Setting the Stage
In 1995-96, I spent a year taking care of my 84 year old father after he had a series of debilitating strokes. He was paralyzed at first on the left side and lost his speech, but never his mind. Over the course of the year, he learned to walk and talk anew, with my help 3-4 days a week. It was an amazing year for me – I think the best of my life.
My father and I had been somewhat estranged for most of my adult life. He had never understood (or approved of) my decison in my twenties to divorce or go to law school. As late as 1988, when I was 42 and joined my husband in California where he had taken a very good job, Daddy had said “I don’t understand why she has to go out to California.”
But as I helped him regain his speech and walking, fixed his meals, watched baseball with him (he was a big Braves fan), helped him with crossword puzzles, and listened with him to his favorite music and books on tape, we became very close. Then of course over the last few months when he started to go down again, managing the three other caretakers we needed for him, I felt like I was somewhat living his dying process with him. I was with him at the end and as his body withered, I could feel myself going with him, into his pillow, into death.
I don’t know how many others have experienced something similar at the loss of a close one, but I feel like I lived my father’s death with him – and then I came back, but was forever changed by the experience. (I still feel that ability to be in more than one place at a time, to get outside my body and let my mind take me wherever I want to go, not bound by space and time, to go completely through something, and be on the other side. The first time I described it to a friend in the first weeks after my father’s death was as the ability to feel that I was on the other side of a wall, that I had gone through the wall, at the same time that I was there on the other side talking with her.)
For some time after Daddy’s death, I felt very close to the spirit world. I had a vivid visit from my father the night he died. Over the next several years, I took a further hiatus from practicing law and delved into a more mystical world. I joined with some women friends, most of whom are artists, in weekly dream sharings and interpretation.
For that period of time I felt that I was thinking in spirals, not in the logical, square boxes of a lawyer. I had more vivid dreams and messages that began to appear to me in the weekly Friends’ meeting we had been attending for years.