(How I learned Love is real...and death is not.)
Dedicated to everyone who has experienced loss or lives in fear of death, in memory of Gene's nephew, Justin, who took his own life at the young age of 14 at the end of September, 2004 - and then came back to deliver a message of peace.
Almost a week before Justin died
I wasn't sleeping very well,
I had no idea why.
My nightmares kept coming back…
Night after night-
Each worse than the last.
As my important dreams usually do
These came in a set of three
That makes me think they may be true.
The first dream was short
I was in an airplane of some sort
Uniformed men were busy
hiding some illicit cargo
In the seats, in the floor.
I’m not quite sure
How I knew it
But I knew
It had all been done before.
The next night my dream
Was more down to earth
I was in a library
In a school
I’m not sure how I knew it
But something told me
Using drugs was the rule
Not the exception
Perhaps because drugs are now considered
Part of first grade education.
On night three, I was in a house
Where torture was being performed
In a strange sad world
In which violence was the norm
And peace was quaint
A nice thought to consider,
And as rare as a saint.
I knew something must be wrong,
The violence had become so loud and strong…
I knew I had to say “so long”!
I made my mind up to leave
I had to escape it all.
I ran upstairs blind with fear
I ran right into a woman in the hall,
She knew me, but I had never seen her face.
She didn’t want me to go – so she
Squeezed me like a vice.
Until I told her what she needed to hear…
…and lifted my kitten into my arms,
and RAN away,
Before I could hear what she’d try to say.
I ran blindly through a door,
across a room with a dull wood-grain floor,
Without a second thought,
Saw a window - and
jumped right out!
To the ground down below,
Tumbling and sliding
In the cold, wet snow.
Without thinking I raced
Blind with fear yet somehow slow
So my retreating footsteps wouldn’t show…
I placed my feet one by one
Within the icy boot prints
And I was halfway gone before I realized
They were the footprints of the man inside
(the one who’d made me run and hide,
Even though it was freezing cold outside…)
I felt myself, unlike myself, calmly decide
“I’ll just stay right here with my kitten
in these bushes and wait until its safe to go…”
How long that would take, I guess I’ll never know…
Because right at that moment,
I heard a noise.
My eyes opened wide,
I was instantly transported…
From a frozen nightmare hiding place,
To our warm dry bed…your smiling face…
Bringing me back from the darkness
and handing me
My first cup of coffee,
warm and sweet…
Confused at first I hid my head
Under my pillow.
Who am I? Where was I? How’d I get here?
Was that dream really just in my head?
Or was it saying something important
Is that why I felt so much dread?
No doubt about it,
time to start a brand new Day…
The anchorman appeared
On the TV screen looking overjoyed to say
something I took as just plain bad news
awful and MEAN:
“Winter is almost here
And my oh my
Just in time!
The price of heating oil is
gonna go sky high!”
So I did what came naturally,
And started to cry.
My oh my.
With Coffee mug in hand, in the TV’s glow
I wondered why this violence
In my dreams had seemed to grow…
Getting louder and clearer
Scene by scene, three nights in a row…
Each day I woke up feeling even more blue,
As my dreams told me there was
Something important I should do…
[have your dreams told you
something that seemed important too?
What’s the message?
Will you tell me?
Maybe if we compare notes
We’ll find out our dreams are quite the same…
Showing us each what we must do
To make our choice of which
dreams we make come true…
Choosing new dreams of love,
over nightmares created by our fear!]
I turned on a cartoon
To try and calm my nerves
But the music made me feel
Like I was going berserk
And the characters were at war
Some game they were fighting for
Beating, shooting, killing everyone in sight
I turned off the TV and knew
My work had just begun.
It is true
In America now,
Violence passes for fun.
As the darkest dream faded,
I started to feel less jaded
And remembered earlier messages
From dreams more mild.
They reminded me to live
with the heart of a child…
To be happy and love everything I see,
just as it is, ‘cause it IS ME, you see!”
