As I reflect on the past weeks, at war landing in our hearts and on our screens, in our stories and in peoples lives and homes, I am reminded of a war I started.
A War with Angels.
The story below is an excerpt from my book, A Series of Surrenders ~ A Memoir of Grief. (excerpt begin pg. 142)
Days were passing and I was getting closer to my escape three hours north. One evening, three days after the 49th day, I lay in bed with pain in my belly and a burning in my Caesar scar. After all these years it felt awe-inspiring to feel my son with me again in my body. In my imaginings the umbilical cord was being cut. I howled in heart agony as I felt the separation deepen. I allowed myself to fall into the pain. I felt safe as in my company were a flock of angels soothing every cut and caring for me. I slept deeply that evening and woke feeling like my body had been thrashed in the blows of a storm.
The next day is when anger strutted in, dressed in red and black. I had been gifted a healing treatment that was to soothe me – a detox for my pain. It did not soothe, it revealed.
I lay on a treatment table for 90 minutes and let the bottles of wine seep out of my pores. I was not relaxing into layers of release, I was slowly winding up. Following the treatment as I walked back to my car I sensed the shift in my energy. I was no longer stumbling, I was boldly strutting forward and pounding the pavement with force. I checked into my new energy seeking the knowing of what had shifted and where I was now. Was I better? No. In my stride I found anger. There was no longer a barrier against my anger, the treatment had worn it away, and it was now out in full force. My son had been taken and those same angels who soothed me the night before were the ones who had taken him.
With anger in my stride I went to war with angels.
I traveled home unsure of what anger would bring but feeling thankful that for now I felt something different. Wine was poured and I paced the back room of my house, the one that leads to the garden. I looked to the horizon and began chanting my mumbles of anger. Sip by sip the mumbles got louder and their force left my mouth as daggers.
Nina sent news from Spain and life met death again. She was pregnant with her much-wanted second child. A new child, fresh life was on the way – just not to me. My anger swelled at the angels for their cruel joke delivered now at the peak of my pain. I was happy for my friend, her wish was coming true. My wish had been stolen. Without hesitation or thought and in full force, charged with my anger, I picked up the printer from my desk and hurled it out the back door and delighted in the smashing of what was once complete but now in pieces. I took a breath and glared at the broken technology. My breath quickened and I inhaled a deep satisfaction that settled under my skin. I made a choice and this time I would not be putting myself to bed. I set to task. In the back of my car was a box filled with plates, cups and glasses that I was to take to the community centre to donate. For days as I drove they would clink and shift at each turn. Remembering them gifted me with grenades and they swiftly all followed the same fate as the printer.
With feet securely planted at the open back doorway I would raise each piece above my head and in anger let it fly to the cement. A frenzy took over and the grass, pathway and stairs of my garden filled with shatters and shards. Looking down upon them I learnt what a person who self harms may feel as the broken pieces scattered were giving me relief. I could now see outside my chest and saw my broken heart on the grass and dripping down the stairs.
Later that day as the sun was close to setting my sister Sandra found me. I was sitting in the garden, at a distance under the Jacaranda tree, looking through anger upon the broken pieces. She stood at the top of the stairs and took in the mess. Carefully she navigated her way through the war zone avoiding possible land mines. The close sight of her softened me and my truth surrendered.
“They took my baby away,” I whimpered.
“The angels. They took my baby away.”
Gently my sister took me inside and sat with me while I oscillated between agony and anger. I was so angry at my angels. What gave them the right to take my baby? He was mine. I had made him, and I was caring for him. It was irrational but to me very real. Anger felt good and I fed it.
The next day I put my house on the market. Sandra arranged for her real estate agent to visit and he appraised my house, broken pieces and all. He professionally ignored the war zone and pointed out the features that would make my home a good sell. He was good at spinning the story, the gift of a true salesman, so I bet on him. I was clear with intent and asked him to get me a quick sale so I could be set free.
For five days I smashed anything that would break. It felt satisfying to see the mess grow. Finally, the outside world looked like I felt inside. No-one dared to stop me and the war raged. As the days passed my anger slowly softened and a deep disturbance settled. “They took my baby away” became my mantra. Feeling intense anger at angels was the seed of my disturbance. My heart knew that they did not wish me the pain and it was not by their demand, but my anger needed to place blame. For years I had looked to angels for healing and guidance and now they were dressed in my anger as thieves and enemies. Part of the pain was my missing them. Who could I pray to now?
I committed to the anger. If this was where I was then I felt obliged to travel through in the hope that if I allowed its fullness to be revealed and expressed maybe it would pass. I remembered that my loss had lessened when I had invited others to join me so I sent out word again. I invited family and friends to a smashing party. I did not want to hide my anger and felt that others may wish to also express and smash. On the evening of the fifth day of smashing, people arrived to the smashing party. The invitation was to come armed with something to smash, to drink wine, and eat smashed pumpkin soup. I was at the end of my anger and felt one last push towards letting it go. Those who came took their turn in smashing something and letting it go. I stood with them all as they declared what their anger was directed at and then with a howl or a squeal their smash joined the war. I drank wine and the frenzy whirled up again. As I smashed I felt the need for more, the satisfaction was waning and I wanted a hit of the feeling that for five days had held me. My last memory of that night is dragging the small purple bookshelf out of Sages room and hurling it down the stairs. In my drunken haze I wanted it to smash into smaller pieces so I stumbled into the broken pieces to retrieve the shrapnel of shattered wood. My friends Richard and Justine pulled me out of the mess and ended the war. Soon after I was put to bed.
