My father died on Wednesday, September 21, 2005 at 5:23pm est.
I was there. I witnessed the whole the thing.
Our journey began on Thursday 9/15 when his kidneys shut down after a routine procedure to drain the fluid out of his legs. After a detailed explanation of dialysis, he decided that he was done. In fact, he had been saying that his quality of life was no longer fun for a couple of years. He wanted to go to the Bahamas and the Mardi Gra, and then he would be done with this life. He had had lots of adventures - some good, some bad. Mostly, he had wrung everything out of life that he could in a way that was entirely his own invention. He didn't play by rules. He had few regrets. He never missed an opportunity to speak his mind even after several strokes. His doctor told us that once the kidneys shut down, a person can survive for 5-7 days. They transferred him to a hospice center on Friday night. I told him he had to stay alive until Monday. He said, "okay."
I would not leave for Atlanta for another 3 days. Nonetheless, the journey had begun. I purposely told only the people for whom it seemed necessary or suitable. My instincts were to cocoon so I could have the experience as much as I could the way I wanted it. I suspected that upon hearing the news that most people would want to put their energy of contrived compassion and sadness in my space. However, I already felt the pull of a journey inwards to see what there was for me in this poignant life event.
Interestingly enough, I had said to my director at BPI only a few days before that I was really looking forward to the Erasure lectures. I jokingly told her that already someone had tried to sidetrack me with an invitation to a wedding, but I had laughed at the poultry attempt saying that it would take something much more like the death of a family member. Careful what you wish for. The Erasure lectures began the day after I heard the news, and as it turned out it was the perfect place to begin the journey. During my first aura healing, pictures and energy from my relationship with my father poured out of me. The healing and completion had begun. I told one person what was going on and she validated my ability to create such a experience. All during the workshop weekend, I felt his spirit hovering just outside my aura, taking notes. We were already companions.
My brother, his wife, and I left L.A. for Atlanta to be at his bedside on Sunday night. We took the red-eye. We stepped into his physical reality around noon on Monday. He was alert and on oxygen. I would a slight resentment of the sound of that machine over the course of the next 3 days.
The first day, we settled into our roles. My brother, Phil, handled all the logisitics having to do with donating his body to science and closing up his house. His wife, Nikki, was the nurturing support person, deferring all her desires to show-up for her husband and be kind to everyone else. I focused my attention on my father's care and comfort. We each talked to him, said our last piece. We did most of the talking. It was a lot of effort for him to say even a few words. I fell into a pattern of asking yes and no questions to which he could nod a response.
The hospice facility was slightly upscale with a dozen or so private rooms. His room was very pleasant. The TV was on continuously, just the way it would have been if he were home. In the afternoon, we opened the blinds to let the day light in. That seemed to make him happy. The hospice staff was nothing short of extraordinary. Every interaction was an impeccable mixture of deep warmth and pleasantness, professionalism, and respect. I spent long days there and they gave me all the space I needed to have my journey.
One of the first things I noticed about being with someone who is dying is that it is important to ground. They are very much between the worlds and it is easy to want to match them energetically. Also, their space is fragile. It seemed like a relief to him that I was able to maintain my own space and not get too much into his. Fortunately, I had just spent all weekend grounding, so it had become almost second nature. Being grounded also made it easier to deal with the myriad of energies that are involved in the process and still stay connected to your goal. Mine was to stay connected on some level to my father and his process.
Monday night I stayed at his bedside until about 11pm. Just about that time he said the last words he would ever say to me. "I'm 71.", he said. He seemed quite proud of that accomplishment. I acknowledged him for his adventures and generally good life. Later in my own bed at the home of my friends of the Atlanta Morehouse, I was running my energy and felt him watching taking more notes. I explained to him in my meditation how to ground. The next thing I knew we were getting communication from the Supreme Being that grounding was necessary for ending the karma and cutting the chords he had accumulated over his life time. He was shown how to do it expeditiously in no-time, no-space. This time I took notes. One of the many lessons I learned in this process was that it happens as you believe.
That night I had a familiar nightmare where an malevolent energy fills the room nearly paralyzing me with the weight of it. The object is to make it out of the room before I am consumed by it, which I always seem to do. I typically wake up with a foreboding feeling. This time I turned the light on and started reading Emoto's book, "The Messages of Water". I had heard about his work in the film "What the Bleep" and was fascinated by how his perspective and philosophy had changed as a result of his research into the nature of water. His work is based on the notion that water is alive and responds to verbal and visual messages as evidenced by the crystals that are formed when its frozen.
Tuesday I was met in the lobby by the nurse on duty who told me that his condition had changed dramatically over night. He was no longer responding to visual or verbal stimulus. The body of knowledge surrounding the dying process is surprisingly thorough and useful. I had read about the stages a person goes through when they are dying, so I had a good idea what to expect at each step. In any case, I was not surprised. It was clear to me that he was off on the astral doing his completion work. Indeed, when I went into the room, his eyes were vacant behind half-open lids. He was clearly not in the room. Phil and Nikki arrived a couple hours later. We sat together talking for a few hours with my brother mostly coming and going.
