A Grief of Angels

                                                 

When I returned from Tibet to Kathmandu I was very tired and needed to rest in my hotel. I took the lift, followed signs along a corridor, found my room and turned the key. Exhausted then, I stepped in. Immediately I feel myself surrounded by C’s love, a gentle ball of Pink that suffuses me and seems to say ‘Well done, relax now and be held.’ I sink to my knees. The impression builds. It continues as I run a bath, soak in it and later rest, tearful and elated, on my bed. I wake up after an hour to find myself still beautifully held.

I hadn’t thought much about C while travelling. Illness and rigours of the journey had shaped my focus. Now I feel myself dissolving in her love, thoroughly known. This continues for the remainder of my trip, sustaining me through three flights and a drive across Ireland. Our house in the West is welcoming, beautiful and lonely. Unlike last year, I now feel myself sustained by an enduring love that grief prevented me from registering back then.

Its inspiration translates quickly into the outline of a sacred play called ‘Dreaming a New Earth’. This gives public expression to all I learned in Tibet as well as fulfilling a vision that first came to me with C years ago. She is present as I dance it into being, hike cliffs and walk a beach she used to love. Day by day, I feel her energy becoming focused in my Heart. Feeling her so intensely within, I cannot help but search for her outside. I find myself embracing phantoms in the house, addressing photos, asking where she has gone and if she is ever coming back to me again.

After two weeks I am sitting on our couch. Her energy converges on a single point at the centre of my Heart and I receive a message which, had it been verbal, would say ‘You will never know me in that form again’. Rationally, this message holds no news but still I cry, revisiting an animal despair that I had thought was fully gone. My Heart has been expanding to comprehend C’s absence for a year and yet parts of me that long to conjure her are devastated even now. Holding them, holding myself, I let their frozen traces return to feeling and to flow.

I then feel C’s presence, her radiant Divine Child essence, concentrated in my Heart, midway between a smiling infant who waves forward from her crib and a mature woman who sits by the edge of a forest, looking back near the end of her Earth life. ‘Beloved how I long to see things through the magic of your eyes/ to share things that make your spirit rise …’ A third image rises of C in the Alhambra, eyes large with wonder, enchanted by reflections of a Beauty for which she lived.

Later a scene flashes on TV: a mother elephant is washing her baby. My Heart bursts in an epiphany of joy. I realise that I am seeing with C’s eyes, beholding the scene as if her sensibility were mine! With a start I realise that the words of our favourite poem – cummings ‘i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)’ – are now literally true! The Beloved has been remembered as One, healing a division once signified by a solitary desert tear. C lives, palpably, emphatically, in my Heart! Will I never feel lonely again? Already I do. I must go to Germany next week for her anniversary.

                                                                    *

Friends greet me at the airport. I hadn’t known how it would be to return. Last year, after C’s passing, it was hard for me to be here. Her absence made my presence incoherent. Nothing seemed to fit. I felt dislocated and unable to belong. Today it is otherwise. The afternoon is bright and the hills of the Allgau look beautiful. I have no sense of strangeness or unfamiliarity. On the contrary, I feel as if I really do belong, as if her country has become my country and her friends my friends.

There is only one explanation for this: the earthly soul disposition that used to be C’s has become mine! I feel an intense poignancy as we drive, occasioned by the gravity of her absence, but no specific grief. She collected me several times from this airport. It was always such a joy to be met then! Now she moves like a giant angel over our car. At one point she focuses energy through my Heart to connect with a dear friend. We remember her well.

                                                                    *

‘My beautiful, beautiful Love, I salute you on this anniversary of your passing …’ A pale sun squints through branches of old trees. The sky is clear and the air balmy. The cemetery feels enchanted. A landscape angel hovers above the city of her birth. I want her by my side to fulfil this moment, to know the love that I have found through her, an impossible love of which we used to speak. I want to share it with her although her passing has been the condition of its arising, or my realisation of it. Would that she were here to share it! She is, as treasure on the wind. I plant a white rose and let you go, my Love, while carrying you in my Heart.

