... for those who mourn the loss of a soul mate
"He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began." - Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I miss that feeling of normal

So many people - myself included - have written about what mourning a soul mate feels like. We use metaphors. We explain in adjectives and give examples but so often we have to admit we fall short.
Unless you are living through it, losing the love of your life defies description.
And yet here I am trying once again.

This past Monday was my wedding anniversary.
36 years. The last 7 of them since John died.
But I know he still cares about them and I was going to celebrate the day any way I could and I was determined to include John too.
Over the weekend I had dinner with friends and we toasted John and our special day.
On Monday I did a special meditation designed to help me "visit" with him.

That evening I prepared a special meal complete with champagne. I made coconut shrimp, one of John's favorites. And again I toasted us - this time with

I even asked John for a visit and he came through that night. It was short but real. So real I can still remember the details even now, a couple of days later.
And that is what brings me to my post today. The dream visit was beautiful and loving. And when I woke up, in those first few seconds of disorientation that you sometimes have upon awakening, my mind didn't register that John was gone, that what I had just experienced was not in this world.
In fact, my body was still registering what he felt like against me.
And my soul was at peace.
All the jagged pieces of my world smoothed and fell back into place. There was no sadness, no anxiety, no constant feeling that something was missing.
Things felt normal.
And then my mind cleared a little more and reality set in and my new normal came back complete with all those other unwanted feelings.
I miss that old normal.
So very much.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Messages and Manifestations from the Spirit World

I am amazed that our loved ones in the spirit world manage to find ways to communicate with us. But somehow, they do. They want us to know that they have not completely left us. If we pay attention, we will see the signs of their presence. This past Saturday was a perfect example.

Years ago, as our family grew and became busy adults, we started a tradition of trying to meet for breakfast periodically. It kept us connected and we all looked forward to those mini visits. So, when my son Dale and my daughter Dennie were both diagnosed with cancer, that small tradition became even more important to us all. And after Dale transitioned in July, those of us still here committed to having breakfast together at our favorite Village Inn at least once a month. In Dale’s memory, we always order a small glass of Dr. Pepper, his favorite. We each take a sip and toast Dale as we pass the glass around the table and then set the glass at an empty seat. It is our way of still including Dale with the family.

Yesterday, he sent us a sign that he knew what we were doing. As we finished the small ritual, One Call Away by Charlie Puth, a song Dennie always associates with Dale after their diagnoses, began to play in the background. A scant few minutes later, it played again. I don’t think the same song playing more than once in such a short time happens very often. It was as though someone was trying to get our attention. We all knew it was Dale sending a small, grateful hello and thanked him for letting us know he was there. Our family breakfast, in that moment, was complete once again.

In the two months since he passed, Dale has managed to come through in other amazing ways. Who would imagine, for example, that this simple, unpretentious man would be able to manifest himself across the spiritual barrier? And yet he did just that when he appeared to his wife Sandi a couple of weeks ago. She had just laid down in bed but was still wide awake when she thought she felt her cat kneading the bedding at her back. Reaching behind her to shoo the cat away, she was surprised to find nothing there. She rolled over and saw what was very clearly Dale looking back at her and laughing as though he was teasing her. The bedding moved again at which point she assured his spirit that she would be okay and he disappeared. Needless to say, I am thrilled to know he is now a happy spirit. It eases our grief.

Susanne Wilson, the lovely Carefree Medium tells us that our loved ones in the spirit world want to stay connected to us, they watch over us and they send us signs. Now, I tend to think seeing an actual manifestation such as Dale appearing to Sandi is a very rare thing indeed. It must take an incredible amount of energy on their part. But sending signs such as a special song or a feather or a penny or even a hummingbird, quail or butterfly is perhaps a little easier. I know those signs come far more often. We just have to let ourselves be open to seeing them. They will come. I have seen them. You can too.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


