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, June 27, 2018

Safe Journeys, Traveller

On April 11, 2018 I wrote My Grandma Pat is Dying which involved how I used my spiritual practice. Seven days later my mom messaged me to say that it wouldn’t be long. I lit my altar and called the waiting ancestors back in.

Parents of my grandmother
Margaret Burke & Robert Art.
Grandparents of my grandmother
Eliza Conners & Frank Burke.
Katherine Pils & George Art.
Great-grandparents of my grandmother
Mary Dowd & David Conners.
Thomas & Ellen Burke.
John Pils & Mary Smith.
Adam Art & Ana Catherine Blume.
Great-great-grandparents of my grandmother
Barney Dowd.
Betsey (uknown, married) Conners.
Ann (unknown, married) Burke.

I opened the way. I told her it was time. When she was ready she could let go.

But she wouldn’t. I was standing in front of my ancestor altar with one foot in this world and one foot in her limbo. I saw her, hanging on to an almost translucent thread. We were in motion, being pulled to the right. She stared at me, her left arm curled up around an empty space.


Her cat.

I told her Bella would be fine. I promised we’d find her the right home.

Fuck. Those oaths you have to keep.

She relaxed. And she was gone. I was back in my room in front of my ancestor altar. I bent down to check my messages and as I watched, in Ethernet real time, my mom let me know her mother was gone.

I surprised myself by bursting into tears.

I was sad but wasn’t grief. I didn’t know her well enough for it to be sorrow. But it was sadness. Sad for my mother. Sad for the day I will lose my mother that I know will come. Sad for the years of getting to know the woman-my-grandma-had-become I won’t get. Because she changed at the end. I was sad  for the relationship I won’t get to have with her. The sadness was real. Just greater than I expected.

I didn’t cry again.

A few weeks later I attended an outdoor gathering where I went to a Grief Ritual. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was grieving but every cell of my body felt this pull to go. I felt I needed to go. So I did.

I was given a moment to speak to her one last time. And I did. I let two things be true. I wish she’d been able to make different choices. And I loved her. I almost qualified that with ‘anyway’ but I took a breath and held that word in.

She was one of my grandmothers. I knew of her growing up if I didn’t know her. She was Christmas Eve after-dinner and before-santa. There is a part of my heart that the shadow of her lives in. I have always carried her with me, imperfections and all. And I feel her loss.

In her last incarnation she adopted a cat and made friends with a local deer and their family. They would come to her ground level window and look for her. She would cut up apples and take them outside. The deer would let her walk among their young to set the apples on the ground. I wonder if they know what happened to her. I wonder if they understand what an empty apartment means.

I wonder who’s feeding them now.

The last time I saw her she gave me a book she said was too complicated for her—there were more than five characters and she couldn’t keep them straight. It’s not bad. I started reading it again when she got sick as a means of connecting in to her energy, to her heartbeat. I stopped reading when she died. It’s the last thing she ever gave me in a life where she didn’t give me many things… although she did give me a lot of my Nancy Drew Mysteries. I forgot about that until I was writing this. That’s something, too. They meant everything to me.

But I stopped reading. I put a bookmark in between the pages. It’s the last thing she will ever give me.

I’ll sit with that and set the book aside for now.

At the end of the gathering I was standing in the outdoor Ancestor Shrine and a friend was leading us through a meditation to connect with an ancestor. I opened myself to whoever wished to come through.

I almost audibly gasped.

For a moment I got a picture in my head. It’s almost always a similar one when I see him. Some forest glade, thick old trees and part of a rustic wooden fence. Mop of thick hair. Tall. Smiling. This was my German Guy. I realized in that second that he came to me through my Grandma’s family line. I also, instantaneously, felt the reassurance that she had crossed over.

Something like ‘we got her.’ But in German.

Hail to the Ancestors. 
Safe journeys, Traveller.
Bye Grandma.
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