Spirituality

The Chaos of Grief

Posted on Updated on

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

 

In grief, we create distractions — working harder, drinking, writing, drugs, traveling, volunteering, gambling. Whether or not they serve the highest good for us, the distractions wrap us up like a warm blanket, creating a white noise around our screaming hearts.

I have several distractions shared between work, classes, my meditation and Reiki practice, writing my book, Sunday drives, volunteering and meeting up with numerous friends. For the last two years, just about every day/night has been filled with an activity. But there have been moments, when a pocket of free time finds its way to me.

And that is when I feel the “chaos.”

The physics meaning of “chaos” is “behavior so unpredictable as to appear random owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.” But the chaos of grief is that it was the result of a MASSIVE change in our lives. And the “unpredictable behavior” is a response to quelling the pain so that we do not fully lose ourselves. For myself I quell the noise by going to the casino.

When Derek was alive, we used to go to the casino only when my hand “itched” or when Derek had a dream of our number 123. And just as sure as we were of our intuition, we would head to AC to Empire and win a handsome amount. We would then treat ourselves to a celebratory dinner or brunch (if we stayed up all night) and would tuck the rest away for safe-keeping. Sometimes we would go to AC just to walk the boardwalk just enjoying the lights, music and energy of the place.

After he passed, when I hand would itch I would go to the casino and hear Derek direct me to the slots — I would play and stop just when telepathically he would say that the machines were done. While I was winning money, being at the casino felt empty  and yet I also felt anchored to a memory that had implanted memories of me and Derek deeply into myself. For me, the money did not matter as long as I was able to pretend for a moment that Derek was alive and with me. And so my “chaos” became driving to Empire Casino regardless of if my hand itched or not. Sometimes I would just sit and not play listening to the ringing of the Slot machines around me watching people win and lose. And sometimes I would play and lose big. Last night was one of those nights.  But as I drove the solitary road back over the Tappan Zee bridge, I heard my voice tell me that I was trading one pain for another.

I woke up with those words still ringing in my ears along with the song “Breathe Me” by Sia.

Just as portrayed in the video below, grief pulls all the “sides” of us out that are hurting and depressed — the child, the playful joker, the mother, the friend, or the lover. And in those moments when we feel like we’re falling we find support in outlets that do not serve our highest good. However, it is also important to embrace and celebrate those moments because in them we find our greatest strength. And we also realize that the work that we do for ourselves is not just for us but for all others who feel like falling.

So in the realization of being aware of my “crutch” I do not judge myself but lovingly know that every day is a new day to listen to our inner experience and reassure myself that whatever I have experienced in “that past moment” will not become my “NOW moment.” There will be many times when I will fall but I am now aware that each one makes me wiser and more graceful in navigating my choices. There are no mistakes in life as each event brings us into an opportunity to unconditionally love and accept ourselves and others.

 

Sia – Breathe me from PK on Vimeo.

Lyrics: “Breathe Me” – Sia

Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I’ve lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Vanity Plate Moments and Finding New Connections

Posted on Updated on

Perhaps the stars in the sky, are loved ones letting us know they are near, by guiding us through the night | Author Unknown

Our loved ones are always around trying to let us know that they are okay or are always near to watch or guide us. And sometimes they will go through extraordinary lengths to get our attention. However for the widow/er sometimes it’s like a being in a crowded mall with your child and you bump into an old friend. There are so many noises and stimuli including the conversation of catching up with your friend that you don’t always immediately hear your child calling for your attention.

For myself, I had so many emotions and “noises” going on in the first weeks after Derek passed, I couldn’t hear him grabbing for my attention with the exception of the truly extraordinary like when the car radio would play the same song over and over or the time when I felt like I was being woken out of bed by no one in the room (that is a story for another time).

