of year is difficult for people who are bipolar. The waning light, I believe triggers their brain chemistry to be more off balance than normal. As Aunt Lil has been doing well in her new surroundings, Richard was struggling. The family, my mother, his brothers and sister, grew concerned and did all they could do, even convincing him to accept help that he would normally accept and even making a doctor’s appointment for him. He was taken to the hospital just a few days before he passed, but he left on his own accord, refusing treatment. Nothing could be done. No one could have done any more for him. My belief is Richard was just done. Tired. Ready to go Home. With his mission of caring for Aunt Lil complete, I think he was ready to go.
As I continue my walk, I cry many tears for my family, for his surviving brothers and sister, Butch, Malcolm, and Michelle. I cry for the pain I know this will cause Aunt Lil. She has already had one child transition before her. But, I rejoiced for Richard. As one who believes in soul planning, I admire someone like Richard who would come here and take on the challenges he took on. In spite of his illness he had a career as an educator. He was always there for his mother. My uncle, his father, passed many years ago. Richard stepped up when that happened. He was a good brother to his sisters and his brothers.
I don’t hear spirits talking to me, but as I walk, I get the impression that Richard is saying to me that he, after all of these years in this body, he is finally free of the fog that had clouded his brain. I imagine him as he stepped out of his body into his new life. I see him being greeted by Joan, his sister, one of the sweetest souls who has ever graced this Earth and I am filled with joy thinking of their reunion. I imagine after such a challenging life, he’ll be in a rest and rehab facility or just taking a well deserved nap for a while.
I saw a post on Facebook saying that another one was “gone”. Well, yes and no. Richard has stepped out of his body. For us with this limited perspective, he is “gone”. But, from his perspective, he’s still right here. He has only gone where we will all go. He’s finished his mission sooner than we have finished ours. Job well done, cuz.