Gabrielle was looking for plates and cutlery in Kathleen’s kitchen. Although slightly uncomfortable about checking out the content of another woman’s cupboards, she acknowledged that Kathleen wouldn’t mind.
As she found what she was looking for, she hesitated at taking out two or three plates. Should she energetically include Kathleen in the Chinese dinner she was about to share with Michael? She quickly made up her mind and neatly arranged the contents of take-away boxes on two plates. Once again she acknowledged that, although Kathleen was physically present, offering her food seemed incongruous.
Just as she was going to call him in, Michael walked into the family room. “Hi Kath,” he said lightly as he turned towards his old friend, “Would you like a glass of chardonnay with us?” As expected, he didn’t get an answer. Although Kathleen was going to share their meal, she wasn’t hungry, she wasn’t thirsty and she wasn’t talking. She wasn’t breathing either.
Only love and a gentle farewell were her reasons for being present.
Kathleen was dead, her petite figure lying in a white coffin, looking peaceful and happy. Under her black wig, her pale face looked younger than she had for years, almost smiling, and her smooth forehead now free of the frowns her friends knew so well.
As Gabrielle and Michael settled next to her with their dinner and a glass of wine, they commented on how lovely she looked. Little did they know that this last meal with their old friend would be followed by a most extraordinary spiritual experience.
It certainly was an unusual dinner by candlelight, yet most details had been planned for several weeks. Only the exact date and time, as well as the guests who would attend it were left to a higher power.
Kathleen was in her mid-fifties and she had died the night before after suffering from cancer for three long years. During her illness she had been torn between fear and love, the love of her family and friends and a deep feeling of being alone in her pain. Love, rejection and betrayal kept fighting for space in her consciousness.
Her fear of dying prompted her to oscillate between traditional medical treatment for cancer and all the alternative methods she could find. Following them all and trusting none, she tried to reconcile conflicting values. She so much wanted to please others that she found it hard to honour her own beliefs.
So she did it all. And as time went by, she lost her hair. Then she lost more and more weight, more and more energy. Slowly her will to live gave way to a willingness to die.
One night, shortly before Christmas, she finally surrendered. She accepted that she was dying. At that stage, Michael had moved in with her so she could stay in her house. During the day she was taken care of by her family as well as dedicated doctors and nurses who visited on a daily basis, and Michael looked after her at night.
And now, it was February and Kathleen was gone. As Gabrielle and Michael toasted her and lovingly wished her a good journey to the light, they talked about those past few months, how their personal relationship had blossomed despite the strain put on Michael by his dying friend. He talked of his empathy for young mothers deprived of sleep. He too had found it hard to get up two or three times a night to help another helpless human being. He admitted to feeling exhausted as mixed tears of grief and relief rolled down his face.
After finishing their meal, Gabrielle and Michael stayed with Kathleen’s body in the family room. Although she had died in hospital, her express wish had been to be embalmed and returned to her home as soon as possible. She had asked to be given three days to take leave of this plane in a peaceful and loving way. She wanted friends and family to have a chance to say their goodbye face to face before her cremation.
Like the perfect hostess she had always been, she carefully planned every detail of her last farewell party, as well as her funeral. She chose her coffin and her clothes, she selected the music she wanted played, she ordered her favourite incense and stocked up on gourmet finger foods.
She repeatedly asked Michael to promise just one last thing: that her wig would be properly fitted on her bald head at all times, should someone inadvertently move it around.
And now her time had come. She had died peacefully the night before, surrounded by her children. After embalmment, her body had been returned home and she looked serene and beautiful, wig straight. There were white flowers and lit candles in every room, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ was playing on repeat in the background and the delicate smell of top quality incense added to the peaceful atmosphere of her terrace house.
As Michael and Gabrielle held the space, taking turns in reading passages of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying to her, they enjoyed the sacredness of this quiet moment. They knew that the next few days and weeks would be busy for Michael. Starting from tomorrow, there would be streams of visitors, many of them coming from interstate. Soon after the funeral, he would have to attend to his duties as executor of Kath’s last will. He would also need to move out.
Although Michael and Gabrielle had only known each other for a few months, that evening for the first time they talked of sharing their life with each other. In death’s company, there’s no space for trivial matters, and they were well aware of it.
Shortly after nine o’clock, as the room got darker despite the many candles, Gabrielle felt a subtle change of energy around them. They were both tired and had been enjoying a comfortable silence for a while, eyes closed, cuddling up on the sofa. Kathleen also looked asleep in her white coffin which was placed in front of them on the coffee table.
Suddenly Gabrielle jumped up. “Wow… can you see what I see?” she asked in a whisper. “Oh, my God…” was the only answer as he opened his eyes. “Tell me what you see…” she insisted. A long silence followed as they both stared at Kathleen’s upper body. This is all they could see as she was covered with a starched white linen material from the waist down.
“There is a blue light coming out of her,” he finally said. This confirmed what Gabrielle could also clearly see. A bright blue incandescent light now shone all around Kathleen’s head and shoulders, extending about 5cm from her body. They noticed that her hands and the white linen covering her belly and legs also had a faint blue tinge. This emanation was noticeable although not nearly as bright as around the upper body.
They were both mesmerised. They moved around the room. To their surprise, they could see Kathleen’s energy field from every angle, as clearly as they would notice a distant rainbow. Only it wasn’t a rainbow and it wasn’t distant. It was a shimmering electric blue vibration emitted from a dead body right in front of them. The blue light changed a little from moment to moment, like minute bubbles of blue sky dancing in ether, with slight variations in hue and intensity.
Although at times they both had been able to see auras as white light, they had never witnessed anything like it. The sacredness of the moment rendered them speechless.
Michael slowly went to the sound system and put Cecilia’s version of ‘Amazing Grace’ on repeat. It used to be Kath’s favourite song, accompanied by the sounds of whales and dolphins.
Holding hands, standing at Kathleen’s feet, they silently encouraged her to go to the light. After a few minutes, the outer layer of blue light slowly turned to pink. A thin brilliant layer of fuchsia pink now started vibrating under their gaze. “How beautiful…” he whispered, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Timelessness embraced them.
And then the doorbell rang. They both nearly jumped out of their skin. This sound was so unexpected and invasive that they were tempted to ignore it. It rang again.
Eventually Michael opened the front door. Sharon, an old friend of Kathleen, was standing there, tense and tired. She had just arrived from interstate.
After a few brief introductions, the three of them silently made their way to the family room. A new sight awaited them there: Kathleen’s energy field was now golden yellow. It then turned to white and within minutes slowly faded away to nothing. Sharon, Michael and Gabrielle stood there for a while longer, lost in thought, aware that Kathleen’s body and soul had now parted forever.
Gabrielle suddenly understood the true meaning of healing; healing as spiritual wholeness, a state of being that has nothing to do with physical wellness. She grasped that, although Kathleen’s body had died, she had in fact healed herself in the past few weeks. She had made peace with God, with her self and with those close to her. She had died spiritually whole, healed, merging with the radiance they had just briefly witnessed.
“She died exactly 24 hours ago”, Michael finally remarked quietly, “at 9pm last night her body died in peace. I’m so grateful her soul could also leave surrounded by love… Thank you God.”
Another long silence followed.
“Goodbye Kath.” It was Michael again. “Goodbye my friend… Until we meet again.”
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