                                                                    *

I am at the cemetery and C is all around. She is no more fixed in the stone box that holds her ashes than anywhere else but she grew up nearby and must have passed this way a thousand times, never thinking that she would be remembered here before her parents. She gathers energetically around me as I sit by the block that bears her name, mutely evoking a power I sometimes knew. Impressions are vivid and clear. Exquisite sensations abound. The days since Tibet have prepared me for this. A new pact is being sealed.

When I rise my Beloved disperses into air. Already her parents will be on their way. I feel her over-lighting as we park the car and walk towards Marktplatz. An elderly couple stands bereft, together in solitude, yearning for one they cannot see. It seems cruel that she isn’t on my arm, returning Home. This miracle I would gladly conjure for their sakes. I still feel serene as we embrace and inspired by boundless love as we reminisce through lunch. Frau B explains how she fell ill during the pregnancy and risked her life to continue. In the end, penicillin saved her. She was too sick to be with C for the first year.

I knew about this and understood it as a prime source of C’s problems with making home on Earth. She and her parents had not communicated well. Mostly, she remains a mystery to them. They are still puzzled by her choice to refuse treatment. I explain that she felt too tired in her body to undergo more chemo, that she wasn’t fleeing life but had no fear of death. Their observations through her last days confirm this. They remember the inspiration of her passing and are consoled. I link arms as we walk through cobbled streets to her old school and visit a church where for years she tried to pray.

That night my dreams relate that new feminine energy is rising for expression through me. This involves admitting the optimism of C’s youth before it was crushed by misuse, when she thought she could leave home without carrying imprints. Although we didn’t know each other then, our souls have long been growing old together. I must bring this aspect of her promise forward in myself. To do so I must let go all attachment to her earthly form. I walk later in a forest we both loved, taking up in order to put down.

                                                                    *

I return to C’s birthplace the next day to speak more with her parents. I already know that she was reared for the first year by her grandmother. Her mother confirms this and adds that a new arrangement needed to be found because C was crying all the time. This locked the parents into a tight schedule of relieving each other from child-care while alternating shifts at work. Opportunities for leisure were scarce and there was little time for play. Despite this, Frau B said that C was no trouble until she reached adolescence.

By age two she would go to bed at seven o’clock and look at her books. At three, if her parents wanted to go out they would leave a key with neighbours. C had a little red bag and understood that if she was good, there would be sweets in it when she woke up the next morning. Sometimes she would share them on a rope with Hans Jenner in the flat below. Always she would go into her parents early and ask ‘Mama, are you still tired?’ When the beginning of the school year was marked by a mass, C would tell Frau B that she didn’t need to go but she still looked around and smiled to find her mother present.

Frau B tells these stories without any sense that there might be an underlying pattern. Hearing them, I understand more clearly C’s constant fear of being abandoned and her anger at being overlooked. There is a tacit acknowledgment that her father was ‘too hard on her’ and that Frau B’s role had been that of peacemaker after the event. I know this also from C’s recollections. She felt that her creativity had been stunted by criticism. Her dreams confirmed this. Frau B related that when C got older she had to be told that she could stay up a little later.

From puberty, she disputed attempted over-ridings of her will. This led to frequent conflicts and early exit from the family home. Pre-emptive anger masked a constant susceptibility to hurt thereafter, particularly in dealings with men. Beauty allowed C to attract boyfriends easily. Emotional complexity unnerved all but the most bullying and/or dependent. It took us three years of shared passion to clarify this. Her parents think she was ‘flirtatious’. Their implication hurt her deeply and I know why. Her first nature and deepest longing was never other than to love and be loved.