Derek and I used to talk, text or I.M. each other almost non-stop throughout the day — the only time we were not in contact was when we were in meetings. With him gone, I missed that constant contact that soundboard to bounce ideas from, to share stories or to just say “I love you.” It was frustrating to me because there were so many signs pointing to him being present but I couldn’t hear him…

…That is until I lowered the noise in my heard and learned to tuned in to the “right station.”

It began three months after Derek’s passing. I was spending the day with my friend and her 2 god-children in Poughkeepsie. We were returning from my favorite place — Cracker Barrel and were dropping the boys off home. The music was playing and the spirits were high in the car.  The melodies of Barry White were drifting in the background and my friend was recounting stories…stories that I vaguely remember. I was sitting deep in my thoughts wondering why I was still “here?” More importantly, what was I going to do “here” now that my soul mate was gone? Silent tears began to fall…

In an instant the music stopped; the string of thoughts stopped as I heard a voice tell me to look up. In front of me was a white Hyundai SUV stopped in front of us at the light. The license plate said “VALUVAL.”

I stared at that plate for a long time as I couldn’t believe what was in front of me. Of all the places, of all roads of all times, I would stop right behind a car that would hold so much meaning for me. My relationship with Derek changed in that instant. He wasn’t gone, he never left …I just couldn’t hear him.

While my communication with Derek has evolved and expanded, I still talk to him in the most visible way possible — through license plates. Usually, I will ask a question and there will be a car in front of me or near me answering that question.

Below are just a couple of examples of my communications with Derek through this medium. Every time I see a new one I still smile in loving awe and amazement — even the very small and subtle messages. I had to let go of the control of wanting my communication with Derek to be the way it used to. I had to let go of the idea that he had fully abandoned me. He wasn’t going to answer the many texts or emails I left him telling him how much I missed him. He wasn’t going to call me on the phone to tell me he loved me. But when I let go and opened my mind and heart to accept whatever happened, we found a new way of communicating.  And in that, I found that  we are never without them and they are never without us.

March 2013: The one year anniversary is approaching in three months and my anxiety attacks have returned. I find myself in moments when I’m not breathing…

On this late night I’m heading to the supermarket to pick up a couple of items. I get out of the Clarkstown-20130309 - Exxhalecar and emotions begin to overwhelm me; I find myself on the verge of crying again — I put my shades on so no one sees my eyes.  As I return to the car, right in front of  me is the plate – “EXXHALE.” I had been holding my breath again and I finally exhaled>

April 27, 2013: I had just finished my journal entries that was part of my weekly homework in my new Path of Light class. I decided to go out Orangetown-20130427-Maitreya1and take one of my weekend drives and mediate on what I had learned about always being conscious to shine our light into the world. As I was driving, I started to think about how excited I was to be in this class and wondered what the topic of discussion would be for the next week. Just as I was thinking of this a car turned out from a gas station in front of me. The license plate said “MAITREYA.” That following Wednesday in class we received a channeled lesson from Lord Maitreya in disconnecting from the mass consciousness.

IMG-20131028-NewWay1October 2013: It’s been a little over a year since I’ve learned to look for signs from Derek through license plates and yet I still find myself questioning whether my communications with him are real. On my walk home from the bus stop, I found myself posing that same question. I kept wondering how would we communicate effectively? I felt like Derek and I were speaking two different languages and I was not feeling confident that I was “doing it correctly.”  I pulled out my key to open the door; I fumbled and dropped them on the ground. As I stooped over to pick them up, I noticed the license plate “NEWWAY.” Yes, we were learning a new way to talk and I just  had to trust in my ability to get the message that I needed.

March 22, 2014: Was going through a particularly emIMG-20140322-Undead1otional day. Both our anniversary and my birthday was coming up in April and I was feeling Derek’s absence more than ever. I went to the mall hoping to distract myself with a movie. The tears began to flow as I entered the parking lot. I started talking to Derek on how much I missed him. In that moment I doubted that he was really with me — I said to myself that he was dead and that I was making everything up in trying to believe that he “existed.”  As I pulled into a parking spot, there in front of me was a Jeep Liberty with the license plate said “UNDEAD.” Even through the tears, I had to laugh and thank Derek for “bringing me back.”

