Sometimes we wonder how we are going to survive the seemingly awful circumstances that appear in our lives. Sometimes, we may even wonder if we want to survive the nightmare at all. As much as my husband's dementia was our worst nightmare, I have grown to see that awful time in our lives as an awesome gift.
One day, my husband, Aaron, saw a bright flash and fell backwards, as if someone had pushed him. After that episode, his falling and disturbed orientation became common. Aaron had witnessed his grandmother's dementia, and he lived with a lifelong fear of experiencing what she had gone through.
"No! . . . I'm afraid to die!"
Aaron did not believe in an afterlife. Aaron was a rational intellectual: he had a scientific mindset and mocked the validity of intuition. He didn't like my suggestion that he was intuitive, although when he first saw me, he announced to friends, "I'm going to marry that woman!"
Aaron prized his mind above all else. He would exclaim, "When I don't know who you are, shoot me!" However, whenever I asked him if he was ready to die, he protested, "No! . . . I'm afraid to die!" Fear became our constant companion.
For five years Aaron was stuck in his bed, out of his mind. I screamed, "How much longer?" I felt outrage at the injustice, that this cruel disease could rob a brilliant orator and teacher of his dignity and strip me of my serenity. Our savings and retirement funds were wiped out, and our beautiful home was in foreclosure. I was feeling afraid, trapped, angry, and helpless.
"Receive the gift of this journey."
I became an escape artist: I kept very busy working, and that allowed me to stay away from home and avoid facing Aaron and the illness. Worried about my emotional state, friends in Israel invited me for respite. There, I met Yoram, who told me he was "sent" to me with a message: "Go home and give your husband unconditional love; stay close to him and receive the gift of this journey. Receive the gift. . . ."
This seemed an unlikely solution, but in desperation, I was willing to try anything.
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When I returned home, I evaluated the gifts and tools I had been gathering in Israel while I was away. I had been learning how to communicate spirit to spirit, a technique for "tuning in" called "kything," a process by which two people can wordlessly communicate by using their intuition.
"You found the pathway. Keep listening. . . ."
One day, as I was meditating in Aaron's room, I heard his voice in my intuitive mind: "I am not my body. I am not my mind. I am not my brain. Now I know that. Everything is energy . . . and energy doesn't die. When my body dies, there is still life."
I felt a rush of adrenaline throughout my body. What was I hearing? Was that really Aaron communicating with me, spirit to spirit? I was startled and incredulous, but decided to continue to listen. He added, "Keep listening . . . finally you found the pathway to hear my voice. Just keep listening. . . ."
I broke out in a cold sweat. I realized that it was likely I was "just imagining things." and that what I might be "imagining" could as easily be a real communication from Aaron as my own wishful thinking.
In any event, I was getting some messages. I decided to keep listening. I continued to kythe with him. As my intuitive communications with Aaron increased, he became more awake and alert. When he became more lucid for extended periods of time, we even had voice-to-voice conversations, in addition to our intuitive exchanges.
His nurses were shocked by the transformation in his energy and alertness. Yes, he would still drift off to other distant planets and dimensions, and I often wondered where he was. But in our stillness, he would communicate about jumping into other dimensions of consciousness. Where once there was fear, now there was wonder. Where once there was anger and rage, there was now surrender and serenity.
One day, shortly before his death, he intuitively told me that he no longer feared death. He described a "knowing" that there is no death. He told me he couldn't imagine leaving me; his body would die, but he would always be with me.
"Not afraid of death?"
On April 1, 2005, Aaron's nurse called me: "He refuses to eat! What should I do?" I knew . . . Aaron was ready. When I reached Aaron's bedside, I noticed that he was alert, almost defiant, and had clear eyes, not foggy.
I asked, "Are you ready to go, my darling?"
He stared at me knowingly, "Yes . . . I am."
I asked, "Not afraid of death?"
He answered resolutely, "No, I'm ready."
I instructed the nurse to stop offering food or fluids; explaining he was ready to let go. The releasing process took one week. On his "Continuation Day," I held his hand and kept my breathing synchronized to his as he neared his final release. While he had still been alert earlier in the day, I asked for a kiss, which he gave me as he whispered, "Goodbye, sweetness . . ." That evening, with his last breath, I felt as if we were giving birth!
The Awesome Blessing Underneath The Awful Gift
For me, that awful illness became one of my most awesome gifts and blessings. I shared the very substance of life with my husband. During that process, I learned that life is more than we could possibly imagine: that we are not our bodies or our brains and that the illness of dementia is an opportunity to witness the transition process in slow motion, to experience the many dimensions of consciousness available to human beings when we allow for stillness and simply listen.
So the next time an "awful gift" comes your way, I hope you can find the awesome blessing underneath it.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hierophant Publishing.
Dist. by Red Wheel/Weiser, Inc. www.redwheelweiser.com
©2012 by Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff, et al. All Rights Reserved.
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by Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff, and many more.
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About the Author of this article
Sheila Pearl, MSW, is a life coach and is an example of re-inventing oneself and navigating transitions. Former opera singer and classroom English teacher, now author, trainer and life coach, Sheila is in the midst of her eighth career as as keynote speaker and seminar leader in the New York metropolitan area. She is a retired cantor and educator, having served New York/New Jersey congregations as spiritual leader for over two decades. She has been a family and marriage counselor for over 40 years, specializing in intimate relationships and life transitions. Her next book, Looking for the Gift: Conscious Conversations on Facing Adversity is scheduled to be released in 2012. Visit her blogs at AgelessPearlsOfWisdom.com and LifeCoachSheila.com and her website at SheilaPearl.com.