Some days are just plain magical. On my way to work I saw a vibrant blue jay feather straight up swirling around in a spiral of wind about 20 feet in the air….I had never seen anything like it and I burst out laughing as I drove. It seemed to be a definite sign from spirit I needed to lighten up and see the beauty all around me and unwrap myself of my preoccupation.
As I walked up to my second patient’s house a blue swallowtail butterfly fluttered by. We sat at her kitchen table, and chatted, well she chatted, she knew things were changing for her and she said she no longer wanted to spend time with anyone who was negative. She wanted to spend her time with the “good stuff”. I mentioned the blue swallowtail and she was very excited. She said when her husband died she had ordered butterflies in cocoons and they released them at his grave site. She said it was incredibly beautiful to watch the butterflies emerge and stretch and then hover over her husband’s grave before they flew off into the sky.
I shared with her my morning experience with the blue jay feather. She smiled and disappeared into her bedroom. Moments later she returned with a large white feather that had a small heart and iridescent ribbon wrapped around it. She presented it to me saying “My granddaughter gave this to me a long time ago; she told me it was a feather from an angel’s wing. I want you to have it!”
My heart melted, how sweet, I felt shivers of energy up and down my back and knew spirit was with us. I thanked her over and over again, and gave her a hug. I knew in that moment I would never forget this woman, she had touched my soul and given me the gift of joy.
4am thunder storms awaken me; or rather the anxiety of my dog during the storm awakens me. The sky rumbles and sparkles and the rains nourish my now crunchy lawn. It has been a hot summer already…. I check my phone and I have missed a text in the midst of my slumber…. Someone I love, someone who is far away in a different time zone reached out to me….and I was in the land of Nod. Disappointed I did not hear it, I text back with no results, hoping against hope he is sleeping….
I know his struggles….my heart feels them, as a mother’s love only can. He is an adult, he makes his own choices, I can no longer decide for him, I can only walk beside him, and only if he reaches out to me. Addiction is a disease of mind body and spirit; it is one that has flavored my entire life. My father was an alcoholic and it has been passed down the genetic stream. It is somehow so familiar at first I did not recognize it in my loved one; it was common place, a way of life.
There have been huge challenges in the past two years, significant events that threw everything off balance, but now we move forward, finding joy and gratitude in each day for the small miracles that remain. A new Light has emerged, one I was hoping would guide him back to himself but it is a long arduous path, and at times life continues to trip him up.
When he was a baby I worried as any parent does, staring down at him in the crib in the middle of the night, is he still breathing? I heard a distinct voice, outside of my own thoughts but not exactly in the room either, the voice told me “Do not worry; he will be with you for a long time!” This has brought me great comfort over the years, and while I try not to worry, I confess I do. This is when I pray, I ask that Archangel Michael with his Divine sword, protects him and guides him. I trust that the Divine source will always watch over all of my loved ones, near and far. And I will carry him in my heart until he can carry himself again, for after the storm there is always a new day.
I love the early morning sky as I listen to the bird songs and watch the colors of the day emerge from the rosy/fiery sunrise into the clear blueness of the day. But last night at 2:45am, albeit technically morning, the sky was dark and obscured by clouds. I was up with my dog and as I walked out onto the deck fully expecting the deep silence of the night I heard a lone Catbird singing his mashed up song in the oak tree of my neighbor’s yard. It did not seem to matter to him that the sun was still sleeping or that his voice was the only voice carrying into the darkness. The name Catbird must cause some crisis of identity. To live labeled with your arch nemesis name attached to yours seems somehow unkind -CATbird. Even his song is not his own, it is a combination of mimicked sounds he has found appealing, snippets of random songs of other birds; he is the DJ of the bird world. None of this deters him, still he sings into the night.
I trundle back to bed hoping the Sandman will be kind to me for at least a few more hours. When I reawaken I hear the song of the Catbird once more. The day has come and he continues to do what he does best, sing. His cares are not of the human kind even though he lives among us. His world is of the boundless sky, the trees and the song. I envy him for he does not worry his day away, he does not wander recklessly into the future of “what ifs”, he stays in this moment and he sings. His song brings me joy and hope and I am ever grateful for it.
There are many hard things in life, but to me saying goodbye to your child is probably the hardest. It is not something I have experienced directly although my youngest child has been at death’s door twice due to his epilepsy he has returned to me both times. When I was a toddler my aunt lost her daughter of six to cancer, she was someone I played with on a regular basis and so I felt her loss deeply as well as my aunts. My aunt has a smile that reflects her hidden pain, she is one of the best huggers I have ever met, she knows the feel of one last hug. I believe this experience in my life is the reason I became a hospice nurse, it colored my world with deep greens and blues, the colors of healing and sorrow.
This past weekend I accompanied my dear friend to the ICU 2500 miles away to bear witness as she said goodbye to her youngest son. He had been a brilliant young man who had made his own way following his dreams until alcohol slowly destroyed his life. It was not for a lack of trying; he had been through multiple rehabs but ultimately was unable to come out the other side of sobriety. There is no shame, no judgment; there is just life and choices. We are all God’s children, perfect and whole in his Light.