Upon waking I felt raw and disgusted. I was amazed that I had no cuts after my stumble into the mess. The anger had made me very tired. Looking upon the brokenness now left me with pain. The pleasure was gone. I knew for certain that I was prepared to make a mess but not to clean it up. I hired a man and his two young apprentices to clean up and remove the evidence. Sitting with my hangover and resolve to surrender, the man approached me.
“This is a bigger job than I had thought.”
“Yeah, so?” I was in no mood for games.
“Well I quoted you $100 but…..” To me he looked as smashed and ugly as my garden.
“$100 is all I have. Take it or leave.” Anger is truly ugly and I had no care or kindness in me.
“Will you pay me in cash?”
“Does this look to you like a job I need a receipt for?”
He nodded and the three of them pulled on thick gloves and began the work of clearing and removing all evidence of anger, war, and my broken heart. I hid in my bedroom and cried.
Later that day I drove away. It was time to talk to the angels. Months later Nina’s second son was born, my third godson. On the day he was born my heart swelled and I felt my capacity for love deepen.
On the odd night when I am drifting to sleep I see myself drawing back a wine bottle or glass in the way an archer would pull on the bow, and my mind sets it free. When I see this image flash and feel the smash, I know my almost sleeping self is letting me know that anger is in me somewhere and is seeking a release.
I took with me books, journals, music and good food. I left behind the alcohol and cigarettes. It was time to become clear. I needed clarity to listen. I had many questions for the angels and I wished desperately to hear their reply. I journeyed to Poona, a small fishing town three hours north from home. Pulling in to Poona felt like I had arrived in the ghost town of a B grade TV movie. It was very quiet on the streets and there was little movement between the houses and the shore. The house I was gifted by Julie and her family was a typical small house that is a home to no-one and everyone. The curtains were thick and dark and did not match the cushions or the couch. The walls were lined with the odd picture frame that looked like the choice had been made to not remove the ‘in place for sale only’ images. I settled in for the night as the sun was setting and wondered for more than a moment: what the fuck am I doing here? I had arrived at a new chapter and had no idea of how it was going to play out.
The first morning I ventured out to seek the water. Down by the sea I saw a family of pelicans. My Dad loved pelicans. When we were all younger my father set to task and over many months, extending into years, he built a holiday home by a river. Many weekends as a child we would drive to Alexandria to our plot of land by the river and play the days away as dad and my brother built our holiday home. Once close to completion my dad declared that the home was to be named Pelican Walk, as he loved to watch the sunset, and the pelicans at the river after a days building. After his passing the sight of them reminded me of him. The pelicans assured me that my father was in attendance. At least I know one person here, I thought. Each morning I would meditate, journal and run. Towards or away I was still unsure.
I reached out to heaven with my questions. It took three days before I heard any answers.
Death is not the ending. It is a transition. Love and peace are possible. Love never dies.
That was soothing but not enough for me. I needed them to answer my questions. Why had they taken my baby away? Why was I not warned? As I softened into the silence over the days the angels stroked my heart and whispered the answers I sought.
One morning I ran to exhaustion and fell upon the grass under a tree that borders the sand. Without thought and with my focus on breathing deep into my lungs I heard the message I had been chasing for days.
“Nothing went wrong that day” they told me. “Sage was always going to leave. Both Sage and I knew that. We had not only been warned we had planned it. My teacher Sage had left me to deepen the lessons of love. Sage’s work was now in heaven and mine was on earth.”
And then my father whispered “I am here too, loving you.”
Over the next few days I was counselled to continue to love Sage and to learn to love without attachment, anger or fear. A gift I have received is my opening again to listening. I desperately wanted to be connected to Sage and to hear what the angels had to say. In my opening to hear Sage and the angels, I opened to hearing spirit and my inner voice of intuition, the voice of my higher self. Over the years I had learnt to dampen that voice, I had edited my listening. I would choose to turn up the volume when it suited me or was needed. But I also chose when to turn the volume down. Sages death re-connected me to a steady stream of guidance. While I was reconnecting and learning to trust my listening again I would ask for reassurance. As I became clear and listened I learned to ask for clarity. Send me a “without a doubt” sign I would ask. The signs always arrived. A song, a feather, dandelion flowers, red balloons, and pictures or quotes from famous inventors. Bit by bit, sign by sign, I released the barriers I had built that kept the flow of the divine at bay.
I felt a call to action. My ticket to heaven could not be cashed in until my work on earth was done. I vowed to not live a little life. I was unsure of what I was meant to do but sure that there was more to come. Possibilities swam in my head and I remembered the many other people living lives through the best and the worst. I reinforced my promises to myself and I began to let go of attachment, anger and fear.
For days I allowed the pain to howl and my heart to crush. I began to take notes as messages came through. Toward the end of my retreat I would wake and ask if I could go home that day. “No”, I was told. “More is needed”. I continued to write, run, meditate and listen. On the 12th day I was told I could go. I was advised to clear Sage’s room and to prepare myself to journey. I was directed to write – I was not sure what, but the message was clear – write. It was time to let go and to transform.
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