All You Need Is Love

For many years, I put great store in my ability to “get things done.” I had to. I was a single mother (even when I was married) of four children, with a job. And, as the jobs got better and better and more and more demanding, I prided myself on keeping up. I set impossible goals for myself. I demanded that I become a better employee, housekeeper, cook, nutritionist, pianist – better and better at whatever was put on my plate. My value system was based on achievement. I was self-reliant, I was delivering, and my self-worth depended on it.

It didn’t help that I worked in Washington, D.C., that famous breeding ground of over-achievement and brilliant performance. I was in a place where I could  watch others doing it up close, and when I could, I emulated it. No, that’s not quite accurate. I admired it. Sort of. But climbing that particular ladder required a healthy appetite for competition and the ability to thrive on conflict. I wasn’t wired for it. I was lucky in that, except for a few years in the competition pit, I worked for people who believed in consensus building. That I loved. That I believed in. Still, in the areas where I pitted myself against myself, I was relentless and driven. The more I could get done, the better I felt about myself. As a woman in a man’s field, I prided myself on outworking the boys, and I got a lot done. But no matter how much I got done, it was never enough. Nothing in Washington stands still. And at home, the clean house got dirty again, the full refrigerator was emptied routinely, the beds were unmade every night, and the kids got hungry three times a day. I had no help, and there was no conquering the unending work. Eventually, it became depressing and exhausting. Not because I couldn’t accept the impermanence of everything, but because I thought I was what I did.

It took a traumatic event to change my mind – the death of my child. Everything I thought was important faded into the mist in the face of this shattering experience. Winning, conquering, being right, being better, doing better, doing more, seemed trivial and insanely secular. Death will realign your perspective. The death of a child will reconfigure it altogether.

I write about this not because I can’t forget it – and I can’t of course – but because of the profound change it brought about in my understanding of life. It’s a long story, and it’s in my book, but the bottom line was – I had to learn something entirely new or die from grief.

I learned that I am not what I do. I am not the body that works itself into exhaustion and ages and dies anyway. There is more to me than that. I am life itself – never ending. I am a Spirit in a body, ageless and perfect. Nothing I do causes that or changes that. Everything else is ornamental. Window dressing. Costumes and makeup. A play. And all the world’s a stage. When I can remember that, “doing things” is much more fun, because the “things” are put into perspective. I was reminded of that this afternoon when I went shopping at Target. For my international readers, Target is a massive general store with supposed competitive prices. I was seriously intent on getting what I needed and getting back on the road (It’s an hour’s drive from where I live but why I was in a hurry I don’t know) when I passed the electronics department. There, high on the wall, on a gigantic screen, were little cartoon characters singing the Beatles’ song, All You Need Is Love. I just had to stop and laugh. Then I drove home slowly through Oak Creek Canyon, one of the most spectacular places on this earth, and let my Spirit take the lead.

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Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at www.amazon.com. For a signed copy, go to www.themessenger.space.

 

The Well

Life can turn on a dime. In one split second, a single event can send you crashing through the surface of your life into what I think of as a deep well, wherein lies the truths you never sought and never needed to find. That is what happened to me when my son died. It was something so shocking, so demolishing, that everything that lived on the surface of my life and my mind was reduced to rubble. There was nowhere to go except into the well.  Or die. It was that simple.

There is a line from the movie, the Shawshank Redemption, when the character Andy Dufresne says to his fellow prisoner Red: “I guess it comes down to a simple choice: Get busy living, or get busy dying.” I made the choice to get busy living, although I don’t know how or why. The choice did not come from the surface of my mind; it was capable of nothing more than contemplating suicide. The choice to live had to have come from my soul. Perhaps that is the well. Within that well is the part of us that knows better, the part that knows that dying is nothing more than a delay, and that the plunge into the well will come sooner or later. I believe that we are destined to know why we are here, that we are more than the busy creatures who are consumed with accumulating stature and possessions. I believe that we are destined to know who we really are: the perfect, stardust children of God.

I never stopped to think about the possibility that there was that well within me, that something bigger and deeper and wider was going on behind and beneath my daily rituals. I simply didn’t stop.  It took my son’s death to stop me. It took away everything that was small and trite and everything that glittered like gold. It took away my control. It took away my illusion of control. It stripped me clean of all ornaments and accessories, and left me in the well, naked and empty-handed.

