Through the last several months, I have come to see that I have been dying in slow motion as a way to prepare for ascension.
Even though I did a dry run with The Teachers in 1994, ascension still feels like a deeply organic issue, a built-in function as vital to my well-being as my pancreas’ drive to create insulin, or my lower brain’s need for sleep.
Ascension is just a cellular part of me, and as such, I do not have complete access to its function, timing, or even its true purpose. I know that my kidneys help my body regulate my blood pressure, but it would be madness, wouldn’t it, for me to spend 6 hours a day meditating on hemodynamic homeostasis?
Even so, because ascension is such an integral part of my make-up, and something I cannot comfortably discuss with random strangers (or to be honest, even my dearest friends), I have noticed a bit of an obsessive quality to the thoughts I have been visited with over the last several months.
As a Hospice R.N., I have shepherded many, many people home. I’ve been a nurse for almost 30 years, and was a para-healer for 12 years prior to graduating nursing school. I have seen a lot of death. I have seen what it’s prospect can do to the one experiencing the change, and the ones left behind.
Knowing what human extremity looks, feels, smells, tastes and sounds like has assisted me in the journey I have made into consciousness since January. And over and over again, I am struck with the similarities of emotional milieus ascension and death encompass.
Let me explain.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross distilled the dying process in terms of 5 stages. The stages are fluid, and although the last stage is the preferred outcome, that is often not how it shakes out. Although I think the stages could be re-worked for the ascension process, all in all, it’s a good model for the steep climb we face daily, as we move one day closer to our reward.
1 – DENIAL.
I think the most harrowing times of my life have been when I have been in full-blown denial about what I am hard-wired for. When in full-blown separation mode, I am in the deepest valley of denial. Denial of my God-hood. Denial of my purpose. Denial of my responsibility. Denial of love, caring, kindness.
We know that in psychology, denial is seen as a primitive but essential coping mechanism. It is the old fall-back, one which creates exquisite pain in the sufferer and all those around him/her.
It short-circuits relief from others, it masks anxiety as illness, it distorts and perverts a primal flow of light from earth, and from our higher assistance, and strands us naked on the gritty shore of soulic pain. This is the nightmare some of us are lucky enough to be awakening from.
2 – ANGER.
I am willing to admit that my anger at God has been so extreme, so bitter and repugnant, that the only way out of the pain has been to experience extremes in thought, emotion and deed.
Anyone who has used alcohol or drugs to excess understands that, unless taken in accordance to one’s highest good, and in lovingkindness to all parts of self, doing substances takes us right away from the business at hand. To which I have repeatedly and wholeheartedly said “Screw it all… Let’s do this so we can feel better!”
When working with the Teachers, I would come in sometimes just so downhearted, so down on myself, because I could not understand why I could be scaling the heights of spiritual knowledge, and then crashing at night into a pint of whiskey. What is WRONG with me?
The Teachers one day, without me, even bringing it up, explained something which made me breathe easier: many, many drinkers, and many hard-core alcoholics, choose this drug BECAUSE IT PRODUCES SPIN. They said that it is not that surprising that alcohol is craved by those who are reluctant humans.
When you reach that peak of drunkenness, right before you splash your guts out, there is a very lovely spin. it is overwhelming and often leads to vomiting. But it is there, it is visceral, and it is much like out light body spin.
Anyhow, I confess I was really mad at God for about 50 years, taking a couple years off for good behavior, but have really had an attitude about being here for all my life.
As ascension becomes a real commodity, I found that so much of the anger I was carrying was simply because I had MISINTERPRETED THE DATA. I really have no idea just WHO comes through me sometimes, but the last 6 months have been host to this big, booming knowing which comes through when I am suffering some misunderstanding, and once my logic has been tweaked, bye bye, the emotional charge is gone, the harm given and received is released and transmuted, and boom, anger drained, I am ready for the next phase.
3 – BARGAINING.
Honest to God, I find it absolutely impossible to understand why ANYONE would actually negotiate to STAY HERE. I, on the other hand, have been negotiating with God regarding LEAVING here forever, and the negotiations have become quite interesting.
I think that part of this dance of consciousness is in the constant observation and redefinition not only of Inner, but of Outer Reality. Once I know more, intuit more, confirm more, then I must find more common ground with not only my fellow passengers, but with my own personality (little ‘p’).
