Nobody’s Gone for Good


I have an old black and white photograph of my son Eddie and his “girlfriend” Kelly. They are about two and a half years old, standing in front of our living quarters on an army base in Germany. Their older siblings had staged a wedding and somebody with a camera caught them as they were about to leave on their “honeymoon.” Eddie is holding a suitcase and Kelly is still in her wedding dress.

Eddie died on September 23, 1979, exactly one month before his eighteenth birthday. The anniversary still has its impact on me and Debbie, Niki, and Michaela, my daughters. Wherever we are in the world, we call each each other on September 23rd. We will again this year.

His sisters probably remember him better as a teenager, but this is the way I see him – a toddler, marrying Kelly or laughing, jumping up and down on my lap, his chubby little arms around my neck. I can still feel his little embrace. This is the way he comes to me. I do not know whether this is his choice or mine, but when he comes, he is always in my nest, in my arms.

No matter what the subject matter, I write this blog every Sunday for those who have “lost” someone they loved, especially for mothers who have lost children. I write it and I wrote my book because I survived, and my story may offer a measure of comfort to those who have not yet found it. I will not tell you that I never cry or that I do not miss my child every day of my life. I am changed forever. But I cannot drown in grief and self-pity because Eddie does not allow it. He insists on coming to me, his little arms stretched out, the light of joy in his eyes.

Nobody’s gone for good, Mom, he says, smiling. I hear you, Eddie, I say to him. I hear you.


The Messenger IMG_0416

The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney is available on It is also available at the News Center in Easton, MD.

Finding Your Voice

Billy Holiday

Nobody sounds like Billy Holiday. And nobody “sounds” like Toni Morrison or William Shakespeare. It is because they have a voice, a spectacular, unique voice. A voice is what makes you sound like yourself.

When I wrote my book, The Messenger, I struggled, as writers do, to find my voice, that thing that makes your writing clean and truthful. My Spirit Guide, Lukhamen, had his own voice. When you read our stories side by side, the difference in what you “hear” is stark and undeniable.

We all have a voice. But we must get away from the noise of life to coax it forward. That is what I did last week when I followed the suggestion of the teacher, whose name by the way, is David G. Mercier.  Following acupuncture, he had asked me if I knew how to “do nothing.” He knew, as I did not, that if I were still enough, I might find my voice, and it might whisper some small truth.

I spent a day, most of it in bed, doing nothing. It was the first time I could recall staying in bed without being sick. I slept some. I read. I was quiet, and thanks to the teacher who gave me permission to do it, not consumed with guilt. When I resumed my normal active life, I assumed that nothing had happened beside rest. I was wrong. Apparently, I had created some kind of space for my voice to come through.

When weather permits, I walk along a river road. It’s quiet. the only sounds are those of geese and the lapping of waves against the shore. Even the occasional car is quiet. Nobody hurries along this road. It was here that my voice whispered some truths I had buried, long, long ago. The details aren’t important; we all have buried treasures. What was important was the insight, the rising to the surface of things I had stored away, like keepsakes in an attic that are never brought down, dusted off, and examined.

Walking along the river road, I realized that I had to seek the forgiveness of someone I knew a lifetime ago. I saw his suffering, and knew that the old pain and loss that I thought was mine alone, was not. I wrote the letter that was long overdue.

I also understood why it was that I was always driven to strive, why rest was never an option, why sleep was never deep, why there was always another mountain to climb, why I had never given myself permission to do nothing. Insight is a wonderful thing.

Children know how to do nothing. Animals know how to do nothing. And we, in a natural, uncontrolled, uncontrived state, also know how to do nothing. Doing nothing gives us pause, the space where we can sound like ourselves, our real, true, best selves. I practice doing nothing now for a little while every day.

And sometimes I think about Billy Holiday. I imagine her standing before a microphone, eyes closed. She takes a deep breath, and for one magnificent split second, does nothing.


For more about David G. Mercier, acupuncturist and counselor, and his wonderful book, A Beautiful Medicine, visit his web site at


The Messenger IMG_0416

Look for The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney at The Messenger is also available at the News Center in Easton, MD, 218 Washington Street.



New and Out of the Blue

Not all of my teachers are from the spirit world.  Some are living, breathing human beings who live in my time and space. I met two of them this week and I learned something from each one that was new and out of the blue.

The first was a real estate assessor from my hometown. I engaged him to instruct me, to place me properly in the market, to tell me, perhaps, why my house hasn’t sold in two and a half years. He sat at my kitchen table possessed with a quiet calm, the kind of calm belonging to long time inhabitants of this area, the kind of calm that stems from a deep connection to the land and the water. He was deliberate in his speech, unhurried. For over an hour, he talked to me about the mortgage money market, local real estate agents, and a view of developments that was formed from forty some years in the business. He was up to date on everything from the newest laws, regulations and building codes, to developments in my own field – standards. He walked through my house, taking his time in every room, upstairs and down, measured the outside, and said he’d get back to me. A few days later, he was back. He came in, sat down at my kitchen table, and said, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Delaney, but I do not have good news for you.”

He had done his homework and had made a discovery. My house had been assessed (from people looking at it from the outside) at twice the square footage it should have been, not only for me but for the last two owners. My second floor is unfinished and should not have been included in the square footage defined as livable space. Therefore: (1) I’ve been compared with and competing with houses, price-wise and otherwise, with those that have twice the livable space; and (2) For thirteen years, I have paid taxes on twice the amount of livable space that I own. The bottom line: I may have to lower my asking price again. But the county may have to repay me thousands of dollars in overpaid taxes.

The teacher looked at me and said, “I’m not going to give you an assessment. I’m going to give you some advice. Go see your lawyer.” He gave me a sheath of papers with all the facts and figures, and then charged me a third of his original fee. The last thing he said to me was, “Go to your lawyer’s office to make the appointment. They never return calls.” I watched him, dazed, as he got into his car and drove away.

The second teacher was the master acupuncturist I’ve been writing about for the past two weeks. The calm that surrounded him was of a different nature, the kind that comes from years of spiritual development and meditation. I had filled out a questionnaire for him that was designed to reveal the state of my general health and lifestyle. Again, I sat before a teacher who asked me questions and talked to me for almost an hour. He asked me when the heart throbbing in my ear started, and I was able to tell him exactly. It was just after my unpleasant and difficult encounter with the last person to make an offer on my house. (It’s always the house – my other grand teacher.) He smiled and I smiled. I also told him the nasal spray prescribed by the ENT doctor had done nothing to relieve the heart pounding in my ear. I’ve got it, I thought. The cause. The thing we were supposed to look for, the root cause of the physical symptom. He inserted needles into my hands and feet, and left the room. In a while, I felt energy move up my right leg, up the right side of my body, and into the trouble spot, the Eustachian tube. When he came back into the room, I told him. “My,” he said, “you are sensitive.” I was feeling pretty self-satisfied. We were going to lick this thing, and I had pinpointed the cause: the house, the bad guy, the ineffectual real estate agent. We sat down for the after-acupuncture discussion, and I was waiting for him to tell me what I already knew: It was that bad encounter that was the cause of everything.

He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Do you know how to do nothing?”


To be continued.


The Messenger IMG_0416

Look for The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney at