Lessons after death

A few nights ago at 11pm I had a sudden urge that I had to listen to the CD recording from the only reading I’ve had from a medium since my mom passed.  It’s been over a year since I have heard the chilling and comforting messages my mom brought from the other side.  Before I start into that, let’s rewind a bit shall we?

After my mom passed away in early 2009, my heart ached.  It still does.  It was unexpected when it happened so along with the shock there was a lot of grieving.  As my and my sisters continued to have more babies, get married and all of us make more life changes there was also so many times a tangible feeling of deep loss at those events, not being able to see my mom there with us.  We’ve each felt her around at different times, we’ve all gotten signs, had dreams.  But there is nothing like the direct hug, conversation or looking into her beautiful loving eyes.

I’ve always been skeptical of people who say they can communicate with spirit.  I still am actually.  But I’ve know too many times where I know it to be true that I don’t doubt it’s possible.  I know in fact that my mother has came to me in dreams, I’ve been given answers to deep questions I’ve prayed about.  I pray, ask for help my angels, talk to my spirit guide and talk to my mom often as if she’s hear with me.

Back to the CD, in listening to this call the medium (Dwanna Paul) talked about things very clearly that had just happened that day.  She talked about what my husband had just said to me right before the call, passed along my mom’s motherly guidance based on what my sister and I had talked about the night before.  When I asked about messages for my brothers or dad the next 3 things she talked about in a row were for 1 brother, then something exactly regarding my younger brother, then my dad.   It was unbelievable.  I loved too that during the call there were a couple things I didn’t understand.  One for instance was she said my mom was showing her a strand of pearls. That didn’t mean much to me during the call. So she told me to just keep it in mind and I’ll know what it’s supposed to mean.   The next morning I was sitting having coffee and I looked down and my mug and gasped…   the mug was from my honeymoon cruise.  The cruise I was ready to board when I found out my mom had passed away; the Norwegian Pearl. Along the side of the ship was a strand of pearls.   The same ship that we re-took our cancelled honeymoon on 10 months later.   The same ship that randomly at 3am I went out to our balcony of sobbled, deep cathartic cries of missing my mom and talking with her about my life. My missing her, but being really happy otherwise. Talking to her about all the random things I would have when she was alive.   Then I remembered that right before the call the night before with Dwanna, I asked my mom to bring up that conversation as a sign.  Wow.  She sure did.

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Months later I noticed a song on the radio all the time.  When I’d walk into the garage that song was on, I got goosebumps from it.  I’d heard it in the car, on the radio. Each time I’d have a physical reaction of knowing to it.   One night I was reading a book by Allison DuBois (the medium that the show Medium is based on) and she talked about her dad that had passed on and how he’d communicate with her through song.  That next morning I went to a networking meeting and on my way home I turned on the radio and that same song was on.  This time, for the first time I listened to the words.  I was stunned.  Here are some of the lyrics,

“Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw-huh,..
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,”       Read more: Pearl Jam – Just Breathe Lyrics | MetroLyrics

The last line of the song is, “meet you on the other side”.

I just sat and cried.   Then I got home and googled it.  I studied the words and listened to it a million times.  It was so healing.  Then I really payed attention to who it was by… Pearl Jam…   yep another pearl reference..    mom, you are amazing!!!!  Looking back the song was released the year she passed away, yet I never was aware of it until all the above happened in 2011.  Really cool.

I’m not looking for anyone to agree with me.  I don’t care.  We all have our comfort levels, what we know deep down.  What we’re scared to know because of fear.  Fear of the unknown and also fear that religion has pushed on us (Highly recommend the book “Messages from Spirit” by Colette Baron-Reid where she really gets into when the Church transitioned from working with spirit mediums to instilling fear about them because they conflicted with the church’s agenda… fascinating read).   For me I have found peace as a Christian but I also believe in an afterlife, the beauty that can come from communicating, trusting, learning and also working with Angels, and more.  I also have found peace in parts of messages from other religions and spiritual teachings as well. But that’s another story…

I recently read a comment from a friend that she had shared on another’s page.  She was talking about the frustration she was having because her mom is in a dark place, not able to see her light, her gifts.  She’s depressed, hoarding and near death.  It’s SO heartbreaking when we want to help someone and they won’t accept our help.  I’ve dealt enough with people with addictions and depression also to know this to be true.  Its the deepest kind of frustrating, and especially when the person passes on it leaves us with a pile of what ifs.  What if I could have spoke up more, earlier.  What if I was too rough.   What if I wouldn’t have judged but instead would have just loved?  What if I wouldn’t have just loved them but instead would have helped them get help….   it is a loop of unrest, and questions that can’t always be answered.

