As we approach the Christmas holiday, I am remembering with a mix of gentle grief and heartful gratitude my family members who have passed. I am also aware that so many families have lost loved ones during this difficult year. Most present to me this week is my brother Mike. Mike was just one year ahead of me in life but died at the young age of 38. We were called to the hospital on Christmas Eve in 1998 with the news that Mike had gone into a septic coma following a minor procedure after battling Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for over seven years. Although his illness was well-known, his death was unexpected, and our family made the difficult and painful decision to withdraw life support four days later. We later lost my mother to cancer in 2002 at the age of 64, and my father to cancer in 2012 at the age of 74, and although none of those losses were easy and they all seemed to come too soon, my spiritual awareness of their living presence grew with each passing.
What seems funny to me now as my spiritual practice has allowed me to move more firmly into my awareness of the invisible world, is that sometimes I can’t imagine it has been nearly twenty years since my mother has crossed that threshold. I feel her invisible presence standing next to me every day as I move through my own journey of life, and often talk, listen, laugh, and cry with her as I engage with her loving energy. Several months following her passing I had a vivid dream with her and woke up to find a poem in full form on the notepad next to my bed. That poem became the book, The Land Beyond Forever, and it is full of my mother’s joyful energy and spiritual wisdom. The book was illustrated by a phenomenal Minnesota artist, Jill Dubbeldee Kuhn, who beautifully captured this connection to our loved ones through a doorway in our heart in the illustration below. The stanza on that page of the book goes like this: