Remembering: Goodbye with Love (a break from my regular blog)

(1/13/2019): The memories came flooding back to me today…holding my father’s hand, still warm with a gentle pulse, as I lay my head down at his side on the hospital bed inside the living room. He was finally sleeping after the on-and-off pain he endured due to the melanoma that spread blisters up his legs and the immense pain in his legs due to some ailment doctors could never pinpoint.

My father and I had been through so much in those last years of his life—trying to stitch together the pain of earlier years into peace and love. And here he was, in early February, this month two years ago, fighting for his life that was preparing to go. He knew. I knew it. Or at least his spirit knew it was time, for months earlier, when he lay in the hospital room, the day the doctors diagnosed him with melanoma, he came to me in my dream, and let me know it was time to go.

Today, I relived those last days, last minutes, as if yesterday. He lay in the bed, me listening to every breath, knowing each could be the last. I listened with my heart, the way we listen when we come from that unconditional love that knows how to be present and treasure this present that is still with us for a brief time.

That night, after laying my head next to my father in that eternal stillness, I went to bed. In the quiet of the night, and throughout my sleep, I could feel my father next to me. Actually, I felt as if I had become him, lying there, between the bars of the hospital bed, fragile, clinging to life. There was no separation. And the next morning, when I woke up, I ran to my father’s bed, making sure he was still there.

My father lasted a few more days, long enough to live his 79th birthday on February 20 and to see my cousin, Rogelio, who visited him from Argentina and whom he had awaited for eagerly before departing this world. But that memory remains with me so strong today—of laying my head next to his, and feeling his journey so deeply as if it were mine. And then finally being there with him until the very last breath. 

I didn’t cry that day he left. I couldn’t. 84e0990e9ed9a00cb08dc66604c77fdfA part of me had left as well, so I didn’t feel him gone the way we do when we finally let go and step back into our ordinary lives. There was nothing ordinary about being with someone so dear to me until the very end. There was a tenderness and an appreciation of life that was so profound that I didn’t want to ever let that go.

Yesterday my boyfriend, his sister, and I made a dinner to honor their mother who left this world this past May. We placed two bouquets of white flowers on the table with a place for her to eat as well. She was a beautiful woman, one I felt so honored to have known during the months before her passing. As I felt those last days with my father, laying there next to him toward the very end, I recalled how my boyfriend’s sister lay next to her mother to keep her company in the end.

When we feel the ones we love so close that we can hear their every breath, knowing it could be the last, how do we ever forget that? How do we ever grieve the preciousness of another who has now left for another world?

Today, I feel the grief that lives inside all that love and loss. And I pray for those who have lost someone so dear, as my boyfriend and his sister did more recently, to be able to take that great love and live again as one more angel flies in the sky above us. May we all cry that grief of beauty that has left us, and, in return, bring a bit more heart into this world.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of returning home to the earth inside and all around us. It’s now available in Spanish as Niña Duende: Un Viaje del Espiritu, that’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore or directly from me (for those outside of the U.S.) as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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84. The Way of the Warrior

BLOG 84—(present reflections tied to January 2001 journal entries about my healing journey)—The fire burned full and dark that night on the beach when my friend and I watched a car go up in flames under winter’s full moon. Unknowingly, we watched a man take his life, and weeks later, under the full moon, I gathered with shamans to help his lost soul cross to the other side.

Sometimes, in all the challenges we face, we find life unbearable, and like this man, think of ending it all. Yet, once gone, our soul somehow knows there was and is another way…another way beyond the pain and limitations of our earthly experience. We realize that  we can choose the way of the warrior—the way that I had the privilege of seeing with my boyfriend’s mother, before she, herself, made that journey in peace beyond this physical world several weeks ago.

Back in the winter of 2001, when I had witnessed the sad departure of this man on the beach, I wrote about being a warrior. And now, in retrospect, I see the gift in what I wrote then (and maybe found somewhere written, and copied)—the same gift my boyfriend’s mother carried before leaving this physical realm.

“The Way of the Warrior is to know the darkness within ourselves, in others, and in the world, yet to choose to have full heart, to be irrational in the face of it all, and in being irrational, to wear lightness and joy like an outfit, like a mask, that not only covers our face, but is worn by us so every molecular level of ourselves is infused with this outfit. With this choice, we wear our destiny before it wears us.

