Help From a Departed Husband

He’s a thin man; a cowboy in tight jeans, standing in front of me with his hands in his pockets. We’re having a conversation when I realize that he’s dying; he has advanced cancer and is pretending not to know it.

“You need to go into the hospital,” I explain. “Well, I don’t really want to do that,” he says casually. I become concerned about this man not getting help, and I visit a hospital, walking down its long corridors – trying to find someone or an empty room.

Walking behind me very slowly, he whispers: “Tell her to write. I’m sorry about the cancer.” I turn around and he has died, slipped away in front of me – before I could find help.

I wake up.

I didn’t know him. It makes no sense. Who was he? I rack my brain for connections. Sleepy, I drive the kids to school, get a latte, and come home to meditate on my first client before I call her.

It’s hard to get a reading on Cathy. She’s a down-to-earth Capricorn on the path of the “hard-working number 4.” And, I realize, as I look at the birth date she sent me, so is her husband. They’re both earthy and practical – very strong and intensely bound to each other.

In her email, she said he died last summer. I can feel that he was powerfully grounded and worked with his hands. And it’s clear, from meditating on her birth date, that she needs meaningful work to ground her – to give her purpose.

As I meditate on both of them, I realize that he’s the dying man in my dream telling me that he’s “sorry about the cancer.” I ask him now what he wants me to tell Cathy and the words come: “I provided for her. She’s okay. Tell her not to be so upset. Tell her to relax. I don’t know why she’s so upset.” I write this all down for my client.

Cathy’s having a rough time and cries from the moment we begin talking. She tells me that she was recently hospitalized for depression and she’s falling apart. I tell her I had a dream and it might be her husband. She takes a deep breath and gets quiet. “Okay, tell me.”

I describe the down-to-earth man in the dream. I tell her he knew he was sick but didn’t want the medical care. He wanted it to go the way it went. He’s sorry that it traumatized her. But he’s okay now and wants her to be too. Again, the words – “tell her to write.”

“Yes, he had stomach cancer and died a couple weeks after he was diagnosed,” she explains. “Died at home…never lost consciousness until the end. He suffered terribly.”

She is devastated by the loss and more devastated by the memory of the suffering he went through at home while she cared for him. “He was my rock. I can’t go on without him. I’m traumatized by it.”

I give her all of his messages. I remind her how strong she is, and that she chose this experience as part of her journey. “He wants you to relax and enjoy your life. But I think you need meaningful work to ground you,” I explain.

“Yes, I feel so lost. My job is meaningless.”

Cathy explains that she and her husband were National Park rangers for 20 years. I’m amazed at how well that reflects their chosen paths combining the earthy Capricorn energy with the physically strong path of the number 4; a perfect expression of destined work for these two down-to-earth, hard-working, soul mates. And now he’s gone.

Last summer Cathy transferred to a desk job doing administrative tasks for the Park Service. She can’t go back to being a ranger without him, yet the administrative work is meaningless.

“What did he mean about the writing?” I ask.

“I wrote a blog about what my husband was going through last summer and people loved it. They said I was a great writer. My husband always told me I should write professionally.”

“Have you explored a writing career?” I ask.

She says she hasn’t, so we discuss ideas, classes, books to read, projects to start. Slowly her voice becomes more alive – in small bits – like an engine starting to catch after a long, hard winter. I feel her husband beside me nodding in approval, “Yes, yes,” he says. “Tell her to write.”

Before we hang up, she’s promising to follow-up with the assignments we discussed, taking classes, reading books, looking into graduate schools. There’s hope in her voice. I remind her that she’s still here on purpose with something meaningful to do. “Your pain is your fuel,” I explain. “Use it now to make the world a better place.”

After the session, I thank her husband for showing up and offering guidance. I tell him I hope we got it right.

Sometimes when we’re in grief, the only guidance we’ll accept is what comes from our departed loved ones. He got through to her this time, and she may have turned a corner in her grieving process. Hopefully, she’ll rally her strength to move forward. I’ll hold that vision for her.

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