Play with dogs and laugh and sing
Don’t worry over money, clothes or diamond rings.
In that moment that is all we really know…
In that moment that is all we really need…
In that moment that is where heaven waits…
When we cease to think and plan,
As if we’ve figured it all out,
When we let our fears go and
Let the love pour out….
Expect nothing but the best then
wait for something even better..
Pay attention very closely to every single clue
until you finally get the proof you need…
That life is so much more than what we see…
It’s in the details of life that catch us by surprise
Where God can simply “BE”.
I’m so glad I remembered, just in time,
Now the rest of the day would be just fine…
I laughed and hugged our silly dog, Hutch,
and told Gene out loud how
it wouldn’t be that much
If “instead of just one dog,
we could somehow have THREE…
One could sleep on your side, and one could sleep by me,
And one could keep our feet warm
We’d all keep warm all winter long no matter what
Even if we can’t afford to pay for oil for heat.
We’d get one dog who is a girl of course,
The other will be little, black and white
And we could even name him Starski!
And say that’s Polish for star
And Hutch would be happier and by far,
hearing the sound of those extra furry feet…
Wouldn’t THREE dogs
make this family complete?”
And we laughed,
Making the best of the news.
On the day we think Justin died,
we knew something was very wrong
But we didn’t know what.
When Gene got goosebumps
up and down his arms,
We knew something wasn’t right,
But we didn’t know what.
At least not for a few more days,
Until Friday when the call finally came.
Colleen called us Friday morning
leaving a voicemail strained by tears
“Justin passed away,” she cried.
Could her brother please come home?
I tried to call back right away
But no one answered -
Gene was at work without a phone
So I sat home that day alone
And cried and cried, not knowing what to say.
Then I found myself asking Justin how he had died,
And what he told me then I won’t repeat here.
Let’s just say I had a hunch and it was right.
When Gene found out he cried.
It’s the first time I’ve seen him cry!
We packed our bags
Hopped in the car and
started to drive.
First Walk: Trouble
Almost a week after Justin died
We finally made it to Colleen’s side.
It was Monday night
And the little black dog they called “Trouble”
Let me know he’d like to go outside…
So I grabbed his leash,
And let him lead the way
Out the front door,
Down the sidewalk
then turned left…
a few steps up the hill,
A quiet strong voice
Passed silently through my head…
“Tell Mom I’m sorry I kicked her flowers…”
I came to a standstill,
And said “What the heck was that” when suddenly,
I heard those words again,
And felt a small invisible hand squeeze mine
And I knew it was Justin
and he wanted to say,
“Don’t worry about me, I’m ok!”
I took Trouble back inside
A little more stunned
A little more joyful
Than I had imagined I could be…
And Althea said “its my turn!”
So I put the leash on her collar
And walked her next
Just the stars following overhead
When I took Althea back in
Hutch said “now me.”
I just didn’t know if I could handle all three
At one time.
So I walked them one by one.
It was a lot of work
But it needed to be done.
So I guess
While I was first walking Trouble
that was the instant,
I almost knew for sure
that death is a lie…
I didn’t understand
Exactly what had happened or why
So I tried to ignore it, then
fought it some more,
before I told anyone at all.
The next day I told Gene and
I asked him if I should tell her,
He said “no way, they’ll think your crazy,
Don’t say anything, ok?”
So I waited one more day.
No matter where I was I kept hearing that line,
Like when a song I can’t forget
keeps re-playing in my mind…
The second night I took all three dogs for a walk
Each one had a leash and
We didn’t make it very far
But they made a braid of their leashes
In no time flat.
It was hard
but in a silly way,
I laughed as they dragged me
three different ways.
Only catching me in their wild snare
We didn’t cover much distance
But I think I laughed at them
More than they laughed at me
But I’m not sure.
This wasn’t too bad.
Still I waited one more day,
Until the funeral was behind us.