Difficult relationships kept happening because she kept trying to realise this dream, throwing herself against the walls of a pattern that was largely unconscious. Every woman, she told me, has already opened a thousand times. This resolution expressed a deep commitment to the essential dreaming of her soul, beyond setbacks and ill use. Her parents have no sense of the causation involved. They did what was their best, even when they enlisted the aid of her first boyfriend to drive them to Paris.

She asked them not to divulge her address when she moved there at eighteen. They did more in an effort to secure her connection to home. C reacted against this over-riding and never extended such trust again. They still can’t fathom why she ‘cut them out of her life’. A continuing tendency to dominate frustrated any overtures she might have made, even during the years I knew here. Going home was always a source of anguish. So was failing to. I reassure them as to her concern and, insofar as the topic can be broached, her forgiveness.

                                                                    *

Medical emergency led to C’s being put aside at birth. Thus she never bonded, never felt welcomed and never felt held. For days she passed from aunt to aunt until her grandmother stepped in. Her mother was critically ill. They met intermittently through her first year on visits that always led to renewed separation. C expected to be left behind. This pattern played over a terror of annihilation that was induced six months into the pregnancy, when Frau B was advised to discontinue. That episode also served to activate traces of extreme patriarchal abuse laid down during earlier priestess lives. This happened during the critical period of first chakra formation.

As a result, C had a very tenuous connection to life on Earth. She also had a profound gift and ineradicable passion for it. This was subjected from the second year to her father’s controlling ways. Irritable and shamed, he stifled spontaneous expression. He also modelled a process of venting disproportionate anger on present events. This masked feelings of underlying hurt and shaped the strategy his daughter would adopt in her mid-teens, matching fire with fire by outwardly contesting her father’s power. Inwardly she bore the marks of his wounding, no matter how far away she fled.

In the course of her 07 illness, perceiving a connection with patterns of struggle that had governed her life, C declined physical treatment until these emotional patterns were resolved. This happened over the course of three weeks. For the last of these, I held her every night through waves of terror. Day after day, the hospital called to warn that she would die that night if she didn’t come in. She refused until a last wave of panic broke and was contained. I held her through this terror of annihilation, with no abandoning. Then, utterly weakened, she allowed herself to be taken into care.

The next day she surprised me by choosing to have chemotherapy. I had thought that a spiritual miracle was surely to hand but C was eager to find an assured path back to life. I can’t say what might have been but was happy to affirm her now conscious will to live and obliged to support her choice. In the event, great courage and resolution were required through a course of treatment that proved forbiddingly severe. My part was to match her resolution and continue her experience of being held steadfastly by a man. She displayed unremitting heroism at all times.

This was not the same as being reborn of the Mother although, unconsciously, that pattern also was fulfilled. I later wrote a sacred play – The Goddess Rising: Sexual Healing and the Return of the Female Christ – to facilitate a conscious integration. Sadly, C never got to experience this.

                                                                    *

The next day I walk in her adoptive city. Its old centre is framed by medieval walls complete with towers. It is elegant, urbane and crammed with restaurants and shops. C loved these and visited often. Last year, in the weeks before her passing, she had been hospitalised in another city so I never went into ‘town’ during my stay. I know there will be strong impressions waiting for me there, more memories that I need to take up in order to put down, and so it proves.

Feelings are vivid and sharp as I move through bustling streets and narrow lanes. I remember our times here with amazing clarity: an ice cream here, coffee there, occasional meals and countless looks in many shops. Old traces surface constantly. Despite the harshness of her upbringing, C had the strongest, most resilient spirit I have ever known in any human being. Perhaps because open expression of its vast creative power was never achieved, it brimmed over when she was considering a new dress or savouring fine wine.

She threw herself fully into life on such occasions and their reflux hits me hard as I go searching for us (for that is surely what I am doing) in as yet un-sifted byways of our past. The effect is overwhelming. I have no option but to keep going, absorbing ever keener impressions as tears stream down my face. No-one interferes. Each reflection is precious and necessary. I am held by impossible love even as it tears me asunder. Sometimes the impact is so strong that I think our past must surely erupt into my present, making it whole. This never happens. Only my Heart is transformed.