My father's body continued it's laborious efforts to pump oxygen and blood through its systems. Nikki and I were both extremely impressed by the body's will to go on relentlessly. The staff turns him about every 4-8 hours depending on the presence of the family. They make every effort to not interrupt family visits. Since we were basically camped out for most of the day and into the night, they would notify us. Their timing was amazing because it was usually about the time we were needing a break from our vigil. When we came back in, Nikki and I noticed that there was a change of expression on his face and his leg had a tremor. We began to wonder if he was in pain. The nurse came in and gave him some morphine and he seemed to relax. We discovered that they don't like to give the patients morphine when the family is around because it puts them to sleep. I told her that he must not be in any pain under any circumstances. I didn't want him to suffer on our behalf, nor did I want him distracted from his process of completing relationships and karma.
I stayed that night until nearly midnight watching TV at his bedside. He did not return to the room. Later in bed, I meditated a bit, and read some more of Emoto. I put my cell phone next to my pillow expecting to be awakened at any time by the good folks at the hospice center to say he had passed in his sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, Wednesday, I was surprised to not have received a call. During my medititation, I began to surmise that he was stauled in his process for some reason. I thought about the message in Emoto's book about how we can change the energy of something by the energy of our intention. I remembered that when Shakti's mother lay dying, they were playing a recording of Gurumayi singing Om Nama Shivaya continuously. Instantly, I knew that what was required was a change in the energy. I resolved to turn off the TV and sing or play upliftng devotional music to him that day. I had swiped a Deva Premal cd from Zoe to bring on the trip and had begun listening to it the night before on the way home. There is a cut on it that Alisha had explained to me the week before was used in sound healing. It's called "Om Namo Bhagavate" which is my favorite chant, and I particularly like her arrangement.
I played it continuously as a I drove to the hospice center. When I went into his room, he looked almost the exactly the way he did when I left the night before. So I turned down the sound on the TV and sat down next to his bed, touched his hand, and began singing Om Namo Bhagavate quietly. Almost immediately, he began returning to his body. His expression changed slightly and he lifted one of his eye brows. We were in communication. I kept singing. It was like a love song to his spirit. I started feeling transported to a higher realm. The love song began to include all there was. I sang specifically to his body-being at one point, and I could feel his body shift in gratitude and release. I was overwhelmed at times by how intimate, lovefilled, and blissful it felt to be in communion with him at this level. After awhile it wasn't just him, I saw 2 spirits, the transition team. They felt good and they seemed impressed and grateful that I had stumbled upon this key. I kept singing to and with him and them. The process had changed perceptibly. I sang a little louder. More spirits arrived, a welcoming committee. The energy was so high and sweet that at times I choked back tears because I knew it was working and it felt so good, so primal, so old, so right. I flashed to an understanding that this is how people get to the other side in the best of all circumstances, someone is singing them along the path. I kept grounding, golden suns, and singing.
I did this for about 15-20 minutes, and then Phil and Nikki arrived. I explained what I was doing and I asked if they had brought any of their contemporary Christian music. They had not, but they knew of a good radio station which I had also been listening to, so we turned that on. My brother continued coming and going while Nikki and I sat and talked. In the new energy, the level of our conversation became intimate and truthful. Through the course of a few hours, we fell inlove with each other. I had a new understanding of their family as well as a growing fondness for her daughter, Brittany, who I was finally willing to publicly acknowledge as my neice, a member of our family. I gained a new family that day.
In the early evening, my brother's restlessness became more than could be contained within the hospice center. He and Nikki announced they were going to the mall for awhile. When they left, I decided it was time to go back to chanting. I turned the radio off and took up residence at his side. But when I opened my mouth, I realized I couldn't remember the tune. So I went out to the car to play the cd for a minute or so to get the tune again. I was anxious to get back in, so I grabbed the cd and went back in.
When I got back to the room, his eyes and mouth were wide open and he was staring at a corner of the ceiling with an expression that resembled awe. More importantly he was perfectly still. Something in my chest caught, fear, "oh no, this is it!" I quickly grounded and started singing as I stood still at his bedside. I didn't think it was quite over, and there should be singing until the end, so I kept singing. He took another breath. He tried to say something. It felt like amazement for what was happening to him. I was back in communion with him. My sense was that he was becoming light. I kept breathing and singing. After a couple minutes, when it seemed that he was out of his body, I went and sat down on the other side of his bed. I needed a chair. I kept singing. In another minute or so his eye lids lowered slightly, and it was over. The upper half of the room was filled with light - his spirit and the others. We did it.
Just as I had the thought to go get someone to confirm death, my favorite of the nurse aides came into the room softly. She brought in the nurse and another nurse aid. I started to call my brother on my cell phone, but when I couldn't get a signal, I lost my ability to keep it together. The tidal wave of tears that had been welling up all day rolled over me.
It was over. We had all risen to the occasion with such grace and in the end it was the deepest most exquisite experience of my life.