I haven’t stopped negotiating with God. At this point, I have come to believe the Bodhisattva path is also mine. But not in a martyr stance, as the term can imply. I’d take the next spin off this dumb rock, have wanted to all my life, but in my shining-est moments, my real moments of truth, I recognize that I am not in charge here (little ‘i’), and it would be a colossal mistake to hitch off this planet now. I am as hard-wired to staying here until told as I am to be thinking about all of this stuff in the first place.
4 – DEPRESSION.
OK, this is where I think the model falls apart a bit. Depression, to me, is made up of the Unholy Trinity (as I have called these bottom dwellers, always swimming in the coldest, dankest part of my psychic pond) Hopelessness, Helplessness, and Powerlessness. I guess if I had to combine these sentiments into one experience, I would name the experience Existential Futility.
I think this is the only part of the model which includes a trap door right into full-blown mental illness. When we do not employ the adage, “Feel it, but don’t believe it,” madness ensues.
I become cut apart, adrift from my roots. So certain of the never ending nature of this grind, this has been the only part of my journey which has threatened my health and hearth. It is a killer.
Depression, oh there are so many reasons for it, treatments for it, and I really have no interest in spelunking this topic at length. Suffice it to say that my organic depression lifted as I was able to hold more light.
I speak these words not to shock or to offend, but to assist others in not feeling crazy: Dying, to me, has always seemed like a very appropriate alternative to the pain I knew living.
I have always been death’s friend. I see a terminal diagnosis as a hand-engraved invitation to go home, so really find it abhorrent when I get some patient whose family can’t bear to “let them go”… do you know I once had a 100 year old patient whose daughter couldn’t bear to let her go… that woman, completely checked out and rotting from the inside out, filled with multiple drug-resistant organisms, we kept that woman alive for 6 weeks.
This, to me, is an obscenity. but even while giving the care and shaking my head in horrified disbelief, I knew that these two were doing a dance I really had no business judging. We CAN keep tissue alive, on a vent, hydrated and nourished and cleaned, for a long time. It’s available, so whose really harmed by a terrified loved one, doing this dance of denial and desperation?
I learned long, long ago to never judge the illness of another. It’s all too mysterious.
But the depression, it returned a few days ago, enveloped me like a very hungry lover, sucked me dry of hope and ambition, made me feel nothing ut that old desire to unplug and go away.
It has since lifted.
I wonder if it could be true that this extreme futility which many of us feel is some sort of sub-strata of fear.
I don’t know…
5 – ACCEPTANCE.
To be honest, this is the only thing that has kept me alive. Up until January, I felt absolutely blessed if every year or two I had a brief glimpse of something other that the slog life had turned into.
Feeling completely unprepared and retarded socially (even though I get along famously with others), this sense of being alien, of being set apart, is what kept me alive. Knowing in my heart of hearts that something other than what I see playing itself out in my life and the lives of those I love, that’s what made things sweet.
These moments of bliss could last as little as a few seconds, but this was long enough to keep me going.
Since January, I have been brought to heights I have never known. I have had spiritual ecstasy that has left me physically spent and satisfied. I have come to know that I am part of a God which knows nothing but love and love and love and love.
This I can accept.
But, I wonder if readers will notice that my discourse on these mood- or being-states is oddly inverted. I am not discussing coming to terms with dying. I am speaking of coming to terms with my divinity. Big difference.
Maybe the Kubler-Ross is not the best scaffolding on which to hang these awarenesses, but as nice a jumping off point as any.
I leave remembering the most exalted shift of my career. Now, keep in mind that I have had a lot of sick, twisted shifts too, but once in a while I catch lightning in a bottle.
This is a story about a little infant who smelled like mothballs. He was less than a year old, and had spent his entire life in a hospital. A review of his history revealed that he had lived through more physical insults than most adults could have withstood. I have never encountered anyone as physically ill as this little baby.
As the charge nurse, I got first dibs on the complicated patients. I could have easily turned down the assignment, but no one else was interested in taking care of the baby, and I had shepherded the last infant, so I took this baby on.