 

I’ll Love You For A Thousand Years

Posted on Updated on

Over thirty years ago, a little boy from Connecticut dreamed of being friends with a brown-eyed girl with red suspenders and pig tails. In the Bronx, that little girl knew that she would be with a boy with sparkling blue eyes. And when she finally met him for the first time, she told him ‘she was going to marry him’ to which he replied ‘thank God, I thought you would have found me crazy had I said it first.’

That night I was blessed with the gift of my twin soul connection – the other half of my soul. P100018000

Through Derek I learned that no matter how many people I’ve lost in my life, I had an enormous love to share with the world.

I learned that fear was a choice as I explored the world and the deepest and best parts of myself with wonder and enthusiasm. Derek learned how unconditional love can transform the deepest part of a being (no matter how hurt or damaged) into an illuminated being of love. I also learned how to drive really, really fast. J

It has been a year, since my illuminated twin soul has left this physical world. And not a day passes that I do not wish to look upon those sparkling blue eyes. But, as he promised, Derek has never left my side and in the last year, I have been blessed and have learned more than I ever could imagine.

 I’ve learned that:

Love Never Fails.” This was on the cross that I received from an anonymous sender the day Derek passed, but it speaks to the truth that true love, unconditional love lasts beyond this physical world and radiates forever. Derek supports me every day in the mundane and magical sense and my life has been forever changed.

I’ve learned that we are divine beings having a human experience. And we can make our choices in life either based on FEAR or LOVE. I may have experienced death more than most but I always strive to operate out of love and compassion.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, I have learned that I am LOVE and am LOVED. I thank God for my family especially at NBC and my core group who hold my hand every day, make sure that I am breathing when I forget how to and know when I say that “I’m Ok” that sometimes I am Ok but most of the times I’m not just trying to be strong and that’s “OK.” I am also blessed that Derek has guided me to meet “angels” who like myself have lost their soul mates and through the journey have taught me incredible strength, love and compassion. I love you all.

I’m only mid-way in my journey and have so much more to learn and be inspired by. The pain is still ever-present and I acknowledge that it will be a part of me today, tomorrow, 5 years from now or until the day I pass into the next realm. But the one lesson that I’ll never forget is that “I have loved Derek for a thousand years; I’ll love him for a thousand more.”

What I’m Reading

Posted on Updated on

As I mentioned in a recent posting, while I have not been writing much over the last few weeks, in the period of “abstinence” I have been reading several books on various topics nonstop.

The interesting thing about all of this is that since Derek’s passing, I’ve found it extremely difficult to concentrate on anything for too long nor am I able to hold my thoughts together without having to write them down mulitple times on paper. Yet all of these issues disappear when I am reading.

Below are three book reviews by renowned mediums whose personal stories and experiences brings insight to those grieving or who have questions about death and the afterlife. Please note that I will share reviews on the other four books, with a different focus from this grouping shortly.

Never Say Goodbye: A Medium’s Stories of Connecting with Your Loved Ones ~ Patrick Mathews

Renowned medium, Patrick Mathews’ shares true stories from his readings to illustrate how our loved ones never die. In fact, they benefit from communicating with us just as much as we do. This book also provides an understanding and guide into how to open our hearts and minds in order to connect with our loved ones through meditation and practice lessons.

Psychic Intelligence ~ Terry and Linda Jamison

Upon first glance it can easily be thought that this book’s sole focus is on how to become a psychic. While “Psychic Twins” Terry and Linda Jamison, provide insight into how we can communicate with our loved ones through the development of either our Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, Clairsentience, or Claircognizance, this book provides a wonderful understanding of how to develop our own personal strength.

The change in our lives as a result of a loved one passing on, is scary. The fear of letting ourselves feel whatever we need to feel leads us into becoming emotionally numb. By honing in on the quiet, still voice inside each of us we can slowly heal ourselves while enhancing our intuition.

