Now that the weather had started to warm, I began thinking I should do something with Billy's remains. His ashes had been sitting in a rosewood box by my fireplace for almost three months.
When Billy was alive, he always said he wanted to be cremated and scattered in the sea. I suddenly had the impulse to take his ashes to the bay across the street from my house so they would be close by.
I put on white clothes like they do in Eastern funeral rituals. After I poured Billy's remains from the box into a red silk embroidered purse, I sifted through the light gray speckled ashes with my fingers. Billy-dust. There were small, hard white chunks in it, probably bone, and a large piece of metal that looked like part of a dental bridge. I slipped on a jacket and went to the bay. The sky was intensely blue and cloudless, and the wind was blowing in the right direction, out to sea.
When I put my hand into the ashes, a piece of sky got brighter, and I heard Billy's voice.
It's too cold for me, honey.
"What?" I asked.
It's too cold. The water's too cold.
I stood there, not sure what to do. "You know, you could have told me that before I came down here."
Tell you what. Just sprinkle a little bit so you can feel like I'm here.
As I threw a handful of his ashes into the sea, Billy said:
The world is your oyster
The world is your oyster
You are the pearl
And the oyster
I had no idea what that meant, but it made me feel luminous.
When I returned to my house, I could still feel Billy around, so I sat down at my computer.
Thanks for sprinkling some of my ashes in the bay this morning. I feel better. I really do, though, because you did it with so much love.
When I was alive I used to say my life ended the day you were born, and I'm sorry for that now. It's just that I was always the bad one and you were the good one. And Daddy loved you so much! It was one thing if Mommy loved you more than me, but not Daddy, too. The family drama is the first one, the primary one, and it has a lot of oomph. My envying you was a major factor in that drama.
On earth there's a lot of who's-better-than-who-type issues and that causes a lot of suffering. It's a game devised by the forces of Maya, or illusion, to make people unhappy. That's one of the purposes of illusion: human misery.
But the way I see it from this side of things, every soul is unique in very beautiful ways. Some are just farther along the path of development than others, and that's okay.
Now that I'm dead, I know it was no fun being the good one, always having to clean up the family mess — and we were messy, that's for sure. And I was the one who got all the attention, wasn't I? It was always all about me. What a revelation that was!
But you always loved me anyway, didn't you? Took your first steps to me, wrote little rhymes for me, looked up to me and out for me like I was your own personal James Dean. And what did I do? I pretty much ignored you. Well, that's over now. I'm making up for lost time.
The blessing I gave you today? It's more than some reward for what you did for me. It's a thing of the spirit. Infusing your life with it is the outcome of this moment and all it contains.
I can see you sitting at your computer right now, crying. You're crying because of how it ended between us. I struggled with my addiction for almost two years after the rescue mission; then I died. You rescued me, but couldn't really rescue me. It was written. Those last few months before my death, you told me to stay away and leave you alone. I was a drowning man, Annie, taking you with me.
I don't care much about memories anymore, but when I see you sitting there, crying, I want you to know there are memories much bigger than the fights you and I had at the end, down there on that very temporary planet. Memories like getting on that plane from Margarita with my new sidekick Guru Guy, crashing in a motel room in Miami, then waking up from my intoxicated sleep and seeing you standing over me like a Madonna. I had been away such a long time and I was so happy to see my baby sister, caring for me, saving me, getting me ready for the hospital, doing whatever it took to keep me from dying in hell.
So now you're crying at your computer, wondering if I forgive you.
Maybe the real question to ask yourself is, do you forgive me?
And really, darling, there is no one to forgive, because we signed up to do this dance together before we were born. We weren't acting out some type of I-did-something-wrong-to-you-in-another-life-and-I'm-paying-for-it-now kind of thing. It doesn't really work like that. That concept of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth karmic equalizing of the score isn't the real deal, at least not where I am.
It's more a kind of experiment chosen for soul-type reasons that humans have an almost impossible time understanding. And not understanding is an important part of the experiment. If people knew the workings of the experiment, it would lose some of its punch, and that losing of punch, well, that's a little bit of what enlightenment is all about.
*subtitles by InnerSelf
©2013 by Annie Kagan. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hampton Roads Publishing. www.redwheelweiser.com
This article was excerpted with permission from the book:
The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There's Life After Death
by Annie Kagan.
Annie Kagan is not a medium or a psychic, she did not die and come back to life; in fact, when she was awakened by her deceased brother, she thought perhaps she had gone a little crazy. Annie shares the extraordinary story of her after-death communications (ADC) with her brother Billy, who began speaking to her just weeks after his unexpected death. Billy's vivid, real-time account of his on-going journey through the mysteries of death will change the way you think about life, death and your place in the Universe.
Annie Kagan is a singer/songwriter who had a chiropractic practice in Manhattan for many years. She gave up her medical practice in search of serenity in a small, secluded house by the bay, returned to songwriting and began collaborating with award winning producer Brian Keane. For more information visit www.anniekagan.com.