I’ve settled on a deep comfort of believing that no one passes before their time. We all have a time that we’ve planned out before we even got here in this body.  It’s all divinely perfect.  From a human level we often don’t get it, but from a spiritual and soulful level, it’s perfect.   There is a peacefulness that can come from this.  It’s allowed me to go from anger to gratitude and surrender.

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When we’ve lost someone we love, our biggest shift can come when we stop focusing so much on their passing and instead start to focus on the gratitude for their time in our lives.  Our experiences shared, lessons taught and learned.  The love we gave and received.   When we can pull ourselves from the anger of not having longer and instead sit in gratitude for having what we did.

Today I sit in gratitude for those who are in my life.  I savor the memories of those who have passed.  I work to live my life in a way that others will someday look back at their times with me and feel love.

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I give you permission to say, “NO”

I give you permission to say no.

I grew up with a superhero a superhero momma. She gave us haircuts or perms more than once the night before school pictures when we begged. Sewed our Halloween costumes, patched our clothing, even hand sewed on hundreds of beads onto my prom dress for me and made a purse to go with it my senior year. She showed up to every sporting event for all 5 of us kids, and even let me move back in with my daughter while I was going through a divorce years ago.  I learned how to be a devoted mother from my mom, I learned how to create a calming, love filled home from her. My biggest lesson however came from my mother as we picked up the pieces after she passed away.

Somewhere in her my mom associated her value with the sacrifices she made for all of us around her.  I watched my mom put each of our needs above her own.  I watched her take on caring part time for my nephew, watching my daughter when she could, I watched my brother come home with a dog (even after my mom told him he couldn’t have a dog in their home) but she gave in and let him keep it because she couldn’t say no. I later watched this dog cause thousands of dollars in damage in her gorgeous, beautifully decorated home.  Thousands of dollars in rugs with holes in them, a solid wood, carved dining room table with the legs chewed around the bottom, she bought a steam cleaner so she could keep up with the pee on the carpets, on and on. Plus then my parents bought the food for the dog, cared for the dog and my mom pretty much eventually stopped going out of town because she knew my brother wouldn’t care for the dog and it would cause more damage.  I watched my adult brother still living at home as if he was a child, my mom still giving him spending money and letting him pursue his dream of being the next Eminem rapper with God knows who coming in and out of their basement recording on the sound system set up down there. All hours of the night these creepy people would be coming in and out with names like Shadow and stuff. Can we just all agree that this in INSANE!!!!  Somewhere along the line I watched my mom blur the line in being loving and caring with enabling and not setting healthy boundaries.

When I was an adult and was back living in Minnesota again I thought it was great that she was going through a wine and cheese phase. . We’d watch movies together and have different wines and cheese and crackers or breads with different dipping oils. It was so much fun.  Pretty much any movie that included a Christmas scene or a house with fun decorating was always our favorites to watch.  What evolved in the years following however none of us saw coming.

Rewind to 2002 My mom was the peak of health, obsessed with vitamins and cooking healthy. She looked great, my sister and I had just had our first babies and our family was at such a fun place.  I was back down in Dallas from 2003-2004 and when I moved back in 2004 things were starting to be a little different. My mom had a knee replacement and was working on recovering from that, at the same time my youngest sister moved out and started college.  My brother was facing ongoing legal battles still haunting him from his wild teenage years and me back home with my daughter going through a divorce.  And then menopause hit. It was a perfect storm.  Had any one of these hit I am confident she would have made it through relatively unscathed.  However that’s not how it happened; the drinking increased secretly, (we didn’t find this out until later, I have since found out that increased drinking is very common during the menopause years) she became more depressed and from that showed even fewer healthy boundaries. She was so busy trying to make sure we were all okay and helping us fix our problems that she didn’t take the time out for herself.  What she needed then was to start saying no. No to the dog, no to spending money as an escape, no to all the relatives, no to us kids, no to trying to solve my brothers legal issues, no to paying for those legal issues, no to watching our kids so much… on and on.  I literally watched my mother’s inability to set healthy boundaries and her selfless act of helping others around no matter what it cost her ultimately kill her.  Her actual cause of death was pancreatitis but I know deep down that the world sucked her dry.