Heaven and Earth~ James Van Praagh

When a loved one passes, we start questioning “the mysteries of life and death.” Through real-life testimonies and stories, medium James Van Praagh, provides clarity on some of our questions as well as shows us how to open our awareness to those on the other side. Per Van Praagh, we are all naturally blessed with psychic gifts. This book invites us to discover our talents and intuition allowing us to strengthen our relationships with our loved ones on the other side.

Reflections: Heaven Can Wait

Posted on Updated on

A couple of weeks ago, my dear fellow blogger and friend, Sarah Treanor referred me to a book called The Gift Giver by Jennifer Hawkins.

I will provide a full review of the book shortly, however I will say that I found myself crying and nodding my head in solidarity with the Author as she described some of her experiences following the sudden death of her husband.

One such moment in the book, is of Jennifer recounting a memory when upon experiencing the lost of her step-mother through cancer, she finds herself at the bookstore in the efforts of trying to understand the “mysteries of life.”  She stumbles upon the book — Home with God  by Neale Donald Walsch. This is a book that I myself, stumbled upon and read to help me understand the mysteries surrounding life and death and to answer the ultimate question “Why did this happen?”  See my review on this book in my “What I am Reading section.

While reading Home with God and how the Universe gives us an opportunity at the moment of death to choose whether we want to live or die, the Author realizes that she had a near death experience in a moment during a car accident before meeting her husband.

Like the Author I didn’t realize the relevance of my near death experience until I also read Home with God. I think many of us see a near death experience as a moment of seeing a white tunnel hearing angelic voices around us. However these moments can occur multiple times in a span of nanosecond. Nearly missing a car that has sped through a traffic light, having a severe allergic reaction to medication or food, complications during childbirth — these are all moments when our souls may be faced with death. In the moments when our lives are in danger, the author in Home with God suggests that we have the information and power to choose our “destiny.”

We are at cause in the matter of everything that is going on in our life — including our death. [HWG: Ch. 10, Pg. 59].

The ideal suggests that while we may not be consciously aware, our superconscious or soul has the free will to make a choice at the time of death if it wants to “cross over” or reverse the death and continue experiencing what it came to Earth to experience.  At the time of our near or death’s experience, our souls will get a sneak peek into seeing and feeling Heaven. It will then be asked if it’s ready to move on. If the soul has a thought or feeling of wanting to keep living, then it will return to the body and the accident or death will be adverted.

Now, this ideal can be upsetting because if the soul is able to choose, why would it choose to leave a life of loved ones behind?

“Nearly every person who is dying is not dying for the first time. If they choose, this time, to “stay dead,” it is because they feel really complete with what they came here to do. Therefore, do not begrudge them their moving on, nor feel angry because they have not come back. They came back to you many times to keep you company before.” [HWG: Ch. 32, Pg. 260)

Neale’s dialogue with God would suggest that consciously we normally wouldn’t make that choice. However the soul is able to make the choice because it can not only see into its future but it can also see the whole picture of what the effects of its living or dying would produce. It knows when its time of experiencing in the physical life is complete. In fact, a soul has probably made the choice multiple times in their physical lifetime to come back in order to stay with their loved ones.

Now while my account of the memory of my near death experience may differ in account from those who shared the experience with me because we all viewed it different standpoints, the feelings and emotions surrounding the event remain the same.

Spring 1999

I was heading back upstate to college after spending a typical weekend in the city. On Fridays and Saturdays, I would drive down from Colgate in Hamilton, NY to New York City to work as a Head Hostess at the Central Park Boathouse. I had worked at the Boathouse over the last couple of summers and had agreed to work during the weekends when I wasn’t performing Sound or DJ’ing. This weekend was particularly busy with more people dining out because of the beautiful 65 degree weather and me having to work doubles.

I had invited two girlfriends to ride back up with me as they were spending that weekend with their families and I didn’t see the point of them taking the 6 hour bus ride back up north. Plus it was good to have company for a change.

