Who Stops at a Green Light?


When I was a kid, my folks, who had each nearly died as children, researched everything pertaining to health. My father planted his first organic garden in 1951 when DDT was a common household product. He lowered his blood pressure with garlic. We took vitamins—some of which I threw away because they made me burp a foul-tasting white cloud of bone meal. Soon after our town began fluoridating its water, five-gallon bottles of spring water were being delivered to our door.

Glass manadal pexel 2After my recent move from a home with delicious well water, I discovered that my new town fluoridates its water and my nice under-sink water filter didn’t remove fluoride. I added replacing the filter to my to-do list, but my mother, dead since 1984, wasn’t satisfied. She showed up the next morning, not with her usual tingle up my right side but with jackhammer force, to urge me to deal with this quickly—for both my health’s sake and my husband’s. That day we began buying water. If I have learned nothing else from after-death communication, it is that our beloved dead look out for our well-being and it’s best to heed their advice.

Sometimes our beloved dead can be lifesavers: Both Calvin’s daughter and his stepson had died. Two months after his daughter’s death, while driving, his wife heard their daughter’s voice tell her to “slow down to a stop.” She slowed, then stopped at a green light, only to watch in shock as a large truck ran the red light. She knows her daughter saved her life.

Green lt pexel 1What happened to Calvin two years after his stepson’s death was not quite so clear-cut. Coming from the gym late one night he chose the long way home, one he wouldn’t choose “ninety-nine times out of a hundred.” Then he heard his stepson’s voice say, “Good choice, Dad.” Was it he who nudged Calvin to take this route and did this prevent catastrophe? He may never know, but his wife’s experience had taught him to trust this as a possibility. To encourage such support this is a good point at which to acknowledge it with an audible thank you.

Thanks pexel 2Calvin added a story of synchronicity, telling me that twenty-five years ago, he dreamed of one of his children—he couldn’t tell which one—in a casket; in the dream it was 4:44 am. Much later, and eighteen years apart, the calls to inform him of his daughter’s and stepson’s deaths both came at exactly 4:44 am. Where do we file such events? Do they occur just to jolt us out of the narrowness of our blinkered everyday view into the great mystery of larger possibilities?

At times it’s our emotions that are “saved” by contact, rather than our lives. When her slightly older sister died of leukemia, nineteen-year-old Muriel needed reassurance. Soon after the funeral, her sister visited twice, in two identical dreams, to say she was “okay, happy even, light, free” and to give her a long, deep hug. Muriel shared these dreams with me forty-six years later, saying they still bring her joy.

Being proactive can draw exactly the contact we need, though it may require patience. In The After Death Chronicles, I write about Dr. Lynn, who still hoped, after his distant father’s death, to heal their unsatisfying relationship. As Dr. Lynn began a new and important project, he especially yearned for paternal support and asked for it in meditation; his father visited for the first time, thirty-five years post-death, saying, “I never knew what you wanted. Now I do and I will be supportive.” Of course, it helps that Dr. Lynn was already a proficient meditator, so his mind was trained to be receptive to Spirit’s messages.

When communication crosses the bridge between life and death it arrives custom fit to our needs. Muriel received a lifetime of reassurance and joy. Calvin’s wife’s life was saved (who stops at a green light?). Calvin’s dream opened him to questions he still ponders. These voices and dreams may alter our lives, leaving us with gifts we get to open again and again over years.

Gifts pexel 1To access my podcast conversation on after-death communication with Connie Whitman, Architect of Change, click on: https://bit.ly/2LmboCL  There’ll be another one coming this fall.

You may buy The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil in bookstores, through www.AnnieMattingley.com and through the following sites:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2zSaTLB
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2ljjV0I
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/2gEcr3f
Hampton Roads/Red Wheel/Weiser: http://bit.ly/2gM255a

Love’s Magnetic Pull

Love is as essential to us as food and air and water and shelter. Without love well-fed babies fail to thrive and often die. Without love the lonely elderly wither away. We are born on this earth to learn how to give and to receive love, yet each love bears within it a dark seed—that of potential for the future loss of our beloved.

The phone rings. It is my husband’s brother. His wife is in hospice. They have lived with her cancer off and on for sixteen of their fifty-five married years. We pack hurriedly and drive 400 miles in hopes of seeing her while she can still speak. We are too late. We tell her we love her anyway, believing she can hear us. Her husband sleeps (badly) overnight in a lumpy cot in her hospice room, as does her son, sometimes her sister, perhaps her other son will too when he returns. Her jaundice fades. Her face softens until she appears nearly child-like. We joke that she would have loved how smooth her skin has become. I’m tickled that her finger and toe nails are perfectly polished red. We are told she’s been seeing her deceased mom, a sign of how close death is and of the support she is receiving through the veil.