That was thirty-eight years ago, and I can still feel the shock. But what has come of that shock, that plunge into the well? Nothing more than an awareness. An awakening. The ability to stop or to be stopped and ask, “What does this mean, and how is it meant to help me?” Eddie’s death gave me that.  It gave me the well. It gave me the understanding that every soul decides when its purpose in any lifetime has been fulfilled. The timing of Eddie’s passing into spirit was his, not mine.

Not everyone is stopped by something as devastating as the loss of a child, thank God. But we will all be shaken awake by the Hand of Something Loving, so that we will know that life is more than the perceptions we receive from our daily work and striving. It may be a health crisis, or the loss of a job. It may be getting a job. A broken leg. It may be winning the lottery. It may be getting married or getting divorced. And yes, it may be the death of a loved one. At some point, we will be stopped, and we will learn something, hopefully in this lifetime.

And there is joy in that. There is joy in the knowledge, the surety that there really is a reason for everything, that there is an answer to every pressing question. Oh, but it takes work. Nothing this valuable is free.  It takes time to discover our truths. It takes concentration and persistence. It takes determination. As for me, I have to commit to prayer and meditation. I have to read the works of great teachers. I have to hear my intuitive voice and trust it. I have to hang around my spiritual buddies who work with energy, people who understand that underlying everything is Love.

I am in the middle of a lesson right now. There is a strain of flu that is going around Sedona, knocking down my friends. I, who am never sick and like to brag about it, got knocked down as well. It was at its worst two weeks ago (I didn’t write my blog because I was down with what thought was a bad cold), but the thing about this strain of flu is that it sticks around, and while you may not be totally bedridden, you can suddenly feel lightheaded, sick, and tired. For some it lasts three weeks or more. I’m in my third week now and frustrated because my body wants to sleep at odd hours and it won’t obey my commands to go, go, go. Some days I feel normal and others, like today, I feel frustrated because the tiredness and general malaise is back.  Some of my spiritual buddies out here feel that it is a cleansing. Perhaps they’re right. Whatever it is, it has stopped me. But it has made me remember that there is something bigger going on. Always.

Maybe what’s going on is nothing more than a little gift of time. Maybe the Universe is saying, time to rest, daughter. Maybe it’s time to lay back on your pillow and look out the window at that fabulous blue Arizona sky with its white, cottony clouds. Maybe it’s time to remember how good sweaters feel and how good chicken noodle soup tastes – like it used to when you were sick and your mother gave it to you. Maybe you need to take some time away from the dismal news to watch a good movie in the middle of the afternoon, or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Maybe, when you’re used to getting up early, you need to turn over and go back to sleep and have a beautiful dream. Maybe you need a tad more compassion for your friends that are down. Maybe it’s time to be grateful for the wonderful health you enjoy most of the time. Maybe…oh, well, you get the point.

We’re all loved, dear friends. And everything we need is in the well.

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Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at www.amazon.com. For a signed copy, go to www.themessenger.space.

 

 

 

It Begins Again

Here, in the land of the red rocks, I have begun my second book, the sequel to The Messenger. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that The Messenger II has begun because it is time, I am ready, and I am in the right place. I am merely the scribe, not the author. As it was with the first book, I am being impressed with the continuation of the story of Lukhamen, my Spirit Guide; that is, I see it in my mind’s eye. It is fascinating. I wish I could explain it.

I can tell you that this is how it happens: I sit before my computer and the story begins where it left off.  Always. No matter how much time there is between segments. And I see it unfolding in the present, even though the lives of the people I write about lived long ago. When the segment (for that is how it happens, in segments) is over, I am back in my own present. That may be confusing. Let me say it another way: When I am in the story, or when I am observing the story taking place, I see it as it is occurring. Not as it occurred. That is why I write it in the present tense.

Or how about this: When you are watching a movie, and unless there is a flashback, you are watching a story unfold in the present. It is happening now, in front of your eyes, even if you are watching a historical dramatization of past events. That is what it is like for me. I am watching a movie. I see a little of it at a time, and I write it down as it is happening. Afterwards, I go back to what I have written and edit it —make it into coherent sentences.  Chose the right word to describe what I saw on the “screen.”

