It’s the morning of July 14, 1980. I awaken to the sounds of a mourning dove outside my window and a view of Boulder’s sacred limestone slabs reaching into the clouds; these front range Rocky Mountain slopes are where my husband and I once spent happy afternoons climbing, hiking and feeling invincible.
Yesterday, this elegant and strong young man died from cancer at the age of 34. His death ended a year of unforgettable suffering for both of us. My ego tells me this is a deplorable soul-sucking tragedy. Paul was the most loving man I’d ever known and did not deserve to suffer and die before his life could unfold – before we could have our future.
No one will ever love me like that again, says the ego mind. I’m alone, grief-stricken, and sick with heartbreak. I’m scarred for life – just as he was at the end. But I’m still here and he is not.
This voice in my head crushes and flattens me, pushes me back into bed, feels like molten lead pouring down. It deletes my future. I feel miniscule underneath these heavy thoughts. “Why would my husband die of cancer when everyone else our age is launching careers and having babies? What kind of loser am I?” whispers the ego.
Hours later and with tremendous effort, I push out of bed and step outside on the balcony, gazing up at the jagged pink flatirons jutting into a cloudless sky. I take a deep breath and observe their beauty, remember their promise.
It stirs a memory of a time when I first chose Boulder, chose to come to Colorado from the flatlands, with no money or job, just courage and determination. I wanted to break away from old fear patterns, to climb these dizzy rocks even though they terrified me. Magical things happened when I got here; an impossible mountain climbing career, marvelous friends, soul-mate-love and unprecedented happiness.
This reminiscence stirs a powerful recognition inside of me. I’ve chosen the path of courage before. And it served me well.
The voice of inner wisdom that has been knocked out of me for the past year, now whispers: This is your greatest moment. Every lesson you came to learn in order to push into your soul’s potential and align with your highest self, lives in this very instant of devastating grief.
The energy of these words lights me up, gives me breath. My mind chatter quiets and I hear my higher self say: Paul was your greatest spiritual teacher. He revealed his spirit to you as he left his body. He took you on a spiritual journey disguised as a healing journey. It was your healing journey, not his. It was his gift to you.
Over the next few months, I begin to realize that all the things we experienced together in the year of his dying – the meditations, healers, Native American ceremonies, and his fully conscious exit from his body – were all for me. He was finished with this lifetime, not meant to stay longer, just long enough to show me that I was worthy of love and could reach into my soul to find wisdom and courage. He helped me see life in a new way.
“You’ve never been alone,” whispers this inner voice of the divine. “You’ve been held in love and light even in your darkest moment. You must choose which path to take now. This is your choice point.”
The next few years of my life play out as up and down as a roller coaster. Sometimes I’m able to embrace my divine lens view and move forward. Other times I’m lost in self-pity, self-doubt and the blind confusion of anger and grief.
Yet my choice will ultimately be for trusting my soul’s wisdom and consciously taking the spiritual path that gets me here – writing this to you.
Our journeys are never one straight line of uninterrupted wisdom and enlightened action. Neither are they one continuous journey of negativity and fear. All of us vacillate between our ego lens and divine lens perspectives. We spend time viewing life through each lens so that we can make a fully realized choice. These two viewpoints battle for dominance inside of us until our heart finally chooses. This choice becomes the essence of who we are.
-By Sue Frederick, author of Bridges to Heaven: True Stories of Loved Ones on the Other Side
Join me for a grief healing retreat in September at Shambhala Mountain Center