It is now two and a half weeks since my mother “passed away.” I add the quotes because she has made quite an effort to remain in contact. She has shared some important thoughts from beyond the veil—that imperceptible barrier between the tangible reality that’s familiar to us and the extended reality we rarely if ever see. Most importantly, she wants us to know that she is not far away but right here.
It happened a day or two after my family returned from the journey we’d made to see her off into the arms of her/our beloved Jesus. I deeply believe what he said, “He who lives and believes in me will never die.” Yet as strong as I’d hoped I would be in the weeks leading up to this moment, it was so hard to embrace the absence of her physical being. We came home to find a soft, gentle presence waiting to comfort us. I knew that sweet gentleness. It was my pretty little mom, Rose, filling our house with peace. Still, I found myself contending with regrets and a profound sense of loss.
As I tried to wrap my head around the contradictions between what I felt, what I believe, and what I was experiencing, I said to her silently that I was already looking forward to reuniting with her when my own time came. Then we could be together forever. In my mind her response came strong and clear. The words seemed to grow louder and more powerful in my head until they actually came out of my own mouth. “Eternity Begins Today.” I had to laugh and thank her out loud. When you look at it that way, the concept of loss utterly loses its power.
It’s a conversation we’ve had often in our house. That when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and he begins to permeate our being, eternal replaces temporal in us in a powerful yet subtle metamorphosis that’s not always easy to detect. Though the mortal body may benefit from this for a while, it is still subject to time and therefore headed for an end. Nonetheless, our personal “forever” has already begun, and the shift changes the way we perceive time, relationships, circumstances…everything. Why is it so hard to believe this when the moment we need its comfort comes?
My husband’s brother slipped beyond the veil earlier this year. Just after he bravely made his move, our son and I joined my husband to accompany our sister in law through the early stages of her mourning. During this time we became very close. Though Mom was contending with breast cancer, I knew she could say something to comfort her, as she had been “widowed” too. I called to ask if she was feeling well enough, and she said she was happy to talk with Lily. They had a long conversation and when they hung up, Lily was glowing.
Lily and I usually talk on the phone every few days now. Long, uplifting conversations filled with laughter and tears and wisdom we both treasure. Last week we were talking about Rose, and she said that she was so grateful to have been able to talk with her but sorry she hadn’t met her in person. We cried together and I told her how much I would have loved that, and how much Mom would have loved her. Then Rose stepped forward and the words started to flow…
The sense of loss we’re feeling isn’t loss at all. It’s a personal, temporal experience of change, but there is no loss when the person still lives. This person may no longer be touched or heard or seen, but that is simply because they have left behind their shell, their physical body. This body really is like a cocoon, cozy and familiar…yet subject to the ravages of time. Moreover, it’s a very small vessel containing a spirit who, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit through our experience of life, is undergoing a transformation that will result in a being that lives beyond time. Through our experiences in this life, our best and our worst are revealed, and we have the opportunity to grow and transform as we learn to overcome the weaknesses these events reveal. This metamorphosis isn’t complete until the spirit bursts out of its cocoon, unfurling to its full magnificence.
Mom’s point was this: while she is still Rose, the weaknesses she overcame are no longer a part of her. The last of them were shed with her skin, and now it’s just a matter of learning a different way of knowing her than before. But she is not far away. “I didn’t die and go to Heaven. We are all in Heaven right now, on this beautiful planet that flies through space. I am now one more in the great Cloud of Witnesses, those who have gone before and now surround you, watching, praying, encouraging and helping you through your journeys. No one goes anywhere until the Guide returns to show us the way to the New Earth, the place he is preparing for us so we who love him can be together with him there.”
As it was revealed to my husband years ago, we have tens of thousands of years to work out the things we didn’t overcome in this life. We have eternity to get to know those we loved from afar but never met. To watch each others gardens grow, to admire their eternal selves, to say and to do the things we always wanted to but couldn’t. At least the important things…
“Do you see? There is no loss! You’re getting to know me at my best! I am the Rose who has passed through the fire and been purified by it. The Rose who now has joy beyond words and wants to share it with you. You don’t have to wait until you shed your own cocoon to meet me. Eternity Begins Today!”