We met up around 4PM and started to make our trip back up. I realized I was additionally thankful for the company when one of them offered to drive up allowing me to rest a few hours. Sleep came easily to me as I had been on my feet and had been working non-stop through the weekend and the Sunday Brunch rush.

I was awaken by the urgent tapping of my girlfriend who was driving. While we were basking in 65 degree “shorts weather” in the City, we  were welcomed to a blizzard and 30 degree weather on the back roads near Roscoe, NY.

By this time, my girlfriend in the back had also woken up and we instructed our friend to stay steady until we made it off the mountain as we could both tell that she was becoming nervous and we intended to switch sides. Being that I had a 2 door hatchback, I always kept a few cinderblocks in the back to weigh down the car. However the wind was so strong the car kept slipping along the fresh snow. This made her worry even more and tighten her grip on the steering wheel as if it were glued to her hands.

In the next moments, the car shifted to the right and as if pushed was jerked all the way to the left side and off the road. At that precise moment, the song, “Slow Down” by Brand Nubian came on the radio.

The car went straight out and felt like it had nose-dived down into the blackness of the night. I can tell you that when you don’t know whether you’re facing an accident or worse  you don’t scream and neither do you “brace yourself” as we hear so often spoken in car crash scenes as depicted in movies. In a moment that seemed to both last forever and in a split second, I was silently sending love out to all of those that I knew I would leave behind.

However as that car fell down, in an instant I knew we would all be okay. With this thought the car landed into something however we were still in a 90 degree angle. Because it was so dark outside, we almost didn’t want to move but my girlfriend opened the door to see where we were. My other friend opened the back door, not feeling or seeing anything but hearing a loud rushing sound below. She told us to close the doors and to not get out of the car. The only way we would be attempting to exit would be through the hatchback as that seemed the safest route. We first had to put on a few layers of clothes as we had dressed for the 65 degree weather back home.

After we quietly changed we slowly opened the hatchback and crawled through the car and out into the unknown groping for rocks or any kind of earth to move us up onto the road.

Just as we made it up to the top, we heard the welcoming sound of a fire engine siren. The officials said that a driver of a passing by tractor-trailer called in the accident.

The Fire Department used a crane to pull the car up. The car had miraculously wedged itself in between two rock formations and came out without a scratch on it. We realized that we had nearly missed a ravine that plunge down to a river below.  As we walked into the EMT truck we began to laugh so much so that the medics thought we may have had a concussion. We declined a trip to the hospital that night and got back into the car which I had immediately named Angel. 

However different or the same our experience of that night was, we drove the rest of the way to school with a new perspective on how easily our “adventure tale” to our friends the next day could have gone a lot differently. The car could have gone right and straight off of the mountain instead of to the left. It could have moved a few inches passed the place where it wedged itself between the rocks crashing into the water. Had the car not slowed down right before skidding off, we could have crashed into on-coming traffic. There were so many minute paths during that accident that could have create an alternate reality for all of us. And yet everything happened precisely the way it was supposed to in order to ensure our safety.

What I’m Reading Now: Home with God – In a Life That Never Ends ~ Neale Donald Walsch

Posted on Updated on

It has been a while since my last posting. While I am unable to adequately express the feelings that I’ve been dealing with during this “moment of silence,” the closest and yet imperfect thought that comes to mind is “I’m Coping.”

Within this period of reflection and meditation, I’ve read several books which I will share with you all during the next few days.

I cannot explain the reason behind this voracious reading except that I feel that Derek has guided me towards each of these books as they have provided its own personal source of comfort and answers to the nagging question of  “WHY?”