Oh how I wish I could go back and give her permission to be the bad guy a little bit. Tell people occasionally to fix their own shit, find that dog a new home so she could go take a vacation in peace. In fact tell my brother to go find a new home so she could regain her comfort in her own home. Tell all of us that she is not a daycare center.  I would make sure she knew that it’s okay to say no to organizing another event and she needed no other reason then because she needed a night to curl up and watch a much needed movie with my dad.  Sometimes you have to put yourself first; your life can literally depend on it. I wish I could tell my mom that she wouldn’t be letting us down if we had a small Christmas without all the gifts, gourmet meals and amazing décor.  I wish I could tell her that we would still know that she loved us even if she would have just said what she felt instead of feeling guilty that she might be a bad person because she felt resentful about trying to hold the world together for all of us. I wish I could just hug her and tell her that we love her for her and not for the things she did for us.

I’ve really been working on having healthier boundaries myself since she passed.  And just as important; giving myself permission to not have to justify my every moment or decision when setting those boundaries, speak my mind more when I am feeling resentful and explain more why some things I allowed to go for years no longer work for me.  Example: “I wish I could watch my sweet nephews every day of the week but I can’t do that and build my career. Dad, I wish I could continue helping you with your company for virtually free but it no longer works for me. I wish I could give away my artwork anytime someone says they like it but that won’t pay my bills. Sorry brother but until you help yourself by doing steps 1,2 and 3 don’t call me again. Once you do those things I will happily help you with step 4 but I don’t want to have one more phone conversation with you telling me I need to fix your problems and hear about your life falling apart when you haven’t even completed the first fucking step !!!!”

I have learned that there needs to be an equal exchange of energy in any transaction otherwise one person won’t feel satisfied.  How often have you helped someone with something that really put you out.  Only to later realize they really didn’t even appreciate it?  I did this with my ex; I would try to fix his problems, invest a ton of my energy, time and problem solving only to later be bitter that he wasn’t grateful. Finally one day I realized that he hadn’t even asked or wanted my help.  Light bulb moment.

So now I give you permission also to say no, speak your mind and tune into your inner knowing. You can be loving, classy, kind and giving and still have effective boundaries.  You are not bad if you decide you don’t want the neighbors kids showing up at your home at all hours looking for entertainment. You are not a bad person if you say no to someone who wants to borrow money and you know in your gut that the money will not help them or it will cause you to not to be able to cover your own bills. I give you permission to just say, “Sorry, that doesn’t work for me”.  It may help build the no muscle to start with, “sorry I will have to get back to you after I check my schedule.” This will buy you time to really decide if something is a good decision instead of saying yes immediately and then later regretting it. Or for example say, “that day doesn’t work for me to watch your dog but if you are able to do help me fix my garage door  tomorrow that will free me up to be able to come over and pet sit for you this weekend when you’re out of town.”… you get the idea.  It’s sometimes helpful to think about if you’re going to feel resentful after doing whatever it is that has been asked of you, if you are then maybe you’re better off saying no or changing the terms of the agreement.   I’d love to hear any of your stories about how you’ve learned to improve in these areas or times you wish you had.

One of my favorite memories of my mom is her last Christmas just 3 weeks before she passed, my husband, daughter, my mom, a few others and I were all quietly chattering and taking in the peacefulness on a late stroll down her dark, quiet dead end street on the Christmas night of 2008. The snow peacefully falling on us, we were all together and we were all so happy and content.  It was simple, free and fair for all us.  It was also a moment that she didn’t have to sacrifice her own happiness or feel guilty in order for us to be happy.

Added 7/24/2012:  I feel the need to add one more thing to this post.  The reason I’ve chosen to share this incredibly personal and private story is because I know that it was something we as a family never talked about while it was happening.  It was one of those things that was off-limits. There is shame so often felt when we are going through a rough patch.  But if this could happen to my happy, articulate, loving family then it could happen to any family.  And even more importantly if my mom could go through this so could anyone. She was (is) a shining soul, loving and supportive person.  She radiated love and light to all around her. I share my perspective of her journey with a goal of helping other fabulously loving women see another side, another voice outside of their own homes and give them a reason to value themselves and their space, their dreams and cherish them.

girl doing cheers at restaurant