I never dreamed I would make so many new friends and acquaintances after being diagnosed with Leukemia. Nearly every visit to OSU for my infusion, I meet someone there who is eager to talk and share their cancer journey story with me. I have found that there is an almost instant bond when it comes to cancer warriors. It’s like we belong to a club and only we know the ‘secret handshake’ that gets us in the door. Our spouses share the same bond as caregivers. We’ve met no strangers!
The more Warriors and champions I talk with, the more I see that the common ‘thread’ we share is more like a rope! What we learn about life, love and spirituality while fighting for our lives is that common “rope”. I suppose anyone who has had a near death experience would feel the same way. Suddenly we are very aware of our mortality. Once you realize how brief our life here on earth is, you don’t want to waste that time. Once you realize how quickly and easily your life can end, your priorities change. Suddenly spending time with people that drain you or are all materialistic or drama-filled makes your skin crawl and you can’t wait to Part Company!
When I meet a fellow warrior, I feel a kinship. I know when we talk and share there is a level of understanding and compassion that is different. It’s more at the soul level. This level transcends the level we are used to living on. Once you start living at this level, there’s no desire to go back! I can’t say that I don’t fear death anymore. There are days when I find myself saying “I don’t want to be me today. I don’t want this journey”. These are times when I am facing my mortality in a negative light and it takes some effort to get over the hump. My wife is very good at helping me through these times (provided I tell her how I’m feeling). Bottom line though, I do view death much differently now.
I want to be clear here. I don’t feel that I am any better or above anyone else because I perhaps have a deeper understanding of my faith or my soul’s purpose. On the contrary! I am only on a different level than others. We are all on our own personal faith journey. There is no one right path and what works for some, doesn’t work for others. God speaks to each of us in a voice we understand best. Right now God is speaking to me through my Cancer battle. Not how I would have wanted it to be, But I am learning to be still and listen.
To view life on the ‘soul level’ is to be close to God. I am most in tune with God when I am being true to myself and what I feel is my soul’s purpose here on Earth. Whenever I start to stray from that path and try to force something I really want to happen or work out in a certain way, is when things start to fall apart. It becomes clear that I need to stop, be still and listen. How hard this can be! My ego gets the best of me and tries to be the boss!
So how do I view death differently now? Death is always equated to loss. I’ve struggled with the loss of a dear brother last march. However, I do know that his soul lives on. He has made contact with every one of his family members in undeniable ways! Despite this physical loss, if I move past that and into the spiritual level it gets really interesting and almost exciting! I’ve always enjoyed travel and (most) challenges. When this body will no longer be able to contain my soul, a new journey will begin!
As exciting as a new journey sounds, I wonder if the feelings of loss or missing loved ones will be there in that realm? I know that reuniting with those who’ve passed into this realm before me will be a beautiful thing. But just how much of our ‘feelings’ are tied to this world, this body? I know this ties directly into whatever ones religious beliefs and practices are, so I want to try and dissect it to the most basic level. I believe that no matter what particular religious affiliation we all follow, at the core of them all is exactly the same foundation stone: Love.
I believe that love transcends the bonds of this physical life and is a part of our soul being. So if the feelings of loss are tied to how much we loved someone, wouldn’t we feel that loss (in our soul) after we pass? When I have felt contact with my departed brother, it was very soon after his death; within a day or two, while the pain of the loss was very fresh. I have to think there is a connection and perhaps that connection remains open between loved ones on opposite sides of physical life as long as that strong feeling of loss is present.
I know you’ve probably heard or read stories of couples who were so in love, so connected that when one passed, the other wasn’t far behind. This is a beautiful Soul connection. Two souls connected so strongly that they desire to remain together at any cost! I know not all marriages are between two strongly connected souls, and that’s not a bad thing. I have seen a lot of great couples that I don’t believe share that connection, yet they remain solid partners till the end. I feel very fortunate to have found my soulmate in Heather. I firmly believe we share that deep soul connection that will transcend this life and we will be together in whatever comes next. We are indeed blessed.