It took him 48 hours to die, and each of those was harrowing. His body would shudder, nearly vibrating, seizing up and rigidly arching his little spine, and then he would lapse into a purr, a deep but uncomfortable respite, until the next attack. To be honest with you, it was much like witnessing a mother’s labor.
By the second night, it was time to hit him with drugs. It was grim and complete, this person’s physical suffering.
By the second night, I was feeling like I was dying when his little body would seize, shake, vibrate, and his little voice-box would cry out a mewl of utter and pitiable pain.
I began working with him, because I had to make the suffering stop.
I began to ask him (for the remainder of this discourse, when I reference hearing something, I am talking about a set of ears dear readers know about but that the general population simply does not understand) why he was hanging on so tight.
This led to my coaching him.
I asked him if he could tell me if he was having trouble letting go. I asked him, when this failed miserably, to explore the other reasons I know infants die… I reviewed what I knew of the mom, a borderline retarded girl who’d already had a kid taken from her due to her neglectful and abusive parenting.
I met the girl prior to my second shift with this little love, and I realized that the mother wasn’t learning anything from this experience. It was all self-referencing and self-aggrandizement with her. She was a super-star martyr, in the big-leagues of those-who-are-screwed-by-life.
So if not for the mother, WHY then?!
Perhaps he was just in for this little bit to really GET what being human is. How frail and mighty the body is, how confining and terrifying the ride can be. Maybe that’s it.
Each time I postulated, I worked HARD with him, trying to open him up, using his shudders and mewls as signposts as to the progress being made energetically.
And each time, I came up empty.
I had no idea why this kid was suffering so. No way to help him.
I finally did the old stand-by. By this time it was 2am. He had been seizing and suffering for two straight days. The most seasoned nurses on the unit were astounded by his stamina, and the severity of his condition. For two days, that little body was purple-blue, mottled and icy. And he persisted.
Finally, in desperation, I told him, quite forcefully,”I want you to understand, your body can no longer support your light. Maybe you don’t fully appreciate this, but your little body is broken, and it is going to stop working very soon.”
Often, just the utterance of this sentiment, verbally or psychically, done in great love and with utmost gentleness, is enough to assist someone slinging to the last moments of life.
And then an odd thing happened.
It was the first time the Council came to me en masse. I really don’t know who these people are, but they are ancient, wise, and have great authority. They came to me as I settled into a rocking chair, holding this fading, faint life, swaddled in rough, pastel-hued blankets.
The air fairly glittered. The room was lit up with a golden light, and I became very light-headed. It was as if I was breathing stardust.
There was a “thrum” to the air, a throb that was more energetic than auditory, and as I sat there rocking, glittery, supported in an unbelievable light, I received the most important admonition of my life.
They very sharply and pointedly stated, “Who are you to tell another how to die?”
Ten little words.
With the words, I felt an energetic blast, sort of like how two magnets will jump apart when in direct oppostion.
I felt an odd, deep shame. I realized I was being told a basic truth.
Who am I to tell another how to die?
And, by extension, who am I to tell another how to live?
The Council stayed with me as the baby began to fade.
A heat-lightening storm came through, and my rocking chair was pointed right at the infant’s huge window. I watched the lightening play against the sky, felt the Council love me, and him, and observed that the boy’s seizures were waning, as was his strength. He mewled less, rested more, and soon began to display all the classic signs of immediate death.
I was reluctant to give the boy to his mother. I felt she was undeserving of such an honor, and wanted nothing more than to have this giant die in my arms.
The Council would have none of it.
They told me that the mother, by virtue of her willingness, deserved to witness this passing. It was not for me, it was for her.
They let me hold onto the baby until the proper moment. I was told, now it’s time. You must go NOW.
I went and woke up the mother. She was heavily medicated, and to this day, I am convinced the event was nothing more than a tiny blip on the radar screen of her self-importance. But I did as I was told.
I led her to the rocking chair, settled her in, handed her the infant, and left the room.
Within a half an hour, he was dead.
I prepared his little broken body, and walked the body out, his form barely lifting the plastic cover from the mortician’s gurney. A little lump, a ball of tissue where an hour before was a mighty soul.
I went to the bathroom and cried like a baby.
I was processing the death with a colleague the next day, and I said that I felt like the mom was a total waste of space. She had completely missed the point.
