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What if…part 2. Working through loss.

There was such a positive and powerful response to the first section of chapter one, I thought I would offer the second section to the chapter…please let me know your sense about it… in love and light, bg

I notice the Dean’s lips are moving, but I can’t quite make out what she is saying.
Oh good. Finally she is talking.

Involuntarily, I shivered. She was sitting right next to me, but I couldn’t really understand what she was saying; the words were coming in like an out of tune radio station, they just didn’t make any sense. And then I heard her, sharp and clear…
“Robbie is dead.” “His car went off the road Saturday morning. The police think he was killed instantly.”
The thoughts inside my head blew about me …
No, he isn’t dead; he can’t be dead. I have to tell him…
I have to see him.
I have to tell him how sorry I am.
I have to tell him I’m ready to marry him.
His face flashed across my inner vision. The feelings from our last meeting crashed in my heart.

Flash. Crash!

No! I have to set this right.
I heard my words reverberate back to me. “No! No, he isn’t dead.” “No you mean he’s in the hospital. He’s just hurt; he’ll be okay,” as if I was giving her the corrected line. I couldn’t accept what she was saying.
My urgency must have been unbearable for her. Her eyes blinked with tears. Gently, her head shook no.
She reached across the space on the couch to comfort me, patting my leg rhythmically. I felt faint. The room began to spin. I fell into her chest as she continued to now rhythmically pat my shoulder. She supported me as I broke down.
Her voice unwavering, “No Beth, he is not in the hospital. He’s gone.”
He was gone?
He left me without knowing that I had changed my mind?

Our last interaction, me being such a jerk, was now unforgivable.
It hit me like a one, two punch to my stomach. He was gone, my beautiful future stolen from me. My uncaring and inflated behavior was our last interaction. It stood like a headstone marker on his grave.
Her words and my memories pierced through my consciousness like a knife through my heart. The pain was debilitating. I couldn’t breathe.
I felt at the edge of nothingness, completely powerless. I sat there deflated, like a pierced party balloon. I don’t know how long I remained in this state. When I looked up, the sun was no longer shining and the trees outside mirrored my inner storm.

I finally composed myself enough to walk out of her office.
Her secretary smiled at me weakly as I passed down the hall.
It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other; I could barely walk. I found myself at my dorm room. Thankfully, my suitemate returned to her previous muteness.

That was the only thing that returned to normal. Everything and everyone else was different. Night came and left. Day came and turned to night. Life continued around me but I was not a part of it. I felt robotic, disconnected, remote and out of sync with the whole of life around me. I couldn’t tolerate the birds singing or my friends laughing, wherever joy presented itself I turned away. Happiness grated on me like nails on a chalkboard.
I recoiled from life. Spiritless on the inside, I couldn’t even find the energy to fake it on the outside.

The image of her sweater with black marked stains stuck with me for a long time.

I numbly completed my last semester of college, in a fog, unable to concentrate on anything. Everything changed. I couldn’t bear to listen to music, people laughing, or see my friends. And it seemed they avoided me too. I was flat and lifeless; there wasn’t much there for connection.

Entire days went by without me seeing anyone.
I felt desolate, angry with myself, angry with Robbie, lonely and lost.

In the days that passed, I discovered how in his last moments of his precious life Robbie reoriented the direction of the car to save his passenger’s life. A stranger to our community, this sweet young man began to wish he had died instead of Robbie. To his face I said “no, no…don’t think that.” But in my heart I screamed, yes, yes, why do you get to live; why not Robbie. I hated myself for thinking and feeling that way. I couldn’t stop my heart pain. Life was so difficult and challenging. I was walking though water without a regulator, drowning with every breath.
That heroism was so consistently Rob’s character; he was always there at the right time, loyal and dependable when it really mattered.
Why didn’t he save himself? I was coming back for him.

Inconsolable, time passed in starts and spurts, and then it seemed to trickle by. So much of my energy went to managing my grief that little was left to relate to friends or complete my studies.

“Beth, I’m giving you this A grade because of your work here-to-for, not for the work in this paper.” The words written in red ink across the front of my final paper stung, but I was grateful for the understanding of my dearest sociology professor.
“This is sub-par work Beth, but I know this has been a difficult time so I’m giving you an A in the class anyway.” Another painful note in red from my psychology professor, I vacillated between painful prickling and numbness. I was grateful for their understanding. There was nothing inside to pull on for my studies; I was bereft of passion. There was just enough life in me to robotically go through the motions.

For the next six weeks, my senses were in a state of paresthesia; over and over my professors forgave my distracted, poor work.

Working at 20 percent, I limped into graduation.
Two months after Robbie’s death I graduated, said goodbye to my friends and school, and shut the door to my previous life.