“It is not why we are confused when a great man falls or acts otherwise, because we have come to believe that this mask is them, when truly the mask they have shape shifted into by choice, can also, by choice, be shape shifted out of. It is their occupation on earth to be of light, of full heart, while they carry within them, more than anyone 75140d825752a853f25863ba0a2d857felse, the truth of their deepest darkness. Their act is a conscious one and requires constant vigilance and discipline. Every time these people carry themselves in this full-hearted manner, it is an exception to the rule and that is why people are drawn to them…we must ask ourselves to be exceptional in this manner and not depend on the hard work of others to give us hope in our own exceptionalism.”

As I read now what I wrote then, I feel honored to have known my boyfriend’s mother for a brief time before she left. She had plenty of hardships in her life–ones that would easily embitter anyone–but she chose to live with kind, giving heart, and to bless those around her with wisdom and love despite it all. She left behind the exceptional legacy of a warrior for her children and others to learn from and follow.

During these times when it’s easy to surrender to cynicism, and choose anger over love, depression and self-pity over the unreasonable hope of the warrior, it is more important than ever to reach into our souls and be warriors of love…to learn from people like my boyfriend’s mother to never give up…to fight for life, for what matters!

This weekend, in Taos, New Mexico, on Saturday, June 23, at 5:30p.m. at SOMOS, I’ll be sharing that spirit of aliveness and celebration of life to Storytelling with my novel, Child of Duende, with Flamenco guitarist and singer Ronaldo Baca and Flamenco dancer Catalina Rio-Fernandez. Come join us and share the news!

Child of Duende TAOS FINAL poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

67. From Poetry to Manic Mowing

Recent photos by Emily Kefferstan, 2017

BLOG 67: June, 2000—They met every Monday morning under the shade tree at Skimmilk Farm, Jean’s summer farmhouse in rustic New Hampshire. Dusting the old house, keeping it clean from summers of fun, was less important than Monday mornings when this serious group of poets gathered to muse over mist-covered mornings, cats, Celtic Goddesses, Vulvas, and many more themes that released their aroma into the shade tree.

When Emily, Jean’s 13-year-old granddaughter, didn’t join the poets, I was the youngest there by far, and the only one with a novel. I shared my chapters of my manuscript, Child of Duende, inviting this group, which had met like this for 25 years, to travel with me to Southern Spain, to the coast, where my character Duende was born and raised. For some of the poets, my novel brought them back to earlier days when a Boston Columnist used to write about Duende, this word that the great Spanish Poet Federico Garcia Lorca had described as a magical spirit of the earth from which all life and art arises.

Poetry Mondays were a long-held sacred ritual for Jean and her poets. But the weekends offered a different kind of attraction of sorts. That was when Jean’s other family members, like her simage2on, John, and daughter-in-law, Cassie—Emily’s divorced parents—arrived at the farm to celebrate farm life and help Jean maintain the place. That’s when they’d drive the lawn mower tractor over acres of land; clean out the pool; weed the expansive garden; and just take care of anything that needed caring for.  And after all the chores—or during that time—we’d all take a dip in the pool, relax, and then make elaborate meals from all the fresh vegetables of the garden.

On one of those summer weekends—which I will never forget—Cassie decided to get on the tractor and mow as much lawn as she could as quickly as she could. She could get rather manic, to say the least, and this day was no exception. She got on that tractor right by the nice, clean pool, started it in high gear, and didn’t seem to figure out how to slow it down. Cassie smiled broadly while holding onto the tractor with all of her might as it ran circles around the pool, cutting every blade of grass in sight, tossing them all into the pool. Soon, the pool was filled with fresh green blades, with me yelling for Cassie to stop, and her oblivious of what was happening around her as she continued riding circles on her new toy.

While that was a humorous moment with Cassie, there were others that were harder to bear. Her energy could be extremely invasive and exhausting, and I still remember nights in which I struggled with sleep because of this. She could feel so unsafe to be around, and especially given I was very sensitive to other people’s energies in those days. I was already scared to fall asleep, to drop into frightening dreams—or more clearly nightmares—as I had done nights before, and now there was Cassie to contend with.

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During one of my dreams, in which I allowed myself to sink deeper, I dreamt of my parents. In my dream, my mother kept asking me to sweep things up with the same broom that my father had used to attack me or put me down. It seemed I was asked to be with my father’s abuse while my mother tried to sweep things away, ignoring what was happening in front of her.

