My grandmother passed on February 14th, 2012. She was 95. She died of uterine cancer, one that she had chosen about three years ago to not treat but to allow to run its course because she was not at a point where she was willing to trade the misery of chemo for a few more years.
Over the last few years, I’ve watched her go from a vibrant woman to a shut-in invalid who was waiting for death. In the end, with hallucinations, confusion, and lots of tears, she lost consciousness on February 11th and never regained it.
Last week was hard for me. As a spiritual person, I turned to my faith in God, my connection to the Divine, capoeira, yoga… and promptly chucked it for a beer, smokes, and eating badly.
Granted, this woman was a part of my life since I was born. Her home was my sole refuge for nearly 20 years, and for many of my cousins, it was sanctuary. Sanctuary meant that when the dogs bite, the bees sting, and the rest of the world turns their back, I always had a warm bed, a plate of hot food, and someone who would be there for me no matter what.
When I said ” F*** this” to my college life and ran for the hills and mountains of Colorado, my one stop on my mad flight away from the shambles of my life was my grandmother’s house. She gave me $50 (and she was living on $286 from Social Security), a bag of burritos, and a plea to stay there. Maybe I should have, but I was insistent that I had to go to Colorado. She gave me a hug and told me that I was always welcome at her house.
Who else gives unconditional love like that?
Yes, I fell apart. My carefully constructed life of balace, harmony, and easy acceptance of my relationship with God and my eternal soul promptly fell apart like a sand sculpture before the ocean – instead of peace, all I had was an aching emptiness inside where a person’s life once comforted me. Nothing felt more like a lie than trying to go through a sun salute with this hole blown through the middle of my life, not to mention eating healthy. It was easier to smoke a cigarette and drink a beer to take the edge off then it was to accept the pain and move on.
A week afterwards, I have since carried her to her final resting place, and cried with my cousins, eaten so much greasy road food that I gained three pounds, and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes. Self-destructive behavior was oddly pleasurable, as though each bite of greasy food, each drag on a coffin nail, each swallow of beer hurt and let go of a little bit of the horribly relentless pain, that hurt that nothing can ease… and each day I did it again.
This morning I finally was able to calm down enough to meditate, to turn my focus from my pain and try to reconnect with my soul and with God. I didn’t follow a specified meditation, I just closed my eyes in the bath and followed the path to my soul and God. Instead of regimented discipline, I just floated in that peace for a moment, feeling a gold light surround me. It was peaceful, and for the first time, I was at peace with my grandmother’s death. She’s at peace, a more profound peace than I will ever find, no matter how much I meditate, no matter what yoga set I do.
Yogi Bhajan said that there are levels of afterlife. Simplistically (relatively), it goes like this:
1. 30 seconds before you die, you see your life flash before you.
2. 20 seconds before you die, you judge yourself.
3. 10 seconds before you die, you take your last breath and then die.
As you die, you enter a cylinder (the white light of Near Death Experiences) and you pass to a place to choose where to go – to the left and heat or or to the right and cold. Yogi Bhajan says to go to the cold and not the hot part. From there, you hang in Earth’s electromagnetic field for 17 days before you enter the blue ethers and go on to the next life, or stay in heaven. Occasionally, some people just skip that and fly right through to the ethers, according to YB.
I personally think we simply go to God, and ask to stay there or occasionally ask to return. Some souls seek to find heaven, others seek to wander because they have to see.
Back to my grandmother – I can feel, in my heart and in the core of my soul that she is with God, in the realm of pearly gates, streets of gold and precious stones, and where all is fulfilled. She lived a hard life and made hard choices in the name of protecting, raising, and maintaining her family. In the end, when she died, I am sure she cast aside her body, which must have been like shedding dirty, rank clothing and being free.
The night I left West Texas to go home, I stopped to eat on the road and looked at the stars… they were so bright and seemed like there were billions and billions of them. I kept looking at them and wondering where the boundary between physical and spiritaul was, and how many people sat at that boundary, watching the people who go by. Loved ones watching us and wondering if they loved us enough, held us enough, or otherwise did enough while they were here. I know I wonder if I told her I loved her enough times, hugged her enough.
On a show that I follow on Netflix, one of the principal characters lost his dad. He was sitting with his brothers as they shared profound statements that were the last words their father had said to him, and his last words were that “Crocodile Dundee 3 was worth watching, and it totally holds up.” instead of revealing that his dad pocket dialed him and saying he loved his son.
My last words with my grandmother were when she hugged me, and said a blessing for me as I traveled home. I kissed her forehead and told her that I loved her. that was the last time I saw her, smiling and happy for me and my family.
I love my grandmother and miss her dearly. Today I was able to reconnect with my soul and with God again. It still hurts, and it will hurt for a long time. No more beer, or smokes, or bad eating. I’m done with my streak of self-destruction, and ready to move on.
In the path of my life, this is yet another stretch where there were only one set of footprints, although I think I’m ready to start walking on my own again.