Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Life After Death

*Originally posted on The 8.5x11 Project*

When I sat down to write this, I had a different idea in my mind of how this would go. I had every intention of writing something light, and funny, and maybe a little bit strange. As I began to let the words flow, I realized this was something much deeper, much more cathartic; I clearly needed to get this out.
* * *
I never put much stock into the after life. At 25, why would I ever have to face mortality? I don't believe in a higher power, or "God", or that "Jesus" saves. I hold the belief that when you die, that's it. You go back into the ground and help some grass grow. This was the circle of life to me.
When my dad got sick, I found little comfort in anything. Ienvied those who had their faith. I had nothing to fall back on, nothing to make sense of the "why"?
"Why us? Why him? Why Cancer? Why now?"
I found myself screaming at "God": "If you exist let him live! He doesn't deserve this! What kind of God takes away the good people?" Clearly, this did nothing. I didn't feel better screaming at an invisible man in the clouds. I didn't feel better sitting in the chapel in the hospital - waiting for my dad to take his last breath, trying desperately to remember how to pray. After 10 minutes of quiet frustration I stormed out, slamming the chapel door, feeling stupid for trying to force myself to believe in something I felt to my very core didn't exist.
I had to go back to my basic beliefs. I had to try and craft some semblance of comfort from what I know to be true. As I sat by his bedside holding his hand, I felt the warmth transferring from his body to mine, and that's when I had a small revelation of sorts. I was brought back to high school science class where I remember hearing this: "Energy doesn't die, it transfers."
(I'm paraphrasing here, Newtonian physics says that it 'can neither be created nor be destroyed; however it can change from one form to another. But I'm not here to give you a science lesson so let's get back to my story.)
The things that made my dad a human being - subatomic particles, energy, magnetic impulses - they had to go somewhere. The energy had to change, go into the air, the ground, into me, my sister, whatever. And just like that I began to feel like my dad's death was not the end of my world.
Look, my science might not be completely accurate. I don't pretend to understand physics to their fullest extent; I'm not Sheldon Cooper. But this is what finally gave me comfort. Let me have this.
Is it strange to say that when my dad took his last breath, I felt a part of him move into me? Probably. But I don't care about strange. I embrace it. Was my brain playing tricks on me? Perhaps, but let me have this.
Life after his death has not been easy. It's the hardest thing I've ever experienced. There is little comfort to be had when a parent, particularly one that you relied on so heavily, passes. I found myself drawn to anything that would bring me closer to him, to his energy. That's how I found myself at a tarot card reader.
Melissa Quote Block
It was not intentional. I did not seek out a psychic in some desperate plan to get information. I was at The Forks with friends and spur of the moment decided to go in. It was supposed to be silly and fun. I'd had my cards read years ago and found a lot of what was said came true. So I figured why not and convinced my cousin to go with me.
Side note: It should be clearly stated that I am, in fact, into this "garbage". I don't necessarily believe in spirits, ghosts, crystal balls and magic. I believe in patchouli incense, and being attuned to nature and your body, and crystals, and herbs, and karma, and everything happening for a reason. I'm a bit of a hippie whack-job. I get it. 
When I walked into the reader's tent that day, I had no intention of seeking out spiritual guidance or "making contact" with the other side. I just wanted to know if he could get anything about my life right. I wanted to know if I should write that book (I should), if I would fall in love this year (I will?), and if my career was the right choice (it is).
But the moment I stepped foot inside that tent, everything changed. I'm a firm believer that the majority of tarot card readers are full of bullshit. This is not something I've ever done because I thought they would tell me my life. It was fun. It was a cool experience. And if anything, it gave me and my friends something to laugh about.
But not that day. Not this time. The moment I walked in, I knew something would be different. When I sat down at the table he studied me quietly for a minute before stating, "something tragic has happened in your family." I gave no response. I never give visual clues to the reader so they can't latch on to a reaction and run with it. I stared back blankly as he continued. The conversation went as follows:
Him: "I don't normally do this... this is typically an extra charge. But... something... something is urgent here and I feel needs to be said. Both parties need this."
Me: "Okay..."
Him: "Someone wants you to know they are okay. He keeps repeating 'I'm okay, I'm okay, tell her I'm okay'."
Me: *internally screaming* "Excuse me?"
Him: "He wants you to know he is no longer suffering, he's at peace, and he's okay. He says he's not sad but he's not happy but that's okay. He wants you to know that he's here, he has been the whole time, and you can reach out to him when you need. Look for him in your dreams. he says he's going to visit in dreams. He's a goofy guy, was recently sick. Did your dad pass away?"
Me: "Are you fucking kidding me?"
I then proceeded to burst into tears and apologize for my language. I was absolutely dumbfounded. Could this have all been fake? Maybe. Did I care? Not one bit. I needed this. I needed this so bad. The moment I heard the words "I'm okay" I swear a weight was lifted off of my heart. the rest of the reading went fairly normal, aside from him knowing my dog's name was related to the moon (her name is Luna) and that he kept repeating "he wants you to know he is okay".
From that day on, I didn't deny myself the right to talk to him out loud. I didn't deny myself the right to believe that his energy was around me. From that day on, my dad's death became a little more bearable. Will it ever be easy? Never. His death has changed me in ways I will never fully understand. But every day I let him know I'm leading a life I hope he will be proud of. I tell him I love him every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to sleep. I wear him around my neck in a necklace full of his ashes.
And in case you were wondering, he visited my mom in her dreams a couple of days later; before I had told her about my experience. And that dream was him hugging her and saying "Cathy, I'm okay."
Coincidence? I'd like to think not.


  1. I had a dream about a month after my dad passed away where we were walking down the road. I knew in my dream that he had passed away and I told him how much I loved him and missed him. I also asked him if he was okay and he told me that he was. I woke up right after but I firmly believe that he is truly okay ♥ I loved reading this, btw.

  2. Oh my god, this brought me to tears. I love what you said about energy. I'm so glad you had that experience with the tarot card reader. Thinking of you! x