When I reflected on my dream, I felt I was being shown a pattern that I had carried within me for a long time—a pattern of accepting abuse, and also cleaning it up and taking care of everyone else but me, just so all could be well. It was as if my weekly energy healing sessions and Cassie’s manic ways had awoken in me an unhealthy dynamic I had grown up with and was ready to release.

My dreams, and at times, frightening evenings, and fun-filled days on the farm, seemed to all blend together to help me see myself, and to offer change—change in my aching hips and pelvis, change in my heart, and change on my soul’s path.

That summer was a summer of extremes—of being with the extremes I carried within me and those I saw around me, and learning to establish new boundaries and ways of caring for myself in loving, healthy ways. I had arrived on the farm ready to heal, ready to truly walk again, and now I was beginning to awaken to the path I would eventually take—the path of a teacher, writer, and healer who would one day help others heal as I had learned to do that summer and beyond.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about nature spirits, Flamenco, and Southern Spain, and returning to a place of renewed hope and joy. It’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

54. I Want to Challenge You

 

Blog 54: June, 1999: I want to challenge you—yes, you, reader of this blog—to ask yourself: “What is my hunger?” Last week, I wrote about hunger, about my hunger of almost 20 years ago, and my current hunger. As I perused my journal last week, as I do every time I write this, I came across a piece of writing on hunger that struck a cord. So, I decided to create Part 2 of last week’s blog. Here it is, beginning with my journal entry from years ago:

“As I write this, I can hear the voices that have challenged my hunger all along,” I wrote in June, 1999. “The voice is that I am alone, that this hunger belongs only to me, and that everyone is quite normal in their view and understanding of the world. This is a strange and pathetic lie that I grew up with, that you many have grown up with: that we have no hunger; that we have no “self” that is incapable of rationalizing the answers to our existence; that we need no answers because we are the pathetic answer that walks this earth pretending to know—pretending to know that we live and die without much more to our existence; pretending that we are not vulnerable, that we do not break, that this world cannot break us and hurt us and teach us to love.”

These words from years ago may seem harsh, yet I grew up in a family where emotions were rarely expressed. My ancestors had fertilized the ground we walked on with potent seeds of stoic strength that they’d grown so they could survive horrid wars, immigration, and challenging life lessons. Yet, this stoicism masked a grief that needed, one day, to be unearthed.

“I intend to speak to those whf77ad40934475fcab37c7a5736a3b646o find my words resonating with them. Otherwise, why read? Art is, after all, this wonderful world in which we can share, express, and crawl out to the edge of a limb and cry out our existence so those who are afraid to climb can see that it is alright, that we were meant to climb, to sing, to explore this world that is only ours right now,” I wrote. “I can’t believe that this hunger is not in every breathing soul that exists—from the Buddha who found peace, to the musician who, with all her might, sings
to us a kind of longing that only a song can sometimes do so well. I have seen hunger in my father’s eyes—in the way he cannot keep still, driving wherever he can to find his hunger sated for brief moments. Or in my mother, in her later years, wanting so much to find warmth in companionship.”

Most recently, my father’s hunger was there until the very end of his life, days before he died, on February 23, 2017. He longed to walk, to try one last time, as his legs gave in below him. He longed to join us for a toast and dinner at the table, to be a part of the life. He longed for peace from pain, for some understanding, it seemed, of what awaited him after life. My family and I all longed to be there with my father, to feel the tenderness of his final weeks that had been absent many years earlier. I longed to be there to help my father transition, to breathe every last breath with him, knowing each one could mark the end.

As I sit now, alone, writing, feeling the reality of all that has passed, and of my father who is no longer here, I wonder about this thing we call life. No rational mind, no preset ideas, no justification for my father’s passing—at 79 years old, and no earlier or later—can change or ease this reality of life and death. Despite all I’ve learned about life, and spirit, and all that passes, I still ask myself, “Why?” “Why does all life leave its form to become something else?” “Why do we, as humans, have to feel loss?” There’s a hunger in that. There’s a grief. There’s a stark reality that life is so immensely precious, and that any denial of our hunger to live this life as fully as we know how, now, and no minute later, would be a lie toward life itself.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of following this hunger home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

51. Riding Off into “Las Pampas”

BLOG 51: June, 1999—“There are so many times you have been with me, and yet I have not seen you. I feel touched, moved, overwhelmed inside this little heart of mine by the guide you have been so long—an angel so present on this earth, so alive within me, so much a part of me,” I wrote from my parent’s home in New Jersey 18 years ago. “I feel like I have been gone so long, wayward in search of myself—a decade of scraping down every wall to discover this beauty beside and inside of me…this stalwart tree, ever-growing slowly, gracefully upward, as I have stretched out, spreading arms that reach out to embrace the sun, eager to get there.”

