It has been some time since my Grandfather Howell’s passing. There were moments of frustration and anguish. Yet, I was able to write through that moment of imbalance and anger. It was last year, while briefly being back from Egypt, where I came across Dr. Lucy Kalanithi meditative story. A story on her “funny, feisty, thoughtful, brave girl.” A tale on the miracle of children, and their untapped genius. Their hidden understanding of that connection between the spiritual and Earthly realms. Somehow, children have a special gift in comprehending what many adults fail to see.
Listening to this meditative story, I felt comforted by Katie’s presence. By her mother’s observation of her, and how this observation led to Dr. Kalanithi’s own comfort. Katie’s actions and thought process were breaths of fresh air, as I indirectly received confirmation in things I had been thinking, after Grandpa’s passing. Things that made sense on a spiritual level. Yet, me keeping many of those thoughts to myself (with the exception of telling them to a few family members), out of the desire to avoid being seen as deranged or crazy. It was re-assuring and refreshing to hear Dr. Kalanithi so artistically describe her daughter’s mastery of still connecting with those loved ones, who have transitioned on; while acknowledging their loss. Still knowing that there are rituals and activities needing to be done, in order for their essence to be vigilant on Earth. Recognizing that though they are not here, physically, they are able to show us signs of their presence in our interaction with the Earth, and other people. Therefore, shortly after Grandpa’s passing, it became very clear that neither I, or other members of the family, could stay in our misery for too long. If Grandpa’s essence and legacy was to continue on this Earth, we were going to have to. . .live! And, I don’t mean simply existing. Recapturing the beauties of our family, and observing how Grandpa left parts of him in us, in order for us to continue our family legacy. Preserving those beauties.
There are so many things leading up, in showing me that Grandpa was safe; after his transition into Heaven’s gates. For one, the statue I saw outside of one Marriott Hotel (in Cairo, Egypt) of a mother, holding a Baby. Standing next to them was a man playing a violin. [Note: I wasn’t joking when I spoke of this at Grandpa’s memorial]. I knew that Grandpa was finding rest in his mother’s arms. Great grandma, Essie Mae Metcalf Howell. In many ways, Grandpa had gone back to being like a child. The theme of the child, and wisdom of children had come back up, again. From my youngest Uncle (“the baby”) being there with Grandpa when he passed away, to my cousin (“the baby) being the first to come out and join me in capturing ourselves at Lake Michigan, a few days after Grandpa’s memorial. A place that Grandpa took us, during our summer visits to Michigan, as children. Clearly, the wisdom of a child was apparent in this lesson, we were being taught.
In Katie, I was seeing that little girl in me. That side who knew Grandpa was physically gone, but still feeling him near. Still knowing that work must be done; highlighting the precious things Grandpa loved, in order to keep him near. Being open to (and allowing) Heaven’s use of people and spaces, in bringing him closer. That reminds me of an article I wrote last year. An experience I had, the day after memorial day and speaking to my Mom (while in Egypt), about Grandpa being in the Navy. That following day, I met two Egyptian navy men (dressed in uniform), on the train. Clearly, heaven was listening. Nevertheless, those type of precious moments, and their power in getting through the passing of a loved one.
Throughout this meditative story, there were different parts, which seemed as if they were mirrors of what I was experiencing; shortly after Grandpa’s passing and attending of his memorial. For one, the presence of water. Katie and Dr. Kalanithi’s visit near the ocean reminded me of not only that one water visit, but others with special family members, and our visit to the water. Just thinking about the history of this side of my family, I know we are a people, who have used the guidance of water. Another Uncle’s mastery and knowledge of water is living proof of this.
Then, of course, Dr. Kalanithi’s description of eating tacos with Katie (two for each of them), and their observation of the Mexican “Day Of the Dead” holiday is another connection, which also came up while on vacation with my Dad in Florida. Not to leave out my study abroad adventure in Mexico in the winter of 2009. Mexico seemed to always find her presence in my family, and my travel journey-even while in Egypt.
Dr. Kalanithi’s speaking of her daughter’s subconscious understanding, that life is a cycle, even through others, is life-giving air. “Things just are,” as Dr. Kalanithi articulates. Death happens. Life happens. Yet, that doesn’t mean a person ends. Even if we can’t see them. For Katie and her mother, their picnics, going near the ocean, and visiting Daddy’s grave site, is how he stays connected to them, in the living world. Katie understands that though Daddy’s body “stopped working,” his Soul is around. Deep down, as I have experienced my Grandpa on a spiritual realm, so has Katie for her father. Its easy for Katie to come to terms with Daddy’s physical passing because she sees him in other ways. It is clear that Katie is a high-energy and intelligent girl, who understands this. Dr. Kalanithi’s “feisty, thoughtful, brave girl” is truly magical. Magical in mind, body, and Soul.
Since Grandpa’s passing I have experienced his presence through other people, distant family members, places, and things. Its this journey that reminds myself, and other family members, that Grandpa is now operating on a higher plane. He is guiding us to a greater level. A more spiritual and Divine level. We just have to be open and willing to be guided by this knowledge. Even in his passing, he is still teaching.
Too often, we as human beings, get so depressed in not seeing the physical presence of our loved ones (when they have passed on), that we miss out on precious moments and timings; showing us that the life cycle continues, even when their bodies “stop working.” She does not articulate this in such a way, but Katie understands this. Dr. Kalanithi is observing this power in her daughter. Magical, at best!
I first listened to this story, late one night, last year. Wanting to write about it then, only for time to delay me. With very good reason, I presume. I felt nourished spiritually and emtionally in the rich coloring and texture of Dr. Kalanithi’s words. The story felt heavenly and divine. In my mind, that mother and daughter journey, was akin to the Madonna and child. Only this time, they were in the living flesh. I remember tears falling down my eyes, as truth’s riches were being spoken. I was not alone in my childlike vision. Others have been thinking in that same way. This story gave more validation to those of us needing to hear, that our inner child’s interpretation of our gone loved ones, was fine. It was ok to be a child, and like Katie, see the power of a. . .child’s eye!
To hear Dr. Lucy Kalinithi’s “My feisty, thoughtful, brave girl,” meditative story, you can click on the following link:. http://podcast.meditativestory.com/p/7