It was there that my confidence grew,
Through our tears and our pain
I got a glimpse of the Truth!
And I’ll never be the same.
I owe it all to the story
That Tom so eloquently shared – because
his story was a lot like MINE!
He felt Justin appear in his car one day
And was given a message he was asked to relay,
“Tell Mom, I love her dearly…”
Justin told him, oh so clearly…
And now here was Tom telling all of us,
As if it were as normal as riding a bus…
I guess that story was a miracle for me,
Made me finally believe
what I thought I heard
Later on, back at the house,
I saw Colleen sitting alone on the porch,
I knew I had to risk it and tell her right away…
I wasn’t really sure what to say…
Nothings ever happened to me quite this way…
So I said, don’t think I’m crazy but
does this mean anything to you? I’ve been struggling for 48 hours,
to find some way to make sense of this,
and Tom’s story made me feel normal somehow…
I was out here walking with Trouble the other night,
And I felt a presence in my heart
And I knew, without knowing how, that it was Justin…
And Justin said
“Tell Mom I’m sorry I kicked her flowers…”
Those words didn’t make much sense,
And I’ve been worried about when and how
and whether to tell you
ever since…he said,
“Tell Mom I’m sorry I kicked her flowers…”
Colleen’s jaw just dropped,
As she looked me in the eye and said
“No one but me and Justin knew about THAT…”
He’d gotten really mad one day
and being a highly skilled black belt in karate
He’d kicked her flowers right out of the ground,
They were her flowers from mother’s day!
And now that he was gone,
he wanted her to know he didn’t mean it,
That he got mad and did the damage
before he even knew it,
He didn’t want her to remember him angry…
He wanted her to remember – he loved her dearly.
The night after the funeral,
After delivering Justin’s message at last
I walked three dogs again.
This time we left the leashes in the house.
We walked through the shadows
Like a casual pack
Justin made it clear
He’d be so much happier
If his dogs stayed together
Someplace where they’d be loved
Gene felt that vibe too…
We didn’t need to debate.
We remembered my wish,
Here were the two extra dogs
We had just talked about the week before.
And somehow we knew
Justin had been checking in with us
To see if we’d take his dogs in together
Before he could go,
He had to know.
We loaded all three dogs up in our car
And drove them home.
Two weeks after Justin died,
He came back once again to my left side,
And said there’s more she needs to know,
Won’t you tell her for me please?”
But I refused, and told Justin,
“This is something she must hear from YOU….
No matter what it takes, you can do it if you try,
Please, Justin, tell her yourself – so she’ll Know too.
Tell her so she’ll really know what is TRUE.
And so a week later I got the urge to call her back…
And she said, “I have a story to tell you when I see you!”
I got excited and said, don’t wait just tell me now….
That’s when she told me about her first sweatlodge
And about how, after that experience of a lifetime,
Justin came for a visit and did exactly what I’d asked –
He spoke to her and answered
Those questions that seemed impossible to know…
how, when, where, what, and why –
I’ll let her share that story, with you herself,
when her eyes have had time to dry.
For now she needs to cry…
To try and understand why…
To find a million things she should have changed,
Or ways the entire world must be rearranged,
Even though it won’t bring his body back,
His spirit is there – by her side,
Helping her through this very difficult ride,
And he’s here with me as well….
Helping me keep on moving forward
Even though I’d rather curl up and hide.
Forgetting to Remember
Sometimes, I still let myself pretend,
That this would be easier if I ignored it all
Until just after this life ends….
But then I see,
That’s not the way God intended life to be…
Struggling to live within the confines of our minds,
feeling lost and alone, as time unwinds,
Living as if the universe depends on what we DO,
When all that really matters
is how much LOVE we let Shine Through…
While we’re STILL HERE…
Where everything hurts
and we feel we can’t go on
Where we fear death and everything else
although all we need to fear is fear, itself.
Because, as I’ve learned – death is not real.