I suppose you would call this channeling. The word for it is not important. The significance of this amazing occurrence is that it is a gift—a miraculous gift— that I can pass on. Not only is the story fascinating—who wouldn’t like to be a witness to the end of an era in Egyptian history—but it contains a message, a wonderful message, a message of hope, a message that saved my life when my son died.

I’m going to share with you now a little of the story as it begins again, a little preview of things to come:

 

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The heat of the sun wakes him. He rises upon his arms, and notices that his hands are rough and bloody in places. From crawling? He turns on his hips to half-sit, to see his surroundings. He is in the desert, alone. A scorpion scuttles past him, causing him to start. He needs shade, water. A bush beckons to him, and he pulls himself through the rough sand toward it, dragging his legs. It takes all his strength to reach the sparse shade.  He is exhausted by the time he reaches it, and lies prostrate beneath its fragile shelter. He cannot remember how he got here.

He dimly remembers a boat, and a river. No, not a boat. A temple barge. The heat scorches his bloody hands and burns the scalp beneath his hair. I had a family. I had a god. The words will not form on his parched lips. They are in his mind, his poor, wretched mind, which does not know what brought him here to this place that must surely kill him with its heat, its searing sun, and its sere, bleak loneliness. He closes his eyes and waits for death. He does not see, nor does he feel the hands that lift him onto the makeshift carrier. He does not feel the wracking ride over the rough rises, nor is he aware of the horse that drags him or its rider.

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Like you, I do not know what is going to happen. The other part of The Messenger II, as it was in the original Messenger, will be based on the memories I have of my husband Bill, who passed away seven years ago. I am guessing that most of my readers have read The Messenger, and understand already how the present and the past can come together in the most beautiful way. I suspect it will be the same with The Messenger II.

And so it begins again.

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Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at www.Amazon.com or www.themessenger.space

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Faith Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

 

Here’s what I found out this past week: faith doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t even have to feel good while the Universe is working for you. You can feel bad. You can feel doubt, and even a little fear. You don’t have to know what’s going on. Most of the time we don’t anyway. This past week showed me that.

On Monday morning, my house (which has been on the market for three years – for those who don’t regularly follow this blog) was inspected. On Monday afternoon, I got a copy of the inspector’s report. Things looked great. Except for two items. He suggested that I needed safety electrical receptacles in the kitchen and…OMG…there was mold on some of the joists under the house. I freaked. I had the house treated for mold 3 years ago. Guess what?  It comes back. I’ve since learned that just about every house in my county has mold. We’ve been living in dampness and rain for as long as I can remember. Still. This freaks buyers out. That’s when I went into the tunnel. The buyer had five days to respond. She could ask me to make the repairs or walk out on the contract. That’s what happened after my last two inspections. I had extensive repairs to make, and I made them, but the buyers left me. And I still had that nagging fear in the back of my head. Would my house ever be acceptable to a buyer? Since I bought it fourteen years ago, I had almost rebuilt it. I just didn’t think I had anything left to put into it, physically or mentally.

So, I did what I always do when confronted with fear. I went to my spiritual readings. I prayed. I meditated. And – this was the hard part – I refused to entertain any thought outside of going to Sedona, the place to which I am called, the place I have been trying to get to for more than three years. For four interminable days, I heard nothing. I was living in a silent limbo. The worst part was the silence. The longer it went on, the more I was tempted to think the worst. My friends had already started to be happy for me. What in the world would I say to them if the third buyer walked away? I was in and out of a low-grade panic, but I stuck to my guns, put it aside every time, and thought only of finding my perfect house in Sedona. Kept it all positive, scared but positive.

I had believed for some time that I only had to know the what. The Universe would take care of the how.  And so, when I was at my best, I was chanting the Universe will take care of the how.

I didn’t start out wanting to embrace a spiritual life. I believed in my childhood God, but a Universe (or God, if you like) that was benevolent and loving in all things and in all times was something that I just didn’t think about.  Until my world turned upside down. My son Eddie died, and I was thrust into a maelstrom of grief and despair.