These words made up a letter addressed to MAGIC itself, and to a dear friend of mine, a past partner. After all, isn’t magic in both—inside ourselves and in relationship?  While today is a different time, and magic may be too general a word to apply to my present moment here with my ailing father—I’ve been reflecting on what it must be like for him to soon embark on what may be a potentially “magical” journey into the afterlife.

My father has always been quite the scientist, carefully reflecting on the reasonable, proven aspects of life. I wonder now, when he’s in tremendous pain, and asks us to help him die, whether he has a sense of where he’s going (if anywhere at all).

Some years back, after he and I had visited my Argentinean cousin, Carmen, who was extremely frail and dying from a brain tumor, he confessed to me, in his apartment living room, that the idea of death really scared him. It was clear then, as now, that he was reflecting on his own death.

Last night, I sat with what it would be like to have no imagined sense (or a very existential one) of what we call the afterlife. I’ve always had a strong feeling of spirit, or what life without a body would be like. If anything, I’ve found it much more natural and real to be with the world of spirit than body. But for my father, who prided himself of being very athletic and intelligent, and having 5d0235715e06de38848b7e112c1f3ec8the independence and strength to control his destiny, death may be a different kind of beast for him to face.

If it’s true what a friend of mine once said—that, after death, people see and experience that which they believed to be true in this lifetime…that our beliefs dictate what’s next…or at least for the first part of our journey—then I wondered what current beliefs were dictating my father’s sense of what awaits him. Is the pain I see him going through, both physical and emotional, a part of his battle between his current beliefs and what is to come? Does it have to be this painful leaving this earthly plane as we prepare to shift as the caterpillar does into the butterfly?

As I sat at my father’s bedside one evening, I asked his mother’s spirit, our shared ancestors, and angelic beings to visit him in his sleep to give him a glimpse of what’s possibly next. Then, a beautiful imagine came to mind. My father has always been an adventurous soul, I thought, and he had always said he would have been a “gaucho”, an Argentinean cowboy, if he hadn’t taken a more practical route in life. So, then, why can’t he ride off like a gaucho into the vast grasslands, las Pampas de Argentina, when it’s his time, and begin his adventure beyond his body as one of the greatest freedom he has ever known?

With that, I smiled, and he fell asleep.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of spirit and coming home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Link or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, I’ve created a short new video on duende, the spirit of the earth, and on my novel. Check it out: YouTube Video

 

 

24. Grateful for my Mother

BACK TO MY REGULAR BLOG (with novel excerpts in between!) 

WHEN DID YOUR MOTHER SHOW UP WHEN YOU REALLY NEEDED HER?

BLOG 24: August-October, 1997—There are times when you are down and out, and have nowhere to go, and then your mother shows up.  This is one of those times. I’m still in the hills of Oakland, California, writing the beginning pieces of what is later to become my novel, and then my mother visits. I’ve been in pain for months now, but only recently told my mother what was happening to me.

I haven’t been out of the house in a while—that is, until my mother arrives. Soon we are traveling to the ocean, sitting along the dunes of these Pacific waters, and my mother shares her own life challenges with me. I’ve never heard my mother tell me in such a heartfelt way what’s happening with her, and I feel an amazing sense of relief. Suddenly my pain and limitations don’t seem so bad, and, in her sharing, I feel connected to my mother in ways I never have. I have my mother back, I think and smile. In her vulnerability, I am able to be with mine.

There’s a lesson I learn in my vulnerability—and in being given the chance to see that in my mom: sometimes, for those of us who are raised to be so tough, being vulnerable is a gift. It brings us back to our humanity and opens a door for us to be with others with compassion and open heart. It allows us to enter into the grace of life, and become more fully ourselves because we are finally listening. .

WHEN DID YOUR MOTHER SHOW UP WHEN YOU REALLY NEEDED HER?