My wife Anne left this level of being two weeks ago. In that short time, there have been so many manifestations of her continued presence and involvement with others in this world that I thought I would write a bit about what has happened.
Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to talk about how profoundly, deeply conditioned we are to look outward into the world around us. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s our nature. Our bodies and our senses direct us into the world around us. Many—if not most—of us, especially in the modern world, live by the assumption that our bodies and the world we see around us are all that exists. Some of us still cling to old beliefs that tell a different story. But very, very few of us are like Anne, who did not share any of the old religious beliefs, but did believe in the soul.
She didn’t just believe in a subjective sense. Because of her near death experience in 2005 and an event in our old cabin in upstate New York a few years earlier, she had proof of the soul on an objective, if personal, level.
As a result of this, she died like many people who have NDEs, without even the slightest unease. She wrote eloquently about it in her diary entry, "the Love that Led Me Home." You can read the whole diary here. These lines from it are relevant to this discussion: "All that really survives of us is the love we have made in the world. It’s a simple truth that will stay with me forever, even when I pass again across the threshold, this time never to return. Especially then."And that is what remains of her, the love that filled her being, and has now become her being.
Before she lost consciousness, she was eagerly looking forward to her new experience, and ready to go. Among her last acts were gentle efforts to comfort me and our kids. When it came time to die, she turned toward it without fear.
The first things that happened took place in the days prior to her death. On the Friday before, I read a review in the newspaper about a movie called “Diary of a Teenage Girl” that I thought Anne would really enjoy. Later, when I went in to our bedroom to wake her up, her first words were, “When are we going to the movie?” She was no longer able to get around, so I had to tell her that we couldn’t go. The day after she passed, I went to the movie for both of us.
On the next day, which was Saturday, one of our caregivers had a powerful sense that Anne was not in her body, but was hanging in the air above the bed. There was a sense of great happiness filling the room. Then she got a message: Anne wanted new pajamas, something pretty in which to spend her last days. So powerful was this communication that the caregiver immediately rushed out and bought Anne a lovely new pair of pajamas.
On Monday morning, Anne was now semi-conscious. I was in the most powerful emotional state I had known until that time. As always, we slept side by side, hand in hand. When I had squeezed her hand during the night, she had squeezed back, but now the squeeze was getting weaker and weaker. I asked her if she could hear me. She nodded weakly, so I spent the day reading poems that we loved, “Song of the Wandering Aengus,” “There was a Child Went Forth,” and “Ode on Intimations of Immortality Recollected from Early Childhood.” I read Ecclesiastes and Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy from “Ulysses” and many of the couplets from Joe Brainerd’s “I Remember.”
On Tuesday morning when I woke up, it was to another explosion of joy. I felt as if she was no longer in her body, but nearby. Later, our son came in and she was able to put her one good arm around him and whisper what were to be her last words to him, “I love you.”
I did not want her to hear me crying, so I stepped into our little office where I was surprised to see a book entitled “Physics from Fisher Information” lying out on one of the bookshelves. What was so surprising about this was that nobody had touched this book in years. I asked everybody who might have been in the room, and nobody had pulled it out. Lying on the cover was a note to go to page xxx. The note had been inside the book, now it was lying on top of it. When I went to the page, I read an underlined passage, “…this implies that, somehow, a single measurement is equivalent to an infinity of measurements over all space. How could this occur? An obvious answer is that the single measurement takes place when all of space is squeezed into a single point. This, presumably, is the Big Bang. The implication of this is that a single observation of the metric occurred at the onset of the universe, and this generated the Wheeler-DeWitt equation for the pure radiation universe which existed then. In other words, the gravitational structure of the universe was created out of a single, primordial quest for knowledge.” When I read those last few words, I was reminded again of Anne’s diary about her NDE, and the importance of love, and I felt the immense, abiding love that is behind the phrase, "a single, primordial quest for knowledge." The knowledge, gleaming through the vast desert of the universe and the struggles of the living, is the knowledge of love.
Pointing this out was extremely useful to me, and the way in which it was brought to my attention has greatly amplified its value. I have been working hard on a way to think about God that makes sense in a creation so vast. These few words have greatly clarified my thinking, and will enable me to take another crucial step along the path I have been walking for fifty years.
Now, Physics from Fisher Information has been bypassed in the scientific community by the rise of more mechanistic ideas of physics, but that hardly means that it’s wrong. In fact, I think that Anne directed my attention to that passage, which I have taken to mean that, looking at it from the much broader and deeper intelligence of the soul, she felt that it has important substance.
On Tuesday evening, Anne was no longer conscious. Her breathing was very light. The hospice nurse had come and said that she would pass during the night. My emotional state was now extreme. I was powerfully, deeply awake. Anne was right there. We were in communion. I could feel her around me and within me more intensely than I had ever known before.