The people I know today who are on a spiritual path did not get there because they thought it was a good idea. They got there through the terrible doors of tragedy and trauma. There may be no free entry to this world of the spirit. But one needn’t worry. Life will eventually give everybody a mountain to climb. And at the foot of that mountain, we will climb toward the light or we will lie down and die.

On Friday, day four of the silence, I got a phone call from the Arlington Metaphysical Chapel. A few days prior, I had called, hoping against hope that I could get a reading from Rev. Reed Brown, and was told he had no openings until September. If you’ve read my book, you’ll know who he is – very likely the most gifted psychic medium on the planet. The man who, after Eddie’s death, saved my life.

I asked the chapel secretary to put me on the waiting list, in case somebody cancelled (which they never do). This might very well be the last time I would get to see him, and I really needed some encouragement from Spirit. On Friday morning, the secretary told me that somebody had cancelled and that I could see him on Tuesday. My flight out to Sedona to look for a place to live is on Wednesday.

Later that day, my stepdaughter Laura drove (two hours!) down to see me and brought her five-year-old twins, Fiona and Ella. Even knowing I was going to see Rev. Brown, knowing I would get encouragement from Spirit and perhaps some good news, I was nearly at the end of my positive streak, ready to cry or give up hope of ever selling my house, or of answering the call to Sedona. But Laura brought new, sweet energy into my house and into the day which had threatened to turn dark. We made lunch and took the girls down to the river. On the beach, there were other children with shovels and pails, and an adorable dog. Laura and I sat in the shade of a tree and watched them play, full of life and joy. Large striped bass played further out in the river, their tail fins sparkling in the sun. The weather was perfect. A soft breeze cooled the air. I knew then that the Universe had sent love to get me through that last day. For the first time in four days, I didn’t check my messages every five minutes for news from the buyer. When it was time to go, I hugged the girls goodbye, and almost absent-mindedly checked my phone for a text. And there it was. It came as we were on the beach. The buyer has asked me if I will make the renovations suggested by the inspector. I will, and we are ready to move on to the next step: appraisal. It can’t be as nerve-wracking and dangerous as this part was, that’s for sure. We’re on the way home, so to speak.

My faith is not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. I waver and return to the center. I doubt and return to faith. I am afraid and return to peace. And that is how it works when you’re human.

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Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney is available at http://www.themessenger.space and at www.Amazon.com

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Longwood Gardens

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I haven’t known Gini long. She came to me when her son died. Gini’s brother is a longtime friend of mine and he sent her my book, The Messenger. She read it and emailed me. She wanted to drive down to Maryland (Gini lives in Pennsylvania) to meet me.

Gini’s son Andy had died about three months before. Raw and in fresh pain, Gini sat across from me at my kitchen table. We talked for almost four hours without stopping. Gini spent the night and drove home the next day.  What we talked about wasn’t especially illuminating or comforting. We just talked about our children, Andy and Eddie.

What an unwanted sisterhood is ours! We would give anything not to have this in common. I have other friends like Gini and me. They also have survived. For one long, hard day after another, we wake to find ourselves still here, still breathing, still putting one foot in front of the other. In spite of ourselves. Even when it is not what we want. It’s a long, hard climb, and some of us don’t make it. Ever so often I think of my aunt Brydie and her son Woody, who was injured in a horrible car accident. She sat by his hospital bed for two days as he hung onto life. When he died, she saw the family through the funeral, and a few days later she died. Her heart broke and then it stopped. She had been a healthy person, never sick. There are people who can’t understand that, perhaps, but Gini and I can. My friends Brigitte and Sybil can.

Every species on earth is committed to the survival of the young. Birds, tigers, wolves, living things of the sea, air, and land are engaged in it as a primal, instinctive response to life. The death of a child is unnatural. Out of the order of things. Parents who suffer through this are not only consumed by unspeakable grief, they are also confused, disoriented, and guilty. If you’ve ever seen an animal in the presence of its dead young, you have seen that pain and confusion. This isn’t right, they are saying. Some howl. Some wail and cry. Others pace back and forth in sad bewilderment.