My colleague told me that this might not be accurate. She had learned from the mother’s family that this woman had experienced the longest stretch of sobriety of her life during the time her child had been in hospital. She said that it was during this time she was exposed to the most nurturing people she had ever encountered.
My colleague wondered out loud what would have become of this lost soul had this little tiny broken baby had not presented himself.
Rather than run and hide in her addiction, she stood and delivered during her son’s brief life. My colleague was convinced, after taking it all in, that this that make-it-or-break-it, pivotal time in this young woman’s disadvantaged, unfortunate, destructive life.
Looking back on the experience now, I have to wonder if maybe, just maybe, he hung on so long and so hard because he needed to get me to a place of frantic care-taking, where I would do literally anything to have his suffering relieved.
And after 2 12 hour shifts with this creature, when he saw I was beside myself with desolation because I could not reach him, the Council was able to come through and put a few things right.
I have often wondered why he chose me. How was it that he managed two nights of dying, where I got him both nights? How was this possible?
Although I believe that his primary responsibility was to assist his mother, I hope you do not think it egotistical for me to suggest that maybe God needed me to partake in this soul’s end so that I could be granted a lesson in Earth life. I always knew we’d had a soul contract. That much was obvious. But to what end?
It has only been the last few days that I have thought of this child again, and have come to understand that maybe part of his burden was to fulfill an obligation to me, to help to give me a lesson that was central to any hope of my ascension this lifetime.
Who am I to judge?
And who am I to think I know best?
Who am I to imagine that I have all the answers?
When all is said and done, showing up and paying attention, doing so with a willing heart, or at least a curious one, and being ok with not knowing how things are going to end up, what else is there in life?
I have seen my work progress these last six months down the natural and awesome path of someone facing their own mortality in a real and concrete way.
I’ve known since January that these are the last 12 months I will have in my old way. This is it. I know that.
And because I have used my hospice time to work out the fear and agony of facing one’s possible terminal illness provides, it has only been in my 51st year of life that I have opened to the idea that staying here, being here, participating as best I can on any given day, this is a great privilege and honor. And it is expiring.
I am, one by one, going through every single relationship I have ever had, and finding that there is a finality to it all. Loved ones I have known nothing but connection with have begun to fade, and others, new people, have come into my life with such force of goodwill, I do know that my soul’s transition is at hand.
Getting right with God. Forgiving all your past bs, letting others off the hook who traumatized, demonized or ostracized me.
Wouldn’t I be doing the exact same thing if, in January, some doctor had told me I have stage IV lung CA with mets?! How would my process be any different? The biggest difference is that I am doing this work alert, not medicated, and in the best physical fitness of my life.
How awesome is that?
I have always equated happiness with, “Well, I could leave this Earth tonight and die happily.” That to me is the highest compliment, to a good meal, or a clever lover, or an inspiring work of art. But now, this too is inverted.
When struck by loveliness or perfection, I now no longer go to that place, the “Oooh I could die soooo happy right now” place. Now, when confronted with great love or mercy or tenderness, I can feel my old soul settle into my bones, I can feel a settling of my foundation, I can feel the glitter inside my skin, shining out of my eyes, breathing through my chest.
How is ascension different than death? I believe they are the same process, but one is done when the life switch has been flipped “off”, and the other is when we are wired for sound, fully present, on the edge of out seats, and hungry for the next high, the next peak, the next deep understanding, the next thrum, the next rash of heat lightening, the next baby handed to us for comfort and protection and care.
We are the infant, the nurse and the Council at this point.
We are experiencing death, birth and mid-midwifery daily.
We are living in magic and ancient times.
This awe I feel, for a process as ancient and new as it is, is the only thing keeping me here. It is the only thing that allows me to make sense of the heartbreaking reality of having to cuddle a child through its death.
Not everyone swims in these heady waters.
But I do, and I want to talk about it.
The time of being an undercover operator are coming to an end.
This baby’s struggle, his heroic two days of struggle, might have been for more than just my benefit.
I think he can teach us all about the mystery of this life, of these deaths we know in ourselves and in others. I was told that the holiest of roles is to hold space. Just to hold space.
Fie to the ones who attempt to organize or interpret this space, or explain it to others. These actions demonstrate only one’s innate misinterpretation of the data, of one’s role.
Holding space is all.
I now hold space for you.