Spiritless, I walked into my barren future. I was the skin you see from a cicada, perfectly formed with no life inside.
I filled the space with work.
Astonishingly, my logical, solution-focused father was the dearest comfort to me during that time.
Notes arrived. They slowly filled the empty space in my apartment and heart.
“Hi honey, thinking of you! Dad” staring at me as I brushed my teeth.
“Remember to get out and see friends. Dad” taped to my steering wheel. I taped them to my mirror, and used them as bookmarks. They marked my path back to life.
He had an unerring capacity to simply be present with me in my grief.
“Here’s a picture of Robbie from when he was at the house. Love, Dad” That picture became my velveteen rabbit.

One day on the phone he told me that Robbie (unbeknownst to me) arrived in my hometown earlier in the year that Robbie had died; he asked my father’s blessing to marry me.
The pictures of them together at my house simultaneously felt stabbing and comforting.
He knew I would come around. He knew I loved him.
He had to have known to fly from New York City to Albuquerque, just to see my Dad.

I kept seeing his face at that last meeting, and feeling how out of sync my actions were. It was shocking and triggered intense discomfort. Steadily though, my unconscious kept driving me toward forgiveness. Like a river pushes and pulls fragments down the current, my thoughts drove me toward forgiveness of him, forgiveness of me, forgiveness of God.

My Dad and I shared this deep love for Robbie.
“He was a good man honey. He loved you so much. I’m glad I got to know him. Keep working it will help you stay strong. You can come home any time you want to honey. Love, Dad.”
He loved you so much, stay strong, those words reverberated in my mind. It was one of the best notes I received from my Dad. I kept it in my favorite journal.

I worked by day as a law firm runner in LA and by evening as a residential counselor with developmentally delayed adolescents, teaching them independent-living skills.
I loved running by moonlight through downtown LA.
I savored my time alone. I don’t know if it was punishment or protective but it was healing. It gave me time to think, forgive, and distance myself from the intensity of what had happened. Although I did most things alone, I shared my apartment with my best friend from college. She was mostly gone working on political campaigns. I was mostly gone working. It was a perfect arrangement for healing.

I loved her so much because I didn’t have to explain what was going on with me. She knew. She loved me anyway. Other than Trish, I can’t remember making any friends.
My memories of that time are like snippets of fabric sewn together with travel along the Southern California freeways.
After fourteen months my senses came back.
Trish had to move to another state to follow an important campaign. I decided to move back to Albuquerque.
It seemed that light began to come back into my daily life.
I heard the birds singing and it didn’t make me want to yell stop. Music was inviting. I danced.
Somewhere, I found the space within me to have faith again in the fabric of Life.

Robbie’s death became a defining experience in my life. The importance of love, honesty, forgiveness, and acting in congruence with my true character became the boundaries required for health and freedom in relationship.
Ultimately, I felt my deliverance from my inner prison. Salvation lit me slowly with the realization that he knew I loved him. He saw through everything from beginning to end. I was the last to see the truth and it was too late to enjoy the love waiting for me.

I forgave myself for being immature and unthinking.
I developed an urgent need to be authentic in all my communications, a left over compulsion from that fateful night. It made me a bit intense and probably too serious.

Overtime, I befriended the ebb and flow of life and death.
I came to accept that there was a tapestry of life that I could tap into and flow with but that I had to remain sincere and accept the consequences of my actions.
If I had married Robbie, I may not have become the person I am today, leaving a hole in the fabric of the lives of those whom I have offered healing counsel. That’s how I think about it now. I walk in a state of grace, with a sense of gratefulness for the gifts I developed out of my devastating loss; grateful to have positively affected so many through that loss.

And it was from that knowing I spent my last weeks with my father as he got chemotherapy for end stage pancreatic cancer.


And so here is the first chapter of the book…Working through loss offers deep awareness of the tapestry of life…, how have your traumas elevated your consciousness?  Send me a comment or write one in the space below…in love and light, bg


What if you knew this was your last day, would you change your story?

Here is the beginning to my next book…please tell me what you think in the comment section, or email me through my website,  in love and light, bg

The Path to Grace, my life from 30 thousand feet: “Like the walls of my neighborhood seen from a thousand feet height, my life experiences create a path on the map to my life destiny.”

Chapter One: Who Knew
My last night with Robbie is seared into my heart and mind.
I was feeling bold, invincible; flirting with his friend and ignoring how it might feel to him; feeling free and without a care.
He seemed to take it all in stride. Standing there, his head tilted to one side, leaning on one foot, with that silly Cheshire-cat grin, but I could tell he was hurt underneath that unassuming demeanor.
That was my last image of him: my last verbal exchange, the defining last action in our relationship.
Later that evening, I called his home phone but the line just rang and rang.
The next morning I drove from LA to Phoenix.
He’s okay. We’ll get over it, once I get back. He knows it wasn’t real. He loves me more than anyone ever has…he will forgive me. The thoughts circled in my mind over the long drive.
During that weekend with my best friend I kept seeing his face. It started to bother me, even with all those previous reassuring thoughts on the drive. I had acted out of character for myself, so hurtful and uncaring. It nagged at the back of my brain.
He was a delightful confluence of opposites, brash and thoughtful, overly serious and disarmingly easygoing. He lived hidden in plain sight. His demeanor conveyed no trappings of materialism while his name connected him to a household name trust fund.
The nagging feeling dissolved into a powerful realization: I was avoiding stepping into the role of becoming an adult. It was obvious that we were meant to be together and now I had to take the next step, as he had long ago asked me to do. Finally, I was ready to marry him.
As I drove back, I was so happy. Everything just felt right. With beautiful images of his smiling face, and our future floating through my mind, I knew he would be ecstatic that I had come to my senses.
He is going to be so happy. It was all I could think about the whole way back to Claremont. I felt at peace with my decision to allow the strength of his love to pull me forward toward my destiny.