Instinctive behavior can be defined as follows: A relatively complex response pattern which is usually present in one or both sexes of a given species. These responses have a genetic basis, are essentially unlearned, and are generally adaptive. The instinct to preserve the child is in our genes. We are hard wired for the survival of our young, and those of us who survive the death of the young know the failure of that one, primal duty. We have borne the child in our body and have dedicated ourselves unwaveringly to its survival and to its thriving. And in that process, we come to know love like no other love. It is the love that is greater than ourselves, the love that would gladly place us in the path of death so that the child might live. The grief that comes from that loss is what we have left – that and the sad, awful bewilderment of Nature gone horribly wrong.

I believe we must turn to something greater, something infinitely wiser than ourselves, if we are to withstand this earthly pain. I believe now that there is no wrong in Nature, and that the soul chooses its coming and its going. We cannot alter that timing, even for our child, for it is his and his alone. I have also come to understand that death is not what it seems to be. Like the trees and flowers that sleep in the winter and come to life in the spring, so do our children sleep and come to life in the place of Spirit, as shall we.

Gini invited me to come to Pennsylvania to visit Longwood Gardens with her, and last weekend, I went. There in all its springtime glory, was life surrounding us, life and beauty and the irrefutable evidence that death is not concrete, nor is it solid or permanent. There was peace there, where life was beginning again. And Eddie and Andy were there with us.

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Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at her new website http://www.themessenger.space or at http://www.Amazon.com

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Nobody’s Gone for Good

It has been one year since I began writing this blog. I have, over the course of the year, written about a lot of things, mostly the vicissitudes and the challenges of living day to day. On this, the blog’s first anniversary, I decided it was time to remember why I started writing it in the first place. It was to introduce my book, The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide.  Writing this book, which is about the death of my son Eddie and the discovery of Spirit, my own and that of a loving Guide, simply saved my life. The Messenger, whose name is Lukhamen, lived in Egypt a long time ago, some two hundred years after the death of Christ. His story, as he imparted it to me, is a glimpse of life as it was under the brutal occupation of Rome. But it wasn’t until I went to Egypt – quite by chance – and the places I had seen only in my mind’s eye became a reality, that I understood who he was, and why he came into my life at its darkest hour.  The book – his gift to me – is a message of hope for anyone who has lost someone they loved, but especially parents who have lost a child.  The Messenger has found its way into the hands of precious people who have known the awful pain of grief. They have told me that the book was a comfort to them. That is its purpose. I plan to spend this next year seeking out others like them, and asking them to talk with me and to each other, so that we might share our experiences, strength, and hope.  Thank you to all who have stayed with me during this year, and to all who have joined our journey along the way. Your encouragement has lifted me out of many a dark day. Here is how it all started one year ago:

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Welcome to my blog, Nobody’s Gone for Good. I never dreamed I would write a blog. Blogs were not invented by my generation. My granddaughters are in their twenties. A blog? Why? And why now? For the most part, I have led an ordinary life. But something happened to me that was not at all ordinary. It was, to say the least, improbable. It began a long time ago, and it took me a long time to write it down. I didn’t fully understand it until I had finished. It’s all in a book now, and it is time to let it go – to wherever it is supposed to go, to wherever it may do the most good. I have been told by this generation that a blog is its first step into the world. I am nothing if not obedient.

The title of my blog, Nobody’s Gone for Good, is borrowed. I was sitting in a movie theater when I heard those words sung onscreen. A woman who had passed on was sitting by her husband; her song was meant to console him, a man so lost in grief that he could neither see her nor hear her. My daughter, who was sitting next to me, touched my arm and said, “That’s it. That’s your line.” I had been looking for one simple sentence that would describe the book I had just finished, one simple sentence to describe the long journey that began with the death of my child.

Do our dead sing to us? Do they love us still? Where are they? Are they gone forever? Or does something live on, and do they whisper to us, saying, Don’t cry. Nobody’s gone for good.

Shakespeare said it so well: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Something happened to me that happens to many, many souls. At the darkest moment, in the deepest throes of anguish, at the point in time when all seems lost, a gift is imparted; a pinpoint of light shines in the night, the glimmer of a small star reaches a spirit in despair, and gives it hope.

 

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

Nobody’s Gone for Good

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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.

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