Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Experiencing Death I: The Unborn Baby

Wherever we find our feet on the path we choose for ourselves, we can find multiple moments that stand out as events that helped direct us to where we are and who we have become. I’m not sure that I would have chosen to do spirit work. I have always had an odd fascination with horror movies, movie monsters, Halloween, haunted houses, cemeteries and death, but not more than others. I have always been drawn towards the unknown. Still, I would not have foreseen that I would be doing the spiritual work that I do.
Looking back, I can see the flagstones of my path as they appeared before me or, at times, were laid down by me. I wanted to share the moments that altered or clarified my beliefs, where death awakened me to its mysteries. Sometimes, in figuring out where you’re going, it’s helpful to reflect on where you’ve been. Every month I will share another point in my life’s journey that redefined what I thought I knew of death and led the way to where I am now. It is death that brought me to my interactions with the spirit world, and it is the spirit world that has helped my understanding of death evolve and widen.
The first moment I awakened to the idea of death is a simple one. When I was a small child, a neighbor across the way was pregnant. It was the first new baby to join our little community that I had a part in experiencing. I watched as her belly grew and I was amazed and terrified at the notion that there was something alive inside.
I have a memory that is more a crisp emotional one than tangible one, that touches the edges of my skin. My mom sat us down in the living room on the shaggy green couch against the illustrated paneling. I remember her arm around me, hugging me tightly in a way that almost scared me. I could feel an emotion from her I had never felt before. She wanted us to know that our neighbor had lost her baby.
I didn’t quite understand what she meant by “lost.” I know I was young enough that I thought it only meant “misplaced.” I wasn’t familiar with loss yet. My mom said it was a sad thing and that it was sadder still for our neighbor and we had to take care and remember not to ask about the baby. That was important.
Years later, the same neighbor finally had her little girl. I remember watching her belly get bigger and noted how people seemed to be more cautious about congratulating her. They were waiting. And there was a moment where everyone seemed pretty satisfied that the baby was on its way.
I waited. After the baby was born I watched her grow, like a ghost, an echo of the one who-might-have-been. It was the first moment I remember wondering if the soul of the baby that didn’t make it came back into this new baby. Or was that other soul in a body somewhere else, on the other side of the world and this one was new?  
My introduction to death started as simply as learning that it occurs, like seeing a door in a room for the first time, only to realize it had always been there. Death happens. It comes to everyone and it can come without warning. Only sometimes, like with the baby, it whispers in an echo preceding first breath. With the fear of an ending came a grateful reminder of how precious a gift living is. Every death reminds us to remember that we are live breathing beings.


  1. Wow honey, that is such a hard one to explain, but we didn't want any one asking Mary any thing. So you realize that baby is married now? Love

  2. I think death is always hard to explain to children. It's one of the thoughts that prompted this thread... even if we explain the best we can, children's brains can't yet perceive the way we do. I can't think of a way I would have exlained that situation better than you did.

    I was so surprised when I was older and I learned how often women miscarry, and I always think back to that memory. I can't imagine the pain for the parents who go through such a loss.


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