At my dorm suite I was met with an onslaught of paper messages posted onto my room door requesting me to report directly to the Dean of Student’s Office. My quirky suitemate who never talked with me, stopped what she was doing, looked up, and smiled at me.
How odd! I thought. Reflexively, I smiled back.
“You should go to the Dean’s office before you go to class.”
She just kept standing there staring at me. It was a little unnerving.
I brushed the back of my neck with my hand to smooth out my hair. “Yeah, okay”… I said absentmindedly, wishing she would return to not talking to me. I turned back to my door, barely stepping into my room. I dropped off my bag inside and looked around my room. It felt like something was out of place, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing. I grabbed my notebook for class and started out the door.
All I really wanted to do was find Robbie and tell him my decision. I felt so happy and complete.
“No really, you should go right now.” She was weirdly insistent.
“Yeah, okay. Thanks.” I quickly walked out of the suite relieved to be away from her.

Inside her office my dean gently ushered me into a private room. I had never been in this part of the office before. It was nice, quiet almost, peaceful. I wonder what they use this space for, I thought.

My memory of what followed is more like a set of snapshots then a flowing movie.
She looked sad. She was wearing a fuzzy, white sweater. She invited me to sit on her couch. And then she sat down next to me. Her entire continence was warm and sweet.
Weird… I thought. She is never this nice.
I looked out the window distractedly; it was sunny, the tree leaves were gently swaying as if they were in a dance with the wind.

When I turned my attention back to the Dean, she seemed to be moving in slow motion. It was taking forever for her to say what she wanted from me. I remember feeling irritated with her.
Okay Dean, Let’s get on with it. I am kind of in a hurry here…My mind kept thinking of Robbie and how happy he was going to be. I kept visualizing the image of his face, his Cheshire-cat smile with his head cocked to one side.
Robbie is going to be so happy.
I flashed back to the first time he asked me out. It was just after my boyfriend, Chuck, had broken up with me. There he was at my door.
“Hey, you want to go out.” He smiled that smile, leaning against the door, his shoulder length hair lightly bobbing.
“I thought you were dating Nancy.”
“Not anymore, we just broke up.”
“Oh…um, okay, sure.” I was less than enthusiastic. But it didn’t seem to bother him at all.
Later, that evening I ran into Nancy and she was superbly angry. “Hey Nance, what’s up?” I spoke to her as I passed her on the catwalk.
“Are you going out with Rob?”
“Yeah, he asked me to go to the club. He said you two were broken-up.”
“Oh yeah, we are. As soon as he heard you and Chuck weren’t together he came over to me, and broke-up with me. Turns out he’s been waiting to date you the whole time. I really should be mad at you. I liked him.” She stood there staring at me, trying to look angry, but mostly just looking depressed and a little bored. “I guess that’s just the way it is.”
“Nancy, I’m sorry,” she interrupted me, “Whatever Beth. It figures. I’ll see you later.”

I smiled to myself as I came out of the memory. Robbie always knew we were meant to be together. And as soon as I finish here, I can tell him he was right.
My mind came back to the room and the Dean. I started wishing that I hadn’t listened to my quirky suitemate.
For a moment I started to think I was in trouble.
And then, I felt a little mad. Why is everyone trying to ruin my good feeling about telling Robbie about my decision? What is she doing? I want to get to Robbie’s place before class.
Bits of thoughts swirled in my head as I waited quietly for her to speak. I tried to focus. There is definitely something off about this whole thing. I really wish I had just gone straight to Robbie’s.
I notice the Dean’s lips are moving, but I can’t quite make out what she is saying.
Oh good. Finally she is talking.
Involuntarily, I shivered. She was sitting right next to me, but I couldn’t really understand what she was saying; the words were coming in like an out of tune radio station, they just didn’t make any sense. And then I heard her, sharp and clear…
“Robbie is dead.” “His car went off the road Saturday morning. The police think he was killed instantly.”
The thoughts inside my head blew about me …


What if you knew the act you were taking, the words you were saying was/were going to be the defining action or statement in a situation…would you want to change the story?

There’s more to come and I will share it over the next three months…Hopefully the book will be available in 2016.  It’s a great resource to understand how and why to live mindfully. in love and light, bg