A View from the Other Side

Observations from the winged dude next door.

Archive for the tag “death”

Death of a Spirit

Death of a Sun GodYou light a candle, but why? For whom? For what purpose? To ask for something or to give something?

Do you grow tired of honoring and loving someone and simply decide to stop one day when something newer and shinier catches your eye?

How does the forgotten one feel? Do you care? Or is it nothing to you?

“Others will pick up where I left off, or it doesn’t matter, their time is past,” you tell yourself. But what if everyone did this? What if everyone turned their backs on Michael or Elegba or Diana, or your personal guardian, or any of millions of other beings out there who only wish to help, in exchange for a little recognition?

This is how we die.

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torn openIf no one else can help me, then I have no choice but to help myself.

I’ve torn out some stuff that was holding me back.

If I seem more sharp-edged from here out, that’s just the cost of doing business.

The king is dead, long live the king.

Death

Da Vinci profile of an old manI’d been watching him slowly die. He was declining by degrees, in and out of the hospital, slipping away, growing weaker. Nearly a week ago he’d fallen and hit his head really badly, and his harpy of a wife who figures she’s smarter than everyone else, who figures she knows better than the doctors themselves, didn’t get around to taking him to the doctor until hours later, or even the next day, depending on who you ask. From there, the borderline kidney function that he’d been losing ground on failed quickly. His heart, which was already weak from a lifetime of smoking and which had been given a pacemaker on the orders of his wife, simply couldn’t function any longer. His muscles were so deteriorated that he could no longer swallow.

On Tuesday, I helped his regular guardian nudge his mind over into partial consciousness, so that he would at least be spared the ongoing torture and pain of a failing body and of the wife who simply wouldn’t let him die in peace and dignity.

Finally, tonight, he crossed over.

To our surprise, he showed up in my avatar’s kitchen, all in a rush and a panic. He’s worried about his kids, his family, the people he cares about, and what he’s supposed to do with himself now. We told him to be at peace. He’s free. No more pain, no more bowing to what his shrew wife wants, no more limitations. He was unnerved by that. After so many years of living in her shadow, he’s not sure how to be himself, or what to do with this new form.

“Come visit,” we told him. “You’re always welcome here. You can eat and drink anything you want on this side,” I said. “Some of them will know you’re there. Some will be able to see and hear you. But right now… be at peace. It’ll be all right.”

It took him a while, but he accepted this. Mostly. He can be stubborn. But that’s okay. After 86 years, he’s earned it.

I hope he’ll come have wine with me sometime. I’d like that. He’s a neat guy.

A Psychopomp’s Paradox

Michael guiding souls to heaven“Psychopomps (from the Greek word ψυχοπομπός – psuchopompos, literally meaning the “guide of souls”) are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife.”

I reluctantly find myself in this category. It’s not a task I enjoy. I don’t have to do it often, and when I do, it’s only when absolutely necessary.

In one situation, through no fault of my own, I was forced to kill a number of people. I won’t get into details. The entire situation was a nightmare, and I spent years agonizing over what I’d done. It changed me forever. I could not forgive myself. Then, one day, I realized that if those spirits forgave me, we could all move on, and I could heal from my heart’s biggest scar. So I went to talk to them.

At first, most of them wouldn’t forgive me. But some did. Then a few more. Then nearly all of them. And as they forgave, they were released from their bonds, and could to go to the other side. They weren’t stuck any more, as spirits sometimes get with unfinished business. As each of them forgave me, I helped them cross over fully. Finally, the place where it had happened was clean. It was quiet at last, and so was my heart. Then the paradox struck me:

It was because of what I had done to them, that I then had the ability to help their spirits cross over. If I hadn’t been changed, I couldn’t have helped them.

I didn’t think I’d started out as a psychopomp, but upon further reflection, it’s always been true. I’ve always chosen to be with people near the ends of their lives, to help them in their last days. Lately, it’s been more like putting them out of their misery. But either way… it’s very much part of what I do.

The difference, now, is that I’m not just seeing them to the door, I’m helping them safely through it to the other side. This is because I’ve seen the other side of what the Grim Reaper is. I understand death from the inside out. My greatest hurt became one of my greatest gifts.

Thankful for the Pain

sword on anvil

I am thankful for what I have now, for a safe home, a loving family, a meaningful life, the little physical comforts I’m afforded.

I am also thankful for the hell I’ve been through. The pain and despair and loss have made me who I am now, in part. I would not be here right now, I don’t believe, if it were not for those things. I would not be as strong now, or as grateful for what I do have. I would not know how to protect others nearly as well, or how to be a leader, or what real loss really means. I would not know the utter depths of the dark night of the soul that make the light shine all the brighter.

I’ve been told that to become a true priest, or shaman, or holy person, you must go through a literal death and rebirth. I’ve been torn limb from limb and left to die in a dark pit of my own making But, somehow, I survived. I survived in that darkness for long years that felt like long forevers, every day opening my eyes to realize that I was one day farther away from that death, but never getting any closer to a real life.

Weeks, months, years. I was a dead man walking. The only reason I wasn’t in a grave is that I wouldn’t stop moving. Even if I felt nothing, I kept moving. Movement was forward, and maybe forward could lead to something that didn’t feel like being alive just for the purpose of atoning for my sins every moment of every day.

I found that the one thing I had left was a spark of hope in my heart. Then I learned that the spark wasn’t just my own hope, it was light. Somehow, a tiny bit of who I was had survived, like someone carries a tiny coal inside a container for miles and miles until they reach their next camp, then they blow on it and it springs to life.

That spark, that light of the Source… it was there all the time. It gave me hope. It kept me moving. I found my way out of the darkness by following that slender thread.

I have never once, for one minute of one day, not been grateful for what I have now. That includes the lessons of the darkness that enable me to be what others need. The strength, the skill, the creativity, the leadership, the flexibility… I had those things before, but the darkness pounded and forged me into a weapon for the light. An instrument of God. And that is what I’m thankful for.

Life’s That Way

Life’s That Way, by Jim Beaver

“So how to deal with this grief? By sitting in sackcloth and ashes, bewailing fate and cursing one’s betrayers? I find nothing helpful there. To me, life is not back there, with death and loss. Life lies ahead.

“Life is that way –>. Life is a goal, not a passage or a receding image of what once was. And the path is lit by determination and by forgiveness.”

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