It’s as if a screen of crystallised emotion had been set between familiar facades and my estranged, lacerated self. This screen dissolves the more my tears flow. My dream that night says I must make ready to let go. I can do so now, I think, having gathered a last major wave of un-cleared memories. Tomorrow I will return to the area where we lived and a nearby forest where we walked, ever so slowly, for weeks after C’s first illness.

                                                                    *

It isn’t raining. This is the only blessing I require. I set off uphill towards the edge of our city. It is an area of great resonance for me, full of memory and challenge. I receive all gladly. It feels strange to approach our old place without C in it. The apartment has long since been re-let. How can it endure without her presence? How can these shops, this street, continue to appear the same? Has no-one grasped the standing of the lavishly gifted, extravagantly damaged soul who once lived here but no longer does? ‘Kennen Sie die Dame?’ (‘Do you know the Lady?’), C wrote under a ravishing photo of her toddler self in an old album. I am still learning my Beloved, and the effort elevates.

Balcony furniture is the only visible sign of change. I had a week last year to make peace here so it isn’t hard. Only a new name on the doorbell slightly jars. I continue walking up our street to the city’s edge. Sitting on ‘our’ seat, I contemplate ‘our’ tree. It too implacably endures. C brought me here when I first came. Builders had planned to cut the tree down but the architect insisted on its preservation. He designed the apartments so that no two blocks were exactly alike.

C relished this fact. Such appreciation was typical of her, especially in the weeks after her illness. I brought her to this seat then many times, still awed by the courage and devotion that drew her back so many times from the lure of death. Every day she walked a little further, preparing for greater life with no thought of relapse. I sit silently, observing our tree, moved occasionally to new tears as a freshly poignant image rises up from depths of infinite compassion.

The world of light resolves then into clarity and I find peace in the midst of harrowing grief. My love is always somehow greater than its sorrow, as Heart is always greater than what tends to break it (open). Everything C did was motivated by love, even in throes of confusion. There was always a fine edge between her capacity for love and challenges her soul assumed in relation to it. In ways she was too lovely for this world. Everything about her moves me still, from her little red bag to her final lucid words: ‘Hurry darling or you’ll miss your train’.

Something moves me to walk around the tree and view it from a seat we never used. This reveals something that I hadn’t seen before: low down, the trunk splits evenly in two halves, at a level that’s obscured by foliage from other angles. Here it looks like two trees growing from a single root. The sight reminds me of another cummings poem – one’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one: / which halves reintegrating, shall occur/ no death … A friend told me that C spoke of leaving Earth while I was in New Zealand. She feared that I would meet another woman but bought a magnificent red dress on the same day: a fine edge.

                                                                                                                      *

I sit a while, bid our tree farewell and walk a lonely path into the forest. Perhaps this will be my last time? I will return as long as either of C’s parents is alive. This journey has been for me a pilgrimage, a remembering through which old gifts have been given anew. Despite my spiritual work and travel, I still feel richly accompanied in other dimensions but bereft in this one. I must make good my condition from within, growing new consciousness from a Heart that has now been generously broken many times.

The forest too is generous and renewing. Its green light falls like soothing balm around me. I begin once more to feel whole and Home, realising how C struggled all her life to become Love despite obstacles set by her soul along the way. In the end her victory was an end to struggle: acceptance and a passing that was conscious, willed and full of grace. It is my privilege to be the first to learn from her example. I live each moment to be worthy of it, knowing that its fulfilment on Earth must come first of clear enactment through me.

                                                                    *

Three days home I hear in meditation ‘Lady Christa has become the Universe’. That evening she passes through my Heart in iconic garb, a short jacket and blue jeans. I feel no sadness and no joy, only infinite appreciation for the goodness of her life. Words well silently from Heart to lips: ‘Goodbye my Love, Hello.’

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