Hello dear friends
I have been thinking today about an experience of death I had when I was eight years old that changed my life forever. Sombre you might ask? Yes, it is rather but reading an article on Mumamia.com.au/rebecca-sparrow about the loss of her still-born child in 2010 led me to this memory. But first, let us see what Rebecca says:
“I remember the exact moment I became a different person.
The moment when the old me sort of dissolved. Faded to black. Blew away in the softest of breezes. The moment my protective casing hardened while my heart became more vulnerable, splitting open like an over-ripe summer peach.
I remember the moment I started seeing the world through a new prism. It was the moment I sat alone in a hospital room in 2010 and stared into the face of my stillborn daughter.
That’s when something in me shifted – like a Rubik’s cube. From that moment the past would forever be categorised as either the time Before Georgie Died or the time After Georgie Died.”
Rebecca was led to write her story by ANOTHER piece she read in the Sydney Morning Herald by Wendy Spires who wrote about losing her mother:
“It was as if by watching my mother take her last breath, I got to inhale my first as a true free spirit. I saw the game of life as I lived it laid out before me and realised I was never going to win playing by other people’s rules. In fact, I no longer wanted to play at all. It was time to chuck in my chips.”
“I look back now at elements of my old life with abject scorn: high-priced handbags, front-row fashion parades, Brazilian waxes, designer clothes, gossip, office politics, scenery restaurants, social pages, fake tans, $200 foils, eyebrow whisperers, low-fat cheese … It all means nothing.”
Reading these two articles had me thinking back to the death of my grandfather in the 1950s; it was not that I was close to him that changed my life forever. No, it was the fact that my grandmother led me to kneel beside his coffin where he was laid out. Meanwhile all the Lebanese people surrounding him were praying the rosary. I was staring directly at his face from my position next to the coffin which took up a lot of the Lounge Room.
And then my grandmother said to me between sobs, “Go on Theresa … kiss your grandfather.” She was so fearsome that I dared not disobey and I duly kissed his forehead … which felt like kissing a cold hard refrigerator! It was something I never forgot.
In fact, this event left me so traumatised that I vowed not to look at any dead people in their coffins ever again. There were many requests for me to do so, but I resisted every effort to get me to change my mind. And then, when I was 43 years old, my father died suddenly.
What was I to do? Keep this vow for the rest of my life? Was I big enough to let it go? To take a deep breath and change my mind perhaps? I was now an adult after all and I wanted to see my father for the last time … and so I came to do the unthinkable. I visited my father (in his coffin) at the Funeral Home with the rest of the family.
It proved such a satisfying experience that it began to wipe out the trauma of kissing my dead grandfather. I also saw my mother after she died suddenly (three days later) and that too was a ‘good’ experience. Then in 2011, I held our dear little twins when they had passed away. It felt so good to farewell these little boys. I had come a long long way.
However, despite my new ability to view the dead, I had not actually been with any family member when they passed over to the other side … that is until my sister died on New Years Day this year. It was as if God was preparing me for that moment right from the time I opened myself up to accept death without any fear.
And I have to say that being present with my sister as she journeyed toward death on New Years Day, was the most powerful experience of my life. It was indeed a privilege to hold her hand, to stroke her hair and to tell her of my love. Like Rebecca Sparrow, it was at that exact moment, that I became a different person.
The child who had so feared death, had come full circle and was now enabling her oldest sister to make the change to another life. I had grown up and was now reassuring my sister that I would not leave her until the end; that I would not desert her at this most important time of her life. I became totally focused on being there for her.
And I was so blessed to be able to make this promise come true. My life has never been the same since that day. I now understand and ‘get’ what death is about.It has changed me and left me with very little fear of death but it has also given me an understanding of death that I could never have imagined – as an eight year old – that I would ever gain.
I have come to see that in order to LIVE WELL one must be willing to DIE WELL … and not fear death. My life will never be the same again …