At about seven-thirty, we were toasting her when I felt her call me, telling me that I had to come into the bedroom at once, because she was dying right now. I leaped up from the table, ran in, threw my arms around her and as her last few breaths came, said again and again, “goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.” Her last breath was as soft as the rising of a shadow in the dawn. I said to my kids, “mother has died.”
Anne’s life was devoted to finding and spreading joy, and at this moment I felt it at once as the greatest anguish and the deepest, most abiding happiness I think that I have the capacity to feel. We have both spent a lifetime in the Gurdjieff Work and in mediation, and I went to the place within myself that was and is shared with her. I had promised a group of friends that I would let them know the moment it happened, and at 7:45 PM I texted them the news.
One of them opened Ranier Maria Rilke’s “Letters on Life” at random. His eyes rested on page 121, and this is what he read:
“In life there is death and it astonishes me that everyone claims to ignore this fact: there is death, the pitiless presence of which we are made aware with every change that we survive because one must learn to die slowly. We must learn how to die: there is all of life. To prepare from afar the masterpiece of a proud and supreme death, of a death where chance does not play a role, of a death that is well wrought, quite happy, of an enthusiasm that the saints had known how to achieve’ the masterpiece of a long-ripened death that effaces its odious name by restoring to the anonymous universe the recognized and rescued laws of an intensely accomplished life. During a long succession of experiences beginning in my childhood, this idea of death has painfully developed within me. It has now become my inner mandate to suffer this small death with humility in order to become worthy of that event, which needs us to be grand.”
He found this passage at random, but not at random. Anne and I had a beloved teacher, William Segal, who always used to emphasize the value of opening a book at random. The fingers lead us where we need to go. In this case, though, not the fingers of the living. I feel sure that Anne took him to that page.
Later that night, at 9:20, she had just been taken away and my house was empty of her. I was sitting alone, bereft, and asking her if she still existed, and if so, would she somehow contact me. I was asking her with carefully structured intensity in my inner voice. A moment later, my phone rang. It was a dear friend, something of a psychic, saying that she’d just that moment had a message from Anne to call me. I was so grateful and surprised that I almost couldn’t reply to the woman. It was a lovely moment.
An hour or so later, I saw Anne walking toward me. She was moving carefully, as she had not been able to walk for half a year. But she was there, definitely walking, and by grace and her love showing me that she could do so once again. Her eyes had changed. They now had knowledge in them beyond what we the living have access to. When I was younger, I would see such eyes as a darkness and they were very disturbing. Now, though, I saw in them light. The tears poured down my face. It was such a wonderful thing to see.
On Wednesday afternoon, I received an email from Trish MacGregor in Florida. She and her husband Rob are frequent Dreamland guests, and Anne just loved them. She thought highly of their work and really enjoyed their interviews. They had gotten word from a mutual friend that Anne had died, and I wrote them to let them know that it had been peaceful. While Trish was writing back, what she describes in her blog as "an incredibly strange thing" happened. As she was typing "Thank you for letting us know that she died peacefully. If we can do anything to help out, in any way, please let us know," there was what she describes as "a brilliant flash of light and a huge explosion" in their house. At first they were terrified, then puzzled to discover that nothing had exploded. The house was fine. The explosion took place just as Trish typed the last "know." She says in her blog, "We think it was Anne, making her presence known." Given all that has happened, I would say that I agree with her.
Anne was and is a teacher in her essence and to her core, a great one, and this was only the beginning of the richest period of teaching I have ever known. Over the past two weeks, she has given me and others a wealth of new information and understanding. But let me continue to share it.
At six o’clock on the morning after her death, a filmmaker of our acquaintance found himself waking up. It was unusual for him to awaken at that early hour. He immediately felt the presence of Anne all around him. She said, “I have lots of ideas.” In the next moment, he found the way to end a film he has been struggling with for two years. He has a lot of it shot, but has been unable to come up with the ending. In this life, she’d been concerned about this. Now, from the next, she gave him what he needed.
When we were together, she not only edited my work, she served as my muse. She prided herself on her ability to come up with creative solutions to literary problems, and she was superb at it. She still is, it would appear.
When I was asleep on the night she died, she appeared to me in a dream. She was standing and walking—carefully, but very definitely walking. The image was so intense that it woke me right up. I lay there in my now-empty bed and I swear that I could feel her embracing me, surrounding me with her familiar, kindly love and the joy that always shimmered within her. Her strokes had paralyzed her left side, and I had spent many a night praying and wishing for a miracle that would somehow get her back on her feet. It happened, but not in this life.
The day after she died, another remarkable event took place. Anne had a masters in early childhood education, and was always available to help parents with educational questions about their children. A young couple of our acquaintance had placed their toddler in a second-choice school because their first choice had a waitlist. In life, Anne had been concerned about the school. She’d sensed that it would start the child off on the wrong foot. On that morning, the mother’s phone rang and it was the headmistress of the first choice school saying that a place had unexpectedly opened up. Of course they took it at once, and the little girl is securely going to the better school. The headmistress’s name, it seems, is also Anne.
