My father died suddenly and without warning. On the morning of his death, I was expecting him to walk through our front door at any moment. My bags were packed and waiting on the couch to travel with him to Boston for an A.R.E. program. As I played on the floor with my children, I remember feeling surprised that he and my mother were a bit late. Instead my mother opened our door alone, her eyes like I’d never seen them. They’d been walking up our driveway, he stopped and bent over; he stood and took a step. He started to fall and my mother caught him. His eyes were already closed. He was already gone.
I was raised on the Edgar Cayce readings. My parents modeled their teachings; their principles shape my way of seeing and moving through the world. Although the readings do offer solace and guidance for dealing with loss, I cannot begin to offer any conclusions. This beloved person who was a most critical weight-bearing beam holding together the structure of my life disappeared without a moment to say goodbye. I am still early along in my journey of loss. Most days my desperation to see him, to hear his voice, to hold his hand is still too raw to sum up. But I find myself turning to the readings now more than ever to hold me as I move moment by moment through each day.
Even on that first morning, I never felt like he’d disappeared completely. My trust in the life of the soul held. He had left his body and that was all. The readings talk about life and life after death as two sides to one coin. There is a wholeness and fluidity to the soul’s life as it moves from one life to another. It’s as though a curtain opens to another side, a fullness revealed that remains veiled while we are in our bodies. “There is no death when the entity, or the real self is considered;…only a change in consciousness of being able to make application in the new sphere of activity in which the entity finds self.” [2147-1]
It was painful to remember the days before his death, when we’d talked about nothing important. Watching him swat at carpenter bees on my deck while I fixed dinner, smiling at him while he and my son played a pirate game in our hammock, talking about a near miss the car in front us had had with a construction sign on the road while we drove to my sister’s house. Why was I so oblivious to these precious last hours together?
It calms me to think about what the readings say about the moment of death- that it is anticipated on the other side the way a birth is looked forward to in the physical. Loving beings gatherings around and waiting with such joy and excitement to welcome a precious one. My father’s death did not catch them off guard. They were prepared and ready. I imagine his parents and brother and others who adored him as we do waiting right there to hold him. Also, there is a gentleness to the waking up of the soul on the other side, much like a baby waking up to and getting used to its physical body and surroundings here. “Passing from the material consciousness to a spiritual or cosmic, or outer consciousness, often an entity or being does not become conscious of what [is] about it; much in the same manner as an entity born into the material plane only becomes conscious gradually…” [5749-3]. I imagine lots of deep resting time, quiet rocking, sweet lullabies, softened light. I remember with my own tiny babies how sometimes they seemed so bewildered by where they were, uncomfortable in their bodies, and how my husband and I were right there during those moments to hold and comfort them in every way we knew how. I imagine the same for my father now.
The readings emphasize the benefit of holding death before you. My sense of myself now is completely different since my father’s death. While he was alive, I would go weeks or months focusing on what was right before me- anxiety over one of my children’s fever, satisfaction about a new soup I’d made, stress over a work project, looking forward to a date night with my husband or a visit from my parents. These emotions and thoughts could fill my days. Now it’s as if there’s a big, gaping ledge to that life. Without warning my mind will drop all of those concerns and I’m teetering on a great void of space. Looking out over the truth that my father is gone, my own death and the death of those I love is coming. This body will be a corpse before too long. My life seems so much smaller and more purposeful in the face of that void.
To stay grounded in the presence of this vacuous space, I find myself coming back to my own soul’s journey. One of the excerpts from the readings I heard my father say most regularly was a description of Christ consciousness as, “the awareness within each soul imprinted in pattern on the mind waiting to be awakened by the will of our oneness with God.”
We are each on our homeward path back to oneness, whatever that means to us. This is the journey of the soul. When we are in our bodies, we depend on our will to keep us on this path. Our will is our ability to choose to follow laws of spirit moment by moment as we move through each day. Choosing forgiveness when I am sure I’ve been treated unfairly. Choosing patience when I can easily tear my hair out. Choosing gentleness when I am furious. Choosing to listen when I am afraid I won’t get a chance to speak. Choosing joy when I want to curl up in my sadness. Choosing to love when I just want to push away. Before my father’s death, that process felt gentler, more like play, something I could pick up or put down. Now I am holding onto as a grounding guide, both a weighty duty and sparkling opportunity. “Little by little does one come to the understanding of the purpose for which they came into the earth. [Rising to meet that] purpose is the making of the individual…, and as souls seeking the Father, in that companionship that one may have through communion with Him- and communion with Him means doing, not shutting self away from your brother, from your neighbor, even from yourself- rather applying self to duties material, mental and spiritual, as is known” [99-8].
I am a natural worrier, anxious and sensitive. It is easy for me to ride the wave of my emotions and get carried away. My father helped me so much in this respect. He always looked for opportunities to talk with me. He’d hear my worries and make sure I knew that he knew I fine just the way I was and to remind me of my strength and solidness, to quietly bring me back to my soul’s purpose. To bring me back to the truth that I can best put my worried mind at ease by bringing my best and highest self to others, to not sweat the small stuff and let it go. He would often take my hand and say, “You know it’s all going to work out, darling.” And I always believed him. Each time he said it, it was just what I needed to hear. So I’m listening for his voice now, in my heart, in the silence, in my dreams. I know he’d tell it’s ok for things to feel as hard as they do right now. I can find my highest and best self even in the midst of this.
Corrine will do an event at East West Bookshop on Oct 20: LESSONS FROM THE EDGAR CAYCE READINGS, BUDDHISM AND THE LATEST BRAIN RESEARCH - WITH CORINNE CAYCE