For years, Cathy has been urging me to watch a TV series called "Saving Hope". I dabbled in it but never took the plunge to watch it every week. I knew it was a medical drama series that also intertwined some interesting metaphysical issues but for some reason I just never took the time to watch it.
Until now.
Last week, Cathy told me that the show had ended and the series finale was wonderful, keeping with the theme of the show. Now my curiosity was piqued.
I rented the first season and binge-watched it.
I'm hooked. I have since requested the rest of the series from my library (for some reason it is not available on Netflix).
As a nurse, of course, I find the medical drama interesting, if not a little graphic. But it was the metaphysical aspect that really got me hooked.
The show revolves around a surgeon (Charlie) who is injured in a car accident and goes into a coma. While in the coma he has a profound out of body experience and finds himself roaming the halls of the hospital where he used to work and encountering other spirits who are either in comas or are in the process of passing over to the afterlife. He also witnesses his fiance Alex (a surgical resident) go through her own turmoil as she tries desperately to save him.
And it was this particular aspect of the show that touched me.
Many scenes showed Charlie sitting next to Alex as she spoke to his comatose body or as she cried and mourned the loss of their life together.
And I wondered - is that what it's like for our loved ones as they watch us go through our grief?
Do they talk to us?
Sit with us?
Touch us?
But because they are in another dimension we are blind to them?
My heart tells me this must be so.
How else could we "feel their presence"?
Smell their cologne or perfume?
Listen just when a special song plays?
How else could we get signs from them - coins, feathers, and, in my particular case, little pieces of glitter?
How else could some people even report brief apparitions of those who have passed?
The series name is aptly called "Saving Hope", a play on words since the hospital that is the setting is called Hope Zion Hospital.
But this belief that I and others have about our spirit is also a hope for us.
A hope - no, make that a confirmation - that there is more to what we can perceive with just our five senses. That we need to expand our awareness of what consciousness is.
Those of us who are medical people need to be aware our patients can experience life even though they appear to be totally comatose.
And to those of us who mourn I say rejoice! Rejoice in the knowledge that our loved ones live on and are very much with us as we continue our journey until we too cross over and are reunited.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I am directionally challenged by Betts McCalla

I admit it. I am directionally challenged. I grew up on the north side of Chicago so I learned to tell directions based on that city’s demographics. West was O’Hare airport. East was Lake Michigan. South was downtown and farther North was Wisconsin. A few months after losing my spouse, I realized I no longer had a valid sense of direction. Home was no longer my center. There were satellites all around me- work, library, church, movie theater, mall, grocery store, book store and post office all became like spokes or tethers. I would navigate/gravitate to one of these familiar locations. They were my camouflage for the numbness and misdirection I was feeling. Occasionally I would add in a freestanding Starbucks for variety. Sometimes, I would hang out near the map of the stores at the mall just so I could eavesdrop on where people were headed. I had a lot of time and obviously a lot of options at the mall. Maybe I, too, should visit the Disney store. I loved the anonymity the mall offered. There were non-stop people to watch, a constant cacophony of sounds and multiple places to buy coffee, cookies, pretzels and popcorn- my new dinner food favorites. I was trying to use retail therapy to help heal the large hole in my heart compass. 

After the official “dinner time” was over, usually around eight o’clock, I would head home. Never a confident parker, I learned to back my van into the garage so I could lower the garage door before I got out of my vehicle. I became hyper vigilant of my surroundings and the proximity of people, particularly men. I monitored my phone calls and only answered caller ids I recognized. I felt fragile, vulnerable, fearful and unprotected. Yes, I had turned into a scaredy cat. One of the drawbacks of being married to your best friend/soulmate/lover is never needing or wanting to be with other people that much. And when that person is gone it leaves a mighty empty calendar. My sister and brother-in-law made it a point to have a dinner and a lunch with me at least once a week. But, I got very few invitations from the “couple” friends we had living in the area. Sometimes, a wife would invite me to lunch but I missed seeing the male half of the equation who I also considered to be my friend. It’s okay to set a third place at the table and invite a widow or widower friend for dinner. I promise we won’t eat that much, won’t stay that late, and we will enjoy your camaraderie.

It took me a couple of years before I started to recover my sense of direction, to fit into my skin, again. To take my moxie out of the closet and thrust off my irrational fears of being invisible now that I wasn’t a part of a couple anymore. I learned I could use some of my spare time to work at a local county animal shelter whispering words of love and encouragement to abandoned dogs while teaching them to trust again. I rediscovered my love of rock music- playing it loud and proud and attending live performances. I’ve developed bonds and close friendships with people who had only danced before on my periphery. And, I have an Arizona sense of direction these days. North is Sedona. South is Mexico. East is Scottsdale, and West is California.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Take the Photo … record your memories while you can

I took up photography in my thirties and for years, thanks to the praise of others, I fancied myself something of an artist with the camera. Landscapes and flowers and interesting perspectives and lighting were my “thing.” But I also tried to keep my trusty Nikon close to hand for family events as I recorded memories for the family. There were photos of the children, grandchildren and greats, puppies and kittens, Christmases, birthdays, and “just because” barbeques. For years, I recorded our life as a family.