On the second day after her passing, my kids and I decided to go out into the desert. We stayed there Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday went up from Palm Springs into the mountains, to Idyllwild. Even though I could feel and hear Anne, I was really extraordinarily lost. Only once before in the 45 years of our marriage had we been apart for more than a few days. That was in 1988 when I went on a two-week author tour to Australia and New Zealand. Now I was apart from her for five days and looking ahead to something that seemed impossible: the rest of my life apart from her.
I was sitting on a bench in the Idyllwild Nature Center thinking about Anne and the call I’d gotten. I began to think that maybe it had been a coincidence. But I wasn’t sure. Both Anne and I are good at contacting the dead. So, was it? I asked her, “was it a coincidence or are you really still aware of this world and your old lover?” Once again, my phone rang. This time, it was another friend. She said, “I just felt a sudden need to call you. I had the feeling that Anne was asking me to.”
That did it. It might have happened like that once, but not twice. Over the course of my life, I have had the luck and privilege to have so many contacts with the other world that I do not doubt that it is there, but these two were the most perfect and the most absolutely clear. Anne was there. She was aware of my thoughts. She was able to influence the minds of others to communicate with me.
I have embraced this, and made our conversation part of my inner life. Instead of “till death us do part,” I am now wearing her wedding ring beside my own on my small finger, where it just fits. Over all the years I saw that ring on her third finger, I never dreamed that I would one day be wearing it to symbolize the fact—and it is, I think, a fact—that our marriage continues.
Anne has been there not only for me and friends, but for others who have reported their encounters to me via email, and, I would guess to still more who have not done so, or who have not noticed. A huge part of communicating across the veil of death is noticing. You must be prepared and open, despite the fact that nature and so much of the education we receive in the physical sends us the messages that this is all there is.
She was the one who first noticed the connection between the visitors and as she put it, “what we call death.” Over the years, she came to deep understanding of what this might mean. She explained to me that she thought that they might live in a state where the barrier between the worlds has fallen, and the living can objectively communicate with and gain the wisdom of those who are not in the physical, but are conscious in the greater vision of timeless being. She felt, though, that such communication would not defeat the reason that we have entered the physical, which is to gain self-understanding by filtering out precisely the wisdom of timelessness that the “dead” possess. So communication would be limited to teaching. Not miracles of the body, but miracles of insight and understanding, designed to deepen and enrich one’s journey through the physical without disempowering it.
Another one came night before last. I can’t assert that this was anything but my own dream, but it expresses Anne’s ideas very succinctly, so I will repeat it here. In it, she told me that Earth is "a factory for souls." I had the impression that they emerge in extraordinary quantity and variety. The sense of immensity and complexity was pretty humbling. I asked her, "what happens if Earth dies?" The reply was pure Anne: "Oh, it will, they do all the time. But there are millions of them." Living planets, factories for souls emitting into the conscious universe these tiny particles of energy that are the outcome of life. A vast idea expressed in a few simple words. As I said, pure Anne.
She’s probably open to contact with anybody who seeks to engage with her. She’s a teacher and my sense is that she stands ready to answer questions and spread the energy of joy wherever she can.
A reader wrote that he had heard Anne say that she was returning to Earth by “going from blue to unguent blue.” He was not clear about what it meant, but it was another moment of teaching. She was in the higher vibration of light blue but moving to the darker, denser vibration of our world, explaining how the free souls move to contact those of us who are injected into physical bodies. The use of the word “unguent” is very important. It tells us a great deal about the nature of this communication. But like all such communications, it has many dimensions. It also suggests a descent into the ocean, and into the underworld. Anne felt that the oceans were in trouble, and that the life of the planet depended on them. I had the impression that there was another level of message here, about the importance of saving the seas. The night before I read this, I also dreamed that we were moving through a place of intense negativity together, but that she spent only a very short time there. It was an underwater place, populated by grim creatures–the bardo of the Tibetans, as expressed in Anne’s being.
First, unguent means an ointment, that is to say, something more dense, as this world is more dense than the one above it, and even more so the many regions beyond. It comes from Latin word, “to anoint,” with its implication “to make sacred.” It implies a touching through the veil, one that confers a holiness—that is to say, the sweet importance of contact with a healing and higher world.
But how might this work? What do the dead do when they are among us? Anne has left a teaching about that, also. Her life was and is about creating, teaching and, above all, spreading the energy we know as joy. One reader wrote, “Anne was strong on my mind during yesterday’s commute. I struggled to focus on her message to have joy, instead of crying. Just then a car pulled in front of me. The plate read, ‘Joy to u.’”
And that’s how it’s done, that’s the sort of thing to look for. Joy to you!