In the final Conversations with God series, Home with God is an astonishing and profound spiritual book that helps to open up the dialogue about our soul’s journey in life, death and the afterlife. The conversation opens with this poignant thought:

“It is impossible to live or to die without God, but it is not impossible to think that you are. If you think that you are living or dying without God, you will experience that you are. You may have this experience as long as you wish. You may end this experience whenever you choose.” [HWG, Chapter 1, P. 1]

Reading this book was an Ah Ha moment for me as it helped me to form my own truth that every death has a significance and helps to shape and form the life of another person. Therefore ensuring that no death is in vain and is of divine perfection. Now, I am not saying that our loved ones choose to leave us and intentionally drive us to pain and sorrow. But our lives are interconnected through love and when we experience a death it brings a message to us about the extraordinary meaningfulness of the life which has passed as well as our own life. Once we hear the message we seek to honor that life by sharing our stories and demonstrating love for others thereby causing a Butterfly Effect, changing other people’s lives as well.

Whether or not you believe that Neale’s conversations were channeled through Source itself, this book offers a thought-provoking look into the transition from life to death allowing us to form our own truths about ourselves and death.

I have also found this be a comforting book for not only those who have lost a loved one but for caregivers looking to offer comfort to those who are critically ill or in their final stages at Hospice. There is a prayer in the end assuring us that God is always with us as we’ve never left Home. Whether we believe in Him or not, we are never alone as He and our loved ones are always nearby ready to welcome us back to our original life.

“Know for a certainty that when you leave here, you will be again with all those who have held a place in your heart and have gone before. And do not worry about those you leave behind, for you will see them, too, again and again, and love them too, again and again, through all eternity, and even in the present moment. For there can be no separation where there is love, and no waiting where there is only Now.” [HWG, Chapter 35, P. 296-297]

Signs and Messages: Dragonfly

Posted on Updated on

They that love beyond the world
cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies| William Penn

I had originally intended to make tonight’s posting about two books I have been reading — Heaven and Earth by James VanPraagh and Psychic Intuition by Terry and Linda Jamison. However as I started to type, I felt the need for some background noise and decided to look for a movie to watch. So, it wasn’t just a coincidence that I would open the video cabinet and see the movie title, Dragonfly staring right at me.

Since Derek’s passing, I’ve been graced with the presence of dragonflies. An insect that I may have seen only a couple of times in my lifetime, has been appearing everywhere — in front of my home, darting around the car as I commute to work; I’ve even seen them in the city.

Dragonfly at Bear Mountain

Their presence has been so noticeable I had to look up their symbolism: Dragonflies are a symbol of spiritual awakening, rebirth and immortality. When mating, dragonflies form a heart shape so they are also a symbol of love. The spirit of love is evident in this film.

In the movie, Kevin Costner plays, Joe Darrow, an Emergency Room doctor mourning the death of his wife in a bus accident in South America. Overcome with grief, he begins seeing signs of his wife trying to reach to him from beyond the grave — some of it revolving around a dragonfly which was representative of a birthmark on his wife’s shoulder and was her totem.

As  Joe, who is an atheist, tries frantically to make sense of it all , his colleagues and friends begin to worry that he is losing his mind. In a pivotal scene in which Joe is tying to make sense of everything, his close friend, Miriam (played by Kathy Bates) tells him, “You gotta do the hard stuff, like I did. Like everyone does. You gotta clean out the closets, empty the drawers… and take down the vacancy sign that says “Emily’s ghost is welcome here”…and get on with your life without her.”

Even when others tried to stop him, he persisted in the belief that Emily was reaching out to him.  As he began “opening his mind and heart to faith”, he was led to a small village in Columbia where he discovered that his wife had given birth to a child before she passed. When he sees his daughter he realizes that she too has a dragonfly birthmark. Had Joe listened to the ego instead of his intuition, we would have missed his miracle. “What she (Emily) taught me in life, she taught me in death…to trust, to have faith. Because as a friend of mine once said, “It’s belief that gets us there.””

Our loved ones are always around to support us with their love and guidance. However it is only when we put ego aside and believe that we are able to see their signs.