But somewhere along the way I stopped taking quite so many photos. I did not realize how much I had missed recording through my lens until I started searching for photos of my son Dale that we could use for his funeral. I was dismayed to discover how few I had from recent years. And now it is too late to get any more. My heart aches for all the missed opportunities I had to record his smile, his goofy personality, his kind nature, the hours of fun we had in just knowing him.

I think that I originally took up photography for two basic reasons. First, it was a creative outlet that I needed at the time. But for me, it offered an opportunity to hide behind the camera. After all, if I was taking the pictures, no one would be taking photos of me. I now know that in doing that, I have, on some level, denied my very existence. It was a disservice to my family to deny those tangible reminders of me. Just as it has been a disservice to us all for me to stop recording family joy. In either case, we are left with far too few records of those we love and the happy memories recorded there on film.

After someone we love is only available to us in spirit form, those concrete, glossy reminders of happy times are all the more precious. With a photo, we can return to happier, healthier, younger days when a cloud of grief and worry did not color our memories of the one we loved. Or, we can remember with compassion and pride the brave last days as a loved one fought valiantly to cling to life and love.

Some years ago, with flood waters rising around us, we had to evacuate our home. I found myself standing in the middle of our house frantically thinking, “What do I save?” As I suspect is true for anyone in that situation, I saved family photos first. Losing those photos or not taking them in the first place is tantamount to losing years of history, just blanking it out of existence after the images and people captured there are gone.

So, my advice to anyone reading this and to myself is take all those photos while you can, while loved ones are still alive, while babies are growing, while life is happening all around you. Memories can fade or disappear with time. But photos can bring those memories to vibrant, joyful life again. Let others take photos of you, no matter how bad you think you look (and I have some doozies of myself!). Those who love you want to remember you just as you are. They do not expect you to be perfectly made up, coiffed, dressed, fit, pounds lighter or any of the other ideals we wish we could embody. Some of the most precious photos are the ones that show the real you. Think of the photos you love most of the ones you have lost. Are they not the ones that show that loved one’s essence? That memory is the one you want to capture and hold in your heart forever! Take the photos!




Friday, August 11, 2017

Love Lives Forever by Betts McCalla

Lately, the phrase Love Lives Forever seems to be popping up continuously in my peripheral vision. I believe this phrase because I believe love continues past this life into the next realm. Love stretches from my universe to your heaven. It’s not a stretchy substance like a rubber band or putty that we are each holding onto. It’s more like Bluetooth. I send you my thoughts and you respond, though not always in a timely manner. Sometimes you must not be wearing your receiver. Maybe you are in airplane mode. I miss your rapid fire, witty repartee responses. I still share things with you because I know I can and because I believe it makes you happy, too, staying in contact with me. I feel your energy and the vibration of your spirit emits warmth. Not like the furnace heat that poured off your body when we held each other for the last time. This is more like the warmth of a soft blanket caressing me just as I doze off for a nap.

When you are responding, I almost feel your touch like you have your hand on my shoulder or at the back of my neck. You always had the warmest hands. Maybe you have become a Reiki master and are treating me from a distance. Sometimes, I can walk into a room and the scent of you is evident. These are rooms you never physically inhabited but somehow your spirit is able to evoke your familiar smell. Or a large beautiful butterfly lingers near me for the longest time resting on the yellow and red flowering lantana plant as I work on the patio. Or sometimes, it’s the hummingbird that whizzes alternately between me and the fuchsia colored bougainvillea blooms. On rare occasions you fill the front yard with colorful quail- those beautiful little birds with their man buns bobbing as they run. We would always stop to watch them and found them so comical. I even named my company after them, Running Quail Press. In each case I can feel your love cascading over me.