He had called to his mother in a dream earlier in the week, he needed her, and so she went to be by his side in his last moments. A mother’s love knows no distance. A mother’s love is unwavering. A mother’s love finds the strength to endure the unthinkable. He needed her to help him let go and move into the loving arms of his father who had passed several years earlier and this is exactly what she did.
As we stood on the street outside the hospital a crow silently landed in the tree above us. She said she thought it was the sign of death, yes but I said the Crow brings with it the sign of Faithful Love. It is perhaps little consolation in such a momentous moment, but it was a beautiful bittersweet gift of spirit, as a mother’s love is unconditional and ever faithful from this world to the next.
Posted in spiritual
Tagged addiction, alcoholism, cancer, crow, Death, death of a child, drug addiction, Epilepsy, faithful love, God's children, grief, mother's love
We spent last week in San Francisco, a place where I truly leave a piece of my heart every time I leave. In the past year our family has faced addiction, rehab and recovery, relapse, recovery, the death of a childhood friend from addiction and the harsh reality of a life unlived. This year we began with a new light, a new life has entered our world, bringing back a spark of JOY and WONDER. There is an intensity to the JOY that perhaps would not have been as sorrow has opened our souls to hold more, reshaping our perspective of gratitude. A blessing is a blessing doubled when you have been visited by the dark night of the soul.
San Francisco has a huge homeless population because it is such a temperate climate. Walking into the grocery store I see a young man in his thirties, if that, begging for change. When we return an hour later he is swaying, eyes closed with an empty six pack next to him. He is unaware of my observation, being a nurse I am always assessing people’s health status, it’s just a part of my being. He is young, well nourished, smooth skinned individual who is definitely in need of a bath. We place our groceries in the car and I grab a bottle of water and a few pieces of fruit. I approach the young man, I place my offerings next to his disarray of personal items softly speaking to him, “You might be thirsty or hungry later, it’s not much, but it might make you feel better.” It’s not much; it’s just a small gesture, one I give in love and compassion because I know in my heart he belongs to someone. Someone brought him into this world and held him and loved him and now he sways to the rhythm of his alcohol haze. He is someone’s child, brother, friend and he is a Child of God no matter his choices. I know that his Guardian Angel is standing beside him forever loving him and offering him encouragement. I do not profess to know what his journey is about, but I do know this,- someone is missing his once bright smile, the sparkle in his eye and the sound of his laughter. Somewhere there is a mother with a broken heart, and so I send this young man love, a mother’s love, because it is a small gesture that I hope he feels and someday heals from the sadness that sent him here. And I know that but for the Grace of God that could have been my own broken heart.
Posted in spiritual
Tagged addiction, alcoholism, child of god, Dark night of the soul, God, grace, guardian angel, homeless, life, love, mother's love, san francisco
In hospice I work on the edge of this world, often peering into the vast unknown of where my patients eventually transition to: the Great Beyond.
This past week my youngest son brought up the subject of MY death, what would happen if I died, how would if affect his world, his brothers’ worlds…. I listen. Twice we had this conversation, and twice I assured him I was in no hurry to leave, although the allure of ICE CREAM is ever prevalent. (see my previous post).
Yesterday on my way to see my first hospice patient I am driving more attentive than usual because of these previous conversations. It’s easy to relax your attention and daydream but this morning I am watchful. Someone is whispering in my ear… And then I see it! A car coming head on towards me with his blinker on indicating he wants to make a left hand turn in front of me but there’s no place for him to turn. I slowdown and stare- possibly not the best response- but it does give him time to swerve back into his lane. As he passes by me he glares annoyed and waved his arms at me as if I am in HIS way…oh my!
Something prompts me to look at the next car- on its license plate is the name AZRAEL- the name of the Angel of Death. I have spent time with this Angel, he and I know each other well. He is an Archangel whose name means “He whom helps God”. I do not see the driver, but the car passes me without incident. I realized if I hadn’t been paying attention this could have had a very different outcome.
With all the Divine Intervention in my life I am still amazed when it becomes undeniable that the ANGELS and my SPIRIT FAMILY are watching out for me. I give up a prayer of gratitude. My day is uneventful and I am ever grateful for that.
Yesterday one of my patients I have been seeing for about a month opened up and asked me the big question I often get asked “When?” “When will I die?” I always answer honestly that I do not know, it seems to come as a disappointment that being a hospice nurse I am not privy to insider information. But it does open up the conversation to larger things, exploration of one’s beliefs, sharing of stories to allay fears and the opening up of the soul, the remembering.
This gentleman had been somewhat reserved in my prior visits, mostly due to his disease process, I would always look deeply into his eyes when I cared for him because I felt he had much to say but an inability to express himself, yesterday was different, with a bit of patience he was able to ask that burning question, “When?” It is truly unanswerable, perhaps if we came into this life with a barcode stating our entrance and our exit dates we would live differently, but that is not the case, so each day presents itself with Divine mystery, what miracles, what challenges will this day bring?.
I like to speak in analogies because it makes profound questions easier to digest. So I offered this to my patient and his wife who was holding his hand: Life is like spinach –it’s good for you and makes you grow stronger. Death is like ice cream-it comes at the end but it’s delicious, sweet and puts you in a happy place. We laugh, indeed we have all stared at that lump of green on our plate knowing we must consume the challenges life brings but always leaving a spot for ice cream!