The living room had been hastily outfitted with a hospital bed for Irene's homecoming. Thankfully, her last days would be spent at home, surrounded
by family. She had slipped into a coma 10 days earlier. She was not expected
to wake from it. She would be kept comfortable now.
The family was so informed and they made the last decision regarding her care. She would have the feeding tubes removed and no more fluids would be given. She was expected to pass within 2-4 days time.
The end of her long life was near.
Aunt Irene did not pass quickly, however.
She lingered on for 10 days, much to everyone's distress.
I got the call late that night to come and lay hands on her.
I was new to these things, but I wanted to offer any relief possible.
Her nephew, my friend, made the call.
It was around midnight when I arrived. He shooed the family from Irene's bedside and urged them to get some much-needed rest.
They had been keeping vigil around the clock and were exhausted and strained from the lengthy ordeal.
He closed the door softly behind them.
I had never met Irene, but I knew the two of them had been exceptionally close. I knew he should be part of this, so I laid hands on him first.
Then he gently held her feet as I held her head in my hands.
Immediately, her labored breathing eased. Though I did not feel anything unusual, my friend said that a great deal of heat began radiating from my body. I sat at her head and felt the energy flow and gain momentum.
I stayed in a quiet state, wishing her what she needed.
Not long after, my mind began to drift.
It was late, not my best working time and I was unsure of myself
in a situation like this. I had never attended a dying person before.
We weren't seeking healing under the circumstances.
I really wasn't sure what purpose could be served.
My mind drifted down and softened its grip on the present.
Oddly, however, it drifted into some negative thinking.
"You were a selfish woman."
"You thought you were better than everyone else..."
I caught myself with a start!
'How can you be critical of this poor dying woman?!
You don't even know her! Stop this right now!'
I was appalled at myself.
I tried to dispel the thoughts, but in a few minutes, they were back.
"You made a lot of money, but you did not share with those less fortunate."
What followed was a long litany of offenses.
No matter how hard I tried, those wicked judgmental thoughts kept rolling in.
I was horrified at my lack of self control!
How had I become so critical?! Still, the thoughts persisted.
After awhile, I gave up trying...it was no use.
I chanced on the idea of letting that noisy self prattle on, off to the side,
while the rest of me tried to focus on healing.
There was a let up eventually, but it was all too brief.
A few minutes later, the voice in my mind wandered once more...
"You were cruel and belittling toward your husband. So demeaning!"
"You ordered him around like a servant. Very regrettable!"
Again, there was no curbing the onslaught of unpleasant thoughts.
These concerned family and friends...
My imagination was far too active. Maybe it was just my way of getting through the long night, but it was too awful for that...
All I could do was to try to ignore it.
There came a pause, thankfully, and I thought I might finally be relieved
of these dark thoughts.
About 10 minutes later, my mind again wandered, but into different territory. The musings took yet another turn when I began to imagine things like Irene being really sorry that she had never had children.
And that she hadn't taken time to enjoy much of life.
This time, I began to feel the emotions...
Her life was centered around travel and her businesses.
Her ego needs. She had been a vain and haughty woman...
I had certainly concocted a life story...all of it fictitious. Pretty fanciful stuff...
I glanced at her nephew. He had long since retreated to a chair in the corner
of the room and was in a deep sleep.
When I came to the end of those thoughts, I began to remonstrate with her.
Again, it just seemed a way to fill the silent time...a natural next step in my imaginary conversation.
I 'told her' that she should make peace with 'that one'.
'You need to sincerely seek forgiveness with ....'
I 'spoke' to her in terms of repentance and reconciliation.
Things I had no right to impinge upon. Such affrontery!
It was dismal behavior on my part.
Yet, if I had caught a subtler element, it all felt strangely true...right.
It just flew in the face of all my assumptions...
the 'facts' I observed...
It was close to 4am. It had been a long night of this.
Things finally went quiet and I wondered if it was time to stop the 'treatment'.
I was in unfamiliar territory, unsure how to proceed.
Then I noticed a strange thing. Her body was quivering under my hands.
Had I gone too long? Surely, I had done everything wrong that night...
Could it get any worse, I wondered? Apparently, it could.
I opened my eyes and looked at Irene. Her whole body was shaking now.
After a bit, the shuddering centered around her chest and stomach.
What was happening?!
Then it struck me!!
Irene appeared to be crying...sobbing, really.
But there were no sounds, no tears.
I remembered with a gasp...she had no fluids.
But she was sobbing alright.
I felt tears welling up in me. I laid my head next to hers and wept with her...
for a lifetime of regrets and sorrows.
I understood this woman somehow. She was a mirror of me in some ways.
I had repenting to do, too. Our souls merged in those tears.
Many tears flowed in that curiously shared reality.
We were finally spent...everything eased and we came to a soft landing.
What a night it had been!
As I shifted in my seat, preparing to end the session, I heard a voice...
It was clear and strong...but it was in my mind!
She picked up where I had left off in my imaginings.
I 'thought back' to her...and she to me.
And then I realized...This was all real...all of it!
We went back and forth for a long time, hashing everything out.
It was a perfectly sensible conversation with a real woman.
A heavy conversation, to be sure, under the circumstances...
Then it was finished... I felt Irene go to sleep.
The energy subsided and I ended the session. It was 6am.
I woke her nephew and gently suggested that he could take over now.
He had been in an unusually deep sleep and felt guilty for not keeping vigil.
I assured him it was perfectly alright.
I slipped out quietly and drove back to Atlanta.
Several days passed and the phone rang again.
My friend called to tell me that Aunt Irene had passed.
But there was more to the story...
About an hour after I left, Aunt Irene emerged from her coma,
sat straight up in bed, unaided, and began to speak.
All the relatives rushed into her room, excitedly.
What followed was more than any of us had bargained for!
Aunt Irene began to speak to individual after individual in the room,
asking their forgiveness, apologizing to each in detail, making peace,
extending love, clearing her soul.
But the astonished family members who witnessed this said that Aunt Irene
was speaking to people on BOTH sides of the grave.
They were intermingled with one another around her bed.
She spoke to each one as if they were as real and alive as those present
in the flesh.
This went on for 3 days and nights...a lifetime of making things right.
When Irene finished, she laid back in complete peace and passed out
of her body easily and without pain.
I asked my friend to tell me everything about her...
It confirmed all of the things that had passed through my mind.
Everything was more accurate than I could have imagined.
On a private level, the mirror was precise in essence, as well.
Medicine for my soul, indeed...applied while I could still make amends.
What struck me about this experience was the reality of what was going on
in my mind...and how I had attempted to dismiss the thoughts as my own,
judging myself, trying to stem the flow.
This experience delivered me to the next stage of the journey.
The discourse between souls is ongoing and quite real.
The mirror aspect amazed me and showed me the precision that underlies these learning experiences.
It gave me a much needed wake-up call.
I was afforded a glimpse of the end-of-life experience.
To have been privileged to see how much soul-work is still required
at the conclusion of earthly life changed me profoundly.
There is a great deal...
It makes one see that every act is accounted for...each act matters more
than we think...especially in regards to our fellow humans.
Her nephew later confided that he was the only relative that she ever had anything to do with. That was due entirely to his efforts.
He knew she was lonely and estranged. He was just a teenager when he began to bombard her with kindness and his special brand of good will.
When she finally opened her heart a little, they became fast friends,
spending nearly every Friday night together over pizza and beer
all through his high school and college years.
They remained close to the end of her life...a special kind of love.