Extraordinary Passages through Tragedy to Bliss
By Laurel Airica

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”1

“Mastery of the physical is not the goal of becoming conscious. Mastery of the spirit is the goal.”2

Life is a series of tests, challenges and opportunities. Love is what holds us together through it all. So, how do we find the will to live after the most significant loves of our lives end abruptly in death? How do parents recover from the irrecoverable loss of a child?

Recently, a woman came to me to help her write her story. She told me, “I’ve been blessed with experiencing the deepest state of bliss through my youngest daughter’s transition.”
Shocked as I was to have Patricia Richards say this to me, I was not wholly unprepared for such a revolutionary statement. I have another new friend — Betsy Taylor — who lost a son, a daughter, a leg — and thus her freedom. Yet, she is truly the most joyful person I have ever known.

Both Patricia and Betsy have maintained a strong, clear communication with their departed children. They are never separate from them and, in fact, their relationships continue to grow. “It is wonderful to have that ethereal connection.” Betsy explains. “It is something that is just planted inside of you by Spirit.”

Patricia confirms the experience. “Your loved one is not gone because there is no death,” she explains with the conviction of one who knows with her whole heart and soul that consciousness continues even after the body can no longer contain it. Thus, “... even though a person may transition, you are still able to be in relationship with them if you find that place of stillness within yourself...”

As soon as I heard Patricia’s story about the loss of her beloved daughter, I brought her over to meet Betsy who lives just a few blocks from my home. What stands out in my memory from that first meeting is Patricia saying something about how unaware most people are of the bliss available to them even in the death of a child. “Yes,” Betsy agreed, “if they haven’t been through that inauguration, they simply cannot know.”

But how many people who have been through such a baptism by fire are aware of this arcane truth? How many know that joy is still possible not only after the passage of years dulls the grief in their hearts — but from the very first moment they become aware of their loss, as was the case with Patricia.

On September 19, 2004 at 4 a.m., Patricia received a nearly inaudible phone call from her older daughter, Erin: “Megan — mmmmorgue,” was all she could make out. Then —
“I moved into this profound state of stillness. It wasn’t shock. I could just hear a voice saying, ‘get to the house where Erin is.’ I was calm and grounded. I could feel and hear my breath. I was very present to that connection as well as to everything around me. I was also aware — from the twelve years of Buddhist practice and teachings I had received — that life is impermanent and death is a time for celebration. ... So, I entered the deepest state of peace, bliss, stillness, joy, presence, no thoughts. And everything was effortless. I would just hear what to do next.

After returning home, Patricia sought insight on the energies surrounding Megan’s sudden departure. She drew an oracle card from a deck devoted to Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion, and read: “Like the beautiful undying crane that breathes free, you can slip the bars of your cage and journey through. North, south, east and west — nothing is obstructing you. The chun — the wise one — can rise to the highest north heaven.”

Patricia took this as a message for herself as well as Megan, for both had broken through the bars that had previously confined them to this dimension. She told me:
“By this time the sun had risen and I was sitting on the couch in a state of bliss. I heard her calling so I started looking around. She said, ‘Mom, Mom, tell everyone — if you walk slowly and quietly you will hear my laughter and you will know the place my soul has taken me. Nothing has changed except I have shed my physical body. I am joyful, I am free as a bird.”

In the week before her instant death in an auto accident — and many times before that — Megan had said to Erin, “If something happens to me, play Free Bird at my funeral.”

A bird came as a divine messenger to Betsy Taylor just before the death of her son, Bob, and later her daughter, Hope. Bob had been a strong, athletic child until about the age of 10 when he began to suffer from epileptic seizures. As he grew into adulthood, the seizures grew progressively worse. Then, one night — when he was staying over at his mother’s home:
“.... I was coming back late from USM3 where I had been serving as a volunteer. Something came over me — a sensation I had never felt before. I thought I had better pull over to the side. But then I thought, ‘No, just be aware of what’s happening.’ It felt like a strong man was pulling open my ribs and out from my heart flew a dove. I was mesmerized. And I came home and found my son had died. ... His face was so beautiful. When there is death, there is love. And I saw this love on his face. He had a young boy’s face on and it was such a comfort to me. I could see that Spirit was taking care of everything.”

After Betsy finished telling me this story, she added — “Once my son had died, that was the end of the sadness for me.” My mouth fell open. “How could that be, Betsy?” I asked her.
She explained that she had felt brokenhearted for the first month. Then, during a lengthy, spontaneous vision that literally carried her away during meditation, she entered another dimension in which she encountered her son and the beings with whom he was living. In the beauty of that realm all her grief was dissolved. “There just was no sadness in the world and there was no sadness for me. It was one of the most outstanding experiences I have ever had. It was so comforting.”

This visit to another world also prepared Betsy for the loss of her daughter, Hope, some time later. And as with her son’s transition, a dove came to inform and console her just prior to her daughter’s passing. Only this time, it was an actual wild dove that landed on Betsy’s knee and held her eyes in a fixed gaze for a long time. She told me —
“I am fascinated by the way there is another communication — that somehow God really loves us. If I hadn’t had that experience, finding my son had died, and losing my daughter, would have been devastating. But I was so stunned that I realized there was a message for me. And fortunately, I was clear enough to be able to interpret and love it. It takes my breath away.”

Among the many other challenges Betsy has faced are a severely retarded child, extreme marital discord, being struck by a car while crossing a street (hence the eventual loss of her leg), diabetes and various other medical maladies. With completely undaunted spirit she tells me ­­—
“I am at the age where I feel the nourishment of life. The fun of life. ... Life has always felt like a special reward to me. A great bundle of gifts with a surprise around every corner. Every experience is like another jewel you add to your big collection of jewels. ... All our seeming tragedies are teachers. And everybody involved in them, if they look to the higher quality of life, will see the glory in them. It’s nice because life is full of glory. It’s just a revolutionary process we’re going through. And there’s nothing tragic about it. There are circumstances beyond our control. But with that we have to give up control and see the glory, teaching, wonder and fascination of what goes on.”

I am so extremely blessed to have Betsy and Patricia as continual reminders that my quality of life is dependent on my attitude not circumstances. I share them with you now because both ladies are available to support others who are seeking to find their way back Home from grief to gratitude, from tragedy to the bliss that exists eternally at the center of all our hearts.

Patricia is an intuitive transformational coach, dream guide, reiki master and a meditation teacher who studied for years directly with the Dalai Lama. She lives in Huntington Beach and consults in person and by phone. She can be reached at (714) 613-4992. Just speaking with Patricia, I instantly regain my center.

Betsy, at the age of 80, is a USM grad, currently earning her doctoral degree in spiritual science. She welcomes callers and offers her loving wisdom on a donation basis by phone and in person — on the rooftop garden of the Berkeley East Convalescent Hospital where she lives in Santa Monica. You can reach Betsy for an uplifting conversation at (310) 745-5584.

I can’t encourage you enough to contact these two marvelous women. For as Betsy commented after reading a draft of this article, “People like Patricia and I lead a charmed life. Our lives are untouchable!” And that is possible for us all.

Laurel Airica is a communications consultant, writing coach, and freelance writer/editor living in Santa Monica, CA. She can be reached at (310) 899-1059, or email WordMagic@Earthlink.net  Also visit: www.laurelairica.com

© 2008
1    Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2.
2    Carolyn Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit, Three Rivers Press/NY, 1996.
3    The University of Santa Monica, a non-profit private university that attracts students from around the world to its graduate programs in spiritual psychology.


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