where the writers are

Moment That Everything Changed Forever

Moment That Everything Changed Forever

Death is a disembodied abstraction until one is in its awful physical presence and incarnation. Only then does one confront its ultimate horrifying finality  beyond all human comprehension and realms of meaning. 

The moment that changed my life forever was the sudden, fatal heart attack  in our home of my wife Elaine and soulmate of thirty-five years. My adult son first noticed her slumped over in the bathroom and  urgently called out "Something's  wrong with mom!" That piercing "cry" along with the mental picture of her there and later on the gurney when I had to kiss her pale, lifeless face in a final good-bye have been indelibly etched on my consciousness and very being forever.

All that remains now are  dimming images of what once was. The only stay against this encroaching nothingness is love, perhaps best memorialized in the final lines of Browning's poem "Love Among the Ruins" :  "For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin/Shut them in/With their triumphs and their glories and the rest/Love is best."






2 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

On Death and Dying

Hi Mel. Since we are neighbors I thought I would pass on a little information. Death is a natural progression of life. It is the one thing we can all be assured of from the moment we are born. It is very mysterious and mis-understood. I choose to think of it as a 'new beginning'. I used to be terrified of the subject until a couple of strange things happened to convince me that life actually does continue on.  The chances of you being re-united with your wife are, I believe, quite possible.

     I've never been particularly 'psychic' and I am not some nut that thinks I can talk to the dead. However, I have been very close to someone who has 'passed on' and the experience made me believe in...well...miracles. A few years back my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was discovered in a routine exam. It was barely visible at the time but they started her on an extensive round of chemo to fight the desease.  She was in Switzerland, full of life and only 47. She was a real fighter and she wanted desperately to live. We were very close.

    She fought for her life for four agonizing years, went through several rounds of chemo and a couple of very severe surgeries to disect her bowel and try to remove the 'creeping crud' as she liked to refer to it.  I remember as she neared the end she called for me and I of course made the trip overseas to be with her during her final days. 

     The day before I left I had the strangest dream. She came to me. It was very vivid. We were riding in a van in the country, my brother at the wheel and she and I were in the back. She was very sickly in the dream and could hardly hold her head up. She was sitting behind me with her arms around me and her hands slipped in the pockets of my coat. She was very cold and she was resting her head on my shoulder. I'm not one to usually remember my dreams, but this one was so real and unlike any dream I ever had. I awoke and bawled my eyes out. I thought she had died for sure. I called her husband. Not yet...but she was getting very close. I jumped on a plane that day and headed overseas.

     I was at her bedside the entire last week of her life. She drifted in and out of conciousness. She was on a morphine drip and I thanked God for it. As I watched her over the week it became evident to me that she was drifting in and out of her physical body. She kept focusing on one corner of the room as if there was something there. It was the strangest thing. My mother noticed it as well. It was as if someone...or something was near and 'waiting' for her. She finally slipped into a coma with labored breathing so I convinced my mother to leave her in the capable hands of her husband and we boarded a plane home.

     On arrival home my wife was there to pick us up. One look and I knew that my sister had passed. I was worn out. I went straight home and went to bed. That night something very strange indeed happened to me I will never forget. I was laying in bed...not quite asleep...but not quite awake. I had an apparition. It was my sister. She was at the foot of my bed. I could only see her sihlouette and nothing more. I could not see the features of her face even though she was facing me, only the outline of her and it king of glowed in the dark.  She was 'hovering' at the foot of my bed. I knew instantly it was her. It was 'instinctive'. I remember thinking to myself how good she looked. She was wearing her hair in a style I had never seen her wear it...long and down around her shoulders. I could see the outline of it. I wasn't the least bit 'afraid' but rather I was fully alert by now. I said nothing as she spoke to me, and she spoke at some length. Although I wanted to remember every word the only thing I remember now is that "she was okay...and that my brother and I had been with her for a 'long' time". She was no longer sickly...I remember that. It was the oddest encounter of my life.

     Since then I have several times tried to reach her. Sometimes when I am alone I will call to her hoping to repeat the stunning apparition but to no avail. A few years later something again quite strange happened. It was very early in the morning...5 a.m. or so. I had my brother and his wife visiting me from out of town. We were up early to go on an outing to Orlando for the day and we were sitting around drinking coffee. I was telling them about an odd dream I had just woken from. My father-in-law was calling out to me. It was his voice for sure...clear as a bell. He was saying "Mark...help....I need Jackie and she isn't coming". It was quite odd as I usually do not have such vivid dreams and when I do, I don't necessarily remember them. At the very moment I was telling them about my dream the phone rang. It was mom...Lewis had a heart attack and she was at the hospital. He had collapsed in the bathroom with his back against the door...she was sleeping and didn't find him until she realized he was not laying next to her. She could not get the bathroom door open and had to call 911. They rushed him to the hospital. He was still hanging in there. He died about an hour after we arrived.