Derek used to tell me that we were a “power-soul” couple. While it is suggested that we have multiple soul mates in life, he knew that it has always been just the two of us through all of our lifetimes and that our love in this lifetime would be so strong that it would radiate beyond death.

Since, the moment of Derek’s passing he has been giving me messages of love and has been guiding me towards a journey of spiritual awakening. While the sadness and pain of his loss is very real, the last three months have been a miracle. I am blessed to have a guardian angel who has never left my side and who blesses me with signs and messages that re-affirms that love never dies. He is helping me to find my life’s purpose and to live life as authentically as possible. Had I listened to others and just moved on I would have missed this miracle. Because of the strength of our love I never faltered in faith, and because of that I see life differently — I feel life differently. I see and feel how our paths and its actions and inactions are all interconnected.

Even in spirit, Derek always has his arms wrapped around me and I welcome it with extreme gratitude. I feel his physical loss everyday, but I’ve learned that in death a new life comes into the world. In Derek’s passing, a new life of love has been born through me that continues to amaze me. “Love Never Fails” whether in this life or in the next and it is belief in the power of that love that gets us there.

Welcoming a Soul Back Home

Posted on Updated on

“I dropped a tear in the ocean, and whenever they find it I’ll stop loving you, only then.” | Anonymous

Why are we drawn to the Ocean? Is it the salt air or the sound of waves crashing against the shore? Or is it the wonder of its vastness and sight of a boundless world filled with life and mystery? For Derek the ocean was his home as it provided a source of freedom.

Atlantic City was Derek’s favorite place. He loved watching the life of the boardwalk — there were people dancing, eating with friends, going on rides at the carnival, taking pictures, running or quietly sitting on a bench patiently waiting for their next adventure.

We traveled to Atlantic City often — sometimes for a few hours or for a couple of days. Where there was water, Derek wanted to be near it. It was therapeutic for him and I just loved sharing those moments with him. During one of our trips to A.C., an elderly woman approached us asking us about a building that lay at the other side of the beach. As Derek started to explain, he stopped to look at the woman and asked to take a picture of her. She hesitated for a moment but then kindly obliged. He took several pictures and as he put the camera away he just started smiling at her. He asked the woman if she would stay and talk for a bit and over the next hour we stood listening to her story of how she came to America from Austria, moved to Seattle, Washington as she was in an interracial marriage and at the time it was one of the few places that made them feel welcome. She would later divorce this gentleman and raise her two children to New Jersey as a single mother and would work in one of the government buildings at the former World Trade Center. On the day of the 9/11 attacks, a voice told her to take a day off and go to Atlantic City. Now retired, she makes trips to A.C. to mediate. When she finished her story, Derek thanked her and gave her a hug. When he asked for her name, she said that she would give it the next time they met again. Almost knowingly Derek  said that it was a date and they would continue the conversation the next time he returned. With one last smile, she blessed us and remarked how beautiful it was to see us finally together and how our love would last through eternity. As she left and moved onto the boardwalk we almost couldn’t believe how quickly she was walking — it looked like she was becoming younger with each step as her body straightened up. When we could no longer see her, Derek took my hand tightly and said “We just met my guardian angel.”

That was the last time Derek would physically visit Atlantic City.

I asked a girlfriend to accompany me to Atlantic City on Sunday as I knew that he would want to be near the ocean again. It would be the first time traveling back there since Derek’s passing however as soon as I arrived it felt like home. All of the memories with Derek poured over me like love.

The morning before I left, my girlfriend and I walked out to the Tropicana, his favorite hotel, and walked out towards the beach. The day was overcast and a little windy. The cold water welcomed me as I walked into it silently releasing my wishes for Derek and a small container with his ashes in it. As if returning a “Thank you” the sun came out and shone brightly over us.

“Maybe Derek will swim to Europe.” my girlfriend said smiling. I jokingly replied that the currents would bring him to Bali — one of the last places he was wanted to travel to because it was so warm. As I looked out toward the horizon, I knew wherever he was going, he was with his guardian angel.