Twice in my life I have witnessed the miraculous first breaths of our daughters, from the depths of my protective womb into an uncertain world. My daughter’s birth days were as divergent as could be, but both are so strong in my memory for immediate recall that movie- like scenes are indelibly imprinted forever. What remains, however, as the most sacred experience of my life, was having the privilege to hold in my own breath as I saw my only sibling, my older sister Geri’s, last breath. I have never talked about it, as I felt its power was such a forceful moment of both letting go and welcoming- of transitioning yet in a single second also a leaving behind.
Geri knew of my intuitive, psychic, awakening experiences some years before this day, and her fascination with the stories I felt comfortable enough to share, were met with encouragement I sorely needed. I remained the greatest skeptic as the recipient of the messages and affirmations I was receiving daily until a trusted medium told me, “you need to stop the false humility.” She explained that being able to step into this gift had less to do with me, and everything to do with a divine choosing. I was simply a channel that I could tap into, but I should not continue the “who me?” position I had been taking.
It was organic for me to feel this way. Most of my life before this breaking open, though full of strong intuition and serendipitous occurrences, was not spent seeing words, symbols or hearing them in the person’s voice, that would speak of people’s past, present moments or future events, (validated later by them). Prior to this, I had never received a message from a loved one who had passed on either for myself or anyone else. It has been a painful process both physically and emotionally. In a development class I joined to tap further into this odyssey, our guide and mentor told us: “you can’t help heal others until you heal yourself.”
Since stepping into the truth of my life, and welcoming the symphony of spirit all around me, it has only opened this portal even more. As Geri stared down leukemia with bravery, acceptance and resilience, it stunned me deeply to see such strength, and whatever gift I felt was emerging in me dwarfed in comparison to this meteor that had hit our family. Over time, though, I began to realize that without initiation, messages would come in during my meditations about the state of Geri’s health or events that would be occurring. It was impossible to describe the agony of remaining a positive advocate for her in communicating with many health care professionals using my deepest intuition to ask the right questions to further her comfort or progress, while also possessing information that belied long-term survival. I stayed firmly rooted in the forward-moving hope and hand’s on commitment to her healing, but I was often seared with the content of my messages nagging at the center of my heart.
When I arrived in Minnesota after Geri endured a surgery to address bleeding in her brain, the walls of protection around my empathic wiring crumbled. The images of her attempt to recover in that hospital, amidst constant prodding of her body, insertion of electrodes in her skull to detect possible seizures, endless questions about who the President of the United States was to test her acuity were numbing. I could feel both her fight and resignation; her will to break out of the hospital in her gown at any opportunity combined with an exhaustion to close her eyes and just sleep. What more could be expected of her?
As days went on we were able to share some chats and even laughs while watching our beloved Green Bay Packers, where Geri kept saying: “Are they playing in slow motion?” She was present and yet the lack of feeling on one side of her body led the neurologist to decide a second brain surgery was necessary. Incredulous as we were that she could outlast yet another blow to her equilibrium, we agreed that after risk assessment with her doctor, her procedure would be scheduled for the next day. A single moment in time can truly feel like a lifetime. In three words, my bold sister, sitting up in her bed on the eve of the dreaded surgery, lifting a single index finger before I left the room, said: “we are one.”
The next morning after my meditation, a doctor called to say the surgery had been canceled. The leukemia side of her complex medical scenario had nudged out any realistic option to do surgery; the risks were too high as her blood count had plummeted overnight. This is the time when you realize you have either been under water during the entire healthcare nightmare and the doctor’s information is a relentless search for a breath of air, or you have stopped breathing and the plunge downward into the depths of the sea has only intensified. For me, I found some level of peace in staying under water as decisions had to be made, and I could not gasp for air- I had to think clearly and float along.
As Geri succumbed to the comfort measures enlisted as part of her care, and we adjusted to her non-responsive reality of what would ultimately be the dying process, time stood still. Spirit was present through countless messages affirmed to me later; it was a watershed of believing what I had so frequently doubted perhaps because I felt I was supposed to. It was still foreign to experience this, so I refuted its weight. I ay in the bed beside Geri, and I stood gazing at her face to preserve it forever. She possessed a heightened beauty, her skin glowing at times and a peaceful look and presence which was wonderful to see during such a surreal time. It was the opposite of frightening; it was a full measure of tranquility as though the light that had enveloped her was so great it emanated out around her.
October 20, 2015, as the afternoon wore on, an unspoken knowing encompassed the room where nurses checked in sporadically and I sat as vigilant as a shield guarding a treasure I was in no way ready to release. Almost imperceptibly without grandstanding or gasp, my protector and big sister, breathed in deeply, calling in the beacon that would guide her onward with no need to exhale. It was so subtle and yet it was omnipresence, energy flowing endlessly, and my grief sat for a moment as she comforted me with this ease, willing me to stand for a moment to receive this gift, and now be as bold as she had been so many times before. I willed myself to be so.