Our soul is the part of us that can feel and heal,
The magic that we’ve lost for so very long,
Isn’t buried underground or hidden in some ancient song,
It’s closer than we’ve ever dreamed,
Inside our hearts and every cell,
It’s the magnetic energy that leaves us
when this ‘life’ ends…
It’s the only part that lasts forever,
Yet the one we rarely show our friends.
A soul is not something to be ignored all our lives
To be separated at birth and locked up far away,
Until we face our death all alone one day,
and realize we’ve missed out on the sweetest truth of all…
We’ve somehow forgotten that our soul is in control,
Like a perfect friend,
To guide us gently to the truth…
The truth we all know, at some point in our youth,
The truth we forget when no one speaks it, out loud.
The truth we’ll struggle to find,
though we forget where to seek it.
The truth I don’t even need to explain.
You know it like you know the sun will dry the rain,
You know it like you know there is more to life than pain,
You know it like you know there is much more we can be,
If we could only just remember the key
to “life and liberty”
Isn’t about pursuing happiness
In every nook and cranny outside of us
Hoping we can drive a better car next year,
Or get a big raise so we can buy even more
It’s up to every person to decide when they’ve had enough
Of playing the wrong game,
With the wrong rules,
Taking all the wrong tests in all the wrong schools,
Going places, moving up, running in circles,
While our debts pile up.
And we keep needing more, to fill that place inside
that hasn’t been filled by anything yet,
no matter how hard we try
But we try and try again
because we’ve forgotten what we’ve left
When we closed our hearts…and our Eye
When we’ve fallen so completely for the Lie
And no matter how hard we try it keeps getting worse…
That’s because this isn’t something we can rehearse
We’ve just gotta go through, day by day,
And try a little harder, to feel the power of Love
Learn to use it together to create the peace we seek,
To erase the fear that keeps us going back…
To travel human history’s well worn track…
To make us FREE.
This is the secret they’ve been trying to keep…
Since someone uncovered the truth
that was buried down deep…
They’ve kept the truth hidden so long,
Even they don’t remember enough
To know what’s going wrong!
But that’s the good news…
once we know its even possible to look
For more than what can be written in a book,
Then there is no more going back,
And as one of us finds a new track,
We can reach out a hand,
help a friend see the truth for themselves,
And one by one
we’ll wake up,
See the light overflowing our cup,
And we’ll finally understand
what the golden Rule
Love your neighbor as yourself
because its true…he IS you!
If you cannot trust yourself,
You’ve already failed
To take part in the universal law
That connects us all through our Light,
And while you say you long for peace,
You’ll end up in fight after fight,
Because you see…
your neighbor will reflect fear back to you,
Until you realize the first thing you must do
Is close your eyes and look within
Find the eye that is invisible to ‘Sin’
Open the heart to let Love finally begin
To melt away the last residue of fear
Like the sun melting fog to make things clear.
The truth is
Justin seems to have died,
In our minds.
Yet in our hearts,
He’s still alive…
He just wants us all to know
We can all be more alive,
Right here and now,
Long before our bodies die…
we just need more LOVE, that’s all!
Forget about believing,
Faith just keeps you going until you learn to let go…
Of what you believe
just long enough
to allow yourself to KNOW
What really IS.
Justin just wants me to tell you,
What you know you already KNOW…
just stop pretending you don’t remember,
and learn to let LOVE FLOW.
It won’t take much,
Just remember what you Already Know.
Just forget everything you’ve learned that isn’t true.
Don’t waste a moment in anger –
that’s the only thing regretful.
Don’t Judge yourself, please!
You’re the only one who WILL judge you after all…
So Just love yourself, please!
You’re the only one who CAN, until you do…
Once you’ve done that simple task
You’ll see miracles too…
Life can be so much more - let it.
Just be aware
Of your light
And your dreams
And your signs
From Bliss, for Colleen and All / 2004
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