     It became very apparent to me that as death approaches we are somehow able to move in and out of our physical body...kind of like testing the water if you will, until we are comfortable with the transition and free to go.  I have a feeling that 'death' is like returning 'home'...very comfortable and soothing. I believe there are those on the other side 'waiting' for us to make this transition. I believe in that instant of death our lives and the meaning of life are instantaneously revealed to us.

    I have told my story to a few people close to me. It helps to know death is an 'ending'...but also very likely a new 'beginning'.  I hope you don't mind me posting this to my blog as it might help someone else dealing with the 'finality' of what we know as 'death'.

....and by the way it's nice to meet you Mel. Hope you don't think I'm getting too personal.

Comment Bubble Tip

Mortality and Infinity


It's indeed "neighborly" of  you to take so much of your time to relate your personal experiences with death. Your prose is so remarkedly articulate and lucid that you come through as a more credible source than usual, especially for paranormal experiences.

As context for understanding my attempts  to deal with my wife's sudden death, you should know that the best I can do in the "faith" area is agnosticism. Like you (your conceptual agility reveals intelligence and wisdom of a person self-educated,  formally educated or both) with an "educated perspective," I am completely at loss for figuring out just how human beings "fit into" the incredibly infinite cosmos in which we find ourselves for this briefest of moments [An Ojibwe poem describes life thus: Our lives are as brief as the flash of the firefly in the night.]

Science, as advanced as it is, certainly hasn't even begun to "unlock" the so-called ultimate reality of all things. The latest discoveries suggest that the atom, once thought to be smallest particle, actually has an indeterminate structure of looped strings  (string theory) whose movement is random and unpredictable.  One source (scientist) even speculated that these loops had the capability of being in more than one place at the same time.  And these loops had other remarkable behaviorial patterns and properties way beyond my comprehension and understanding, as does the entire cosmos itself.  These and other unfathomable mysteries of our existence leave me completely "adrift" as to what to believe and basically without hope that I or human beings, in general, will ever know much about our place in the big picture and will probably never find answers to even such basic questions as "Did something come from nothing?" or "Did something always exist?"  Either possibility is beyond my understanding. 

So, basically, my view is that we just have to live with the reality that we will never know these answers.  My  somewhat autobiographical story "Acer" (posted separately on my home page) raises this issue  symbolically near the end when the main character hears a wailing siren in the distance and realizes that he will never know why it's wailing (the emergency itself) or where it is going.  And not to trivialize the subject, but the main character's confusion in the Japanese bath house is a microcosm of my current confusion in this universe. Fortunately, the character could escape from the bath house  with perhaps a modicum of greater self-knowledge but our only escape from existence is death.

Since you were so personal, I will also be personal in sharing with you that, as stated in my short blog, death simply eludes my comprehension or understanding. During my education, I have, of course, like you, dealt with many of what one  might call "conceptual constructs" in science, art theory and philosophy, to name a few areas. I have been able to "get a handle" on most of them but never on death or our mortality. 

 Of course, the great thing about a faith in a God that created everything and is apparently at the helm of the cosmic "journey" is that then one can   fit death into that conceptual framework and hence no longer have to live plagued with answered mysteries.  As a child, I once had simple religious beliefs picked up from the culture (my family were not church members), but somewhere along the way in my educational and intellectual development those beliefs gradually transformed into mythic constructs at best and "fairy tales" at worst.

I do believe that at the heart of all things there must be some great mysterious force or power at work but I don't think human beings are going to be very successful in discovering what this ultimate reality is, and it is quite likely that we may well go the way of countless species before us (and even whole galaxies before us). We are less than mere ants in the context of the cosmos, and our extinction will be an incredibly insignificant event unnoticed and unrecorded in cosmic history.

This is even more personal than I ever intended at the start; one thing leads to another; so I hope that I have not intruded on your personal space. Reading your blog was, to say the least, a most "therapeutic" experience for me.  If I were not a skeptic of paranormal phenomena, I might think that you were sent to me.  Your blog helped  me to conceptualize some of my own inner musings (mostly in a nebulous state) and just writing this response to you has been an invaluable experience on my road to self-understanding.  So thank you so much for even taking the time to notice my blog on death and for sharing your experiences with me. I live with a sort of fatalism in the saying "Whatever will be, will be," as captured in the lines below by the poet Theodore Roethke, who, himself, lived a very troubled life that I can readily identify with*********************************************************             

This shaking keeps me steady.  I should know.

What falls away is always. And is near.

I wake to sleep and take my waking slow

I learn by going where I have to go.