There are so many expressions about love. Love is a gamble. Love is for fools. Love is one-sided. Love is blind. Love means never having to say you’re sorry. (That one is a true fallacy.) One of my favorites is "Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” -Louis de Bernieries - Corelli's Mandolin

Last evening, Susanne Wilson the Carefree Medium, autographed my copy of her new book, Soul Smart, and guess what she wrote? Love lives forever! Yes, Susanne, it does.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What it feels like for me

There is a hum to the life of a house that we don't even realize is there until it no longer is.
I had some major electrical work done on the house yesterday and, because of that, the power to the house had to be turned off for several hours so that the technicians could safely work.
When that happened I was struck by the silence - the dead silence. It is called that for a reason. My house was dead. Its heart was no longer beating. Its life blood - the electrical current that powered everything - was no longer circulating.
Complete and utter silence.
The refrigerator no longer hummed.
The coffee pot did not light up and make that liquid that I relied on every morning.
The air conditioner no longer turned off and on with its familiar little click just before and after that action.
Lights did not respond to my fingers.
The security camera did not make that little move it did when it tracked action in the living room.
My house had died. Its light had literally been extinguished.
Much like the light had gone out in my life when my soul mate John died.
I remember that night when I awoke to find John gone as if it was yesterday. It was 1:15 AM. We were in a hotel room in New York City. We had been on vacation but were scheduled to depart for our home in Arizona in just a few hours.
Yet I woke up and immediately knew something was wrong. John was not in bed as he should have been and did not answer when I called out to him. And even though the electricity was on in that room and the room was really not silent, my soul was. My soul knew even before my eyes and brain did that John was gone.
The light in my life had gone out.
During the time that the power was out in my house yesterday I made do with little fixes. I met a friend for breakfast. I ran errands. We hooked a generator up to the freezer in the garage to preserve the food. I read real paper books and magazines.
Then, after the work was completed, the power was turned back on in the afternoon and my house immediately came back to life with its familiar noises and actions.
But John did not come back that morning and there was no way to jump start my life again. I continue to make do with things to try to fill the gap - friends, family, hobbies, etc. - but it will never be the same.
Nothing is as it was before.
And never will be again.
My soul still wants to have the electricity turned back on.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

We’re Just Having an Adventure... by Betts McCalla

We’re Just Having an Adventure...
These were the words my husband would say to me when we were lost and he was being too manly to stop and ask for directions. I almost starved to death one day when we were first dating because he knew the restaurant he wanted to take me to for lunch, (we skipped breakfast because lunch was going to be wonderful), was just up the road about 20 miles from Mankato and it had white pillars out front. About 3PM he finally admitted defeat and we settled for greasy burgers and French fries with brown gravy in a biker bar. We were having an adventure. This was in the olden days before cars came equipped with GPS and before all cell phones were born again as smart phones. Can you believe we drove coast to coast unaided by online directions? What pioneers you must think we were. It was just us and those handy little triptiks that AAA printed up for the asking as part of their member services. Staying in touch with the office amounted to one daily phone call.

It’s hard to believe how unfettered we were. And how fearless. Leaving the house now, without a cell phone is tantamount to disaster. You have an improperly clothed feeling and all day long you are reaching for your phone. These days my entire life is in my cell phone. Medical, business and personal information all fit into the palm of my hand. It even tells me how many hours and the quality of my sleep time. The contact listing section includes past and present important and no longer important people that have been grandfathered in from my last three Android phones. I no longer bother using my battery devouring Canon sure shot camera opting instead for the convenience and acceptable quality of photos taken with my Edge.

I leave my Nook at home as I have all the digital reading and musical apps on my phone. And my phone is faster for internet searches than my higher priced personal computer. Just remember to edit if you use voice commands to send text messages. Recently a friend called her husband to let him know the plumber would arrive at 6PM and asked for him to text her back to confirm receiving the message since the husband would need to be home to meet him. The text that she received read “Yes to sex with the plumber. Let’s just get it over with. What time will you be home?”

These devices are all part of our New Now. They are adaptations we rely upon to avoid the fear of seeming vulnerable or becoming a victim. When you are alone, the loneliness breeds avoidance of intimacy. I think our lives have become so techno dependent because we choose to avoid 3 dimensional interaction with people. I wouldn’t mind having an adventure right about now.