My sister-in-law possessed the strongest drive to live of anyone I’ve ever known. She kept her sense of humor through mastectomies and radiation and chemo, through falls and broken bones and reconstructive surgery, every ignominy illness and modern medical science could bring. Her hair fell out? “Freedom,” she proclaimed. “No more blow-drying! No fussing! Now I just pop on my wig.” Whether with cane or wheelchair, she traveled, took cruises, never missed a single summer of arranging an adventure she dubbed “Kids’ Camp” for herself and her husband and their grandchildren. When the cancer started in one breast and she was told it would most likely migrate to its next-door neighbor, she said, “Take ‘em both off. Give me new ones.” Checking in to her last hospitalization on a Tuesday, she told the doctors, “I must be out by Thursday. I’m going to Las Vegas.” Her failing organs canceled that trip. Beloved of all the medical personnel who treated her, when she went into hospice at home, her oncologist made her first ever house call. Her transfusion nurses visited after she transferred to the hospice facility.

She’d been reading my book and we’d talked of how she might contact me after her death. I regret that we’d never finalized our plan. He tells me he’s read my preface. I hope it helps him to recognize at least the possibility of after-death communication’s gifts. I hope he comes to understand that our essential nature continues. For now he has the love of his friends and his family as sustenance. That is the one helpful thing we have to offer—our love. There is no fixing his pain, no easing it except with temporary distraction.

Now death’s tender enigma has drawn her through its veil. The serenity of her face belies the suffering of those around her. Had she screamed in agony maybe there could have been an element of relief when body and spirit split in two, but all that remains is grief and the loneliness in her husband’s eyes. Does he look at his older brother with envy because I, his wife, still live? The grateful look my husband gives me approaches awe. I am her age. Someday our turn will come. Will it be him or me attempting sleep on a lumpy hospice cot?

We hug. I think back to our first hug, our first kiss, our first whole night together. We were not that young, in our forties, old enough to have loved and lost, yet we gave little thought to this distant future likelihood that one or the other of us would be left to the stark emptiness of our last years.

She dies on Thursday morning. Her husband tells me he will do some work on Monday so he doesn’t have to think about it. I imagine he means, so he doesn’t have to feel it, and I understand. Large grief must be doled out one drop at a time. He would drown if he felt it all at once. Yet it must be felt. If not, it eats us away from the inside out until our hollow shell crumbles and breaks, as my father’s did so swiftly following my mother’s death.

I do not fear this fate for my brother-in-law. He is making plans. His house is too big. He may move closer to us. If so, his son says he will follow. Love’s magnetic pull will be his healer. The memory of his wife’s strong drive to live will remind him to live. I’m told Kids’ Camp at her sister’s house had been discussed, because it would be closer to home, easier on her failing body. I hope the grandkids do gather in four months. Their resilient nature will help with the healing. I imagine them, two by two, huddling tearfully in corners. In between they will share fun stories of their grandmother, and laugh, remember, and play.

You may buy The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil in bookstores, through www.AnnieMattingley.com and through the following sites:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2zSaTLB
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2ljjV0I
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/2gEcr3f
Hampton Roads/Red Wheel/Weiser: http://bit.ly/2gM255a

Grief Poem #5

(inspired by Canto de Obsidiana by Gerardo Suter, MACO exhibit, 2013)

Obsidian Shard

In the length of a phone call
it entered my flesh
pierced my chest through and through
my world torn off its axis
skin, muscle, ventricle, auricle, tissue, vein
penetrated by needle-thin volcanic glass.
I do not make peace with it.
I do not accept it.
There is no resolution, no closure.
I allow. No thing more.
By now its presence is not felt
until the sound of violin, tenor, or harp
splinters its strange reality
and fills me with old shadows.

Afterward, as if melted by memory’s furnace
it re-forms into the most slender of slivers.
In the night, I caress it for comfort.
Like a genie in a bottle
rubbed the right way
it brings the precious history
restores the unbroken umbilical cord.

I begin and begin again
and in her ending my beginning
grows fiercely forward
like the saguaro grows taller, stronger from lack.
I shed my black mourning, receive the sun. 

© creativecommonsstockphotos / Dreamstime Stock Photos

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released October 6, 2017. Pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound. Find out more on my Book page at www.anniemattingley.com/books

How Will I Know It’s You?

My friend was no longer not dying. No one was driving her to the cancer center for treatments. There were no more scans, no more tracking the location of new growths. A Do Not Resuscitate notice was posted beside the door. A caretaker lived in. Hospice staff came regularly to the house. Her friends took turns bringing meals.

Today was my turn. Lying on the couch, the wheelchair nearby, she invited me to eat with her. We chatted about the weather and our families. She stirred her bean soup more than she ate it. I worried, had I made it too spicy? My mind darted back in time to how long my mother had lived after she stopped eating. Three weeks.

“How’s the book going, Annie?” We talked about my interviews. I related a couple of the after-death communication experiences I’d heard. “Why don’t I visit you?” she inquired. “After I go, I mean?”

I took a deep breath and swallowed hard before I answered. “I’d like that very much. How will I know it’s you?”

I thought she’d changed the subject when she replied with no preamble, “One day I heard a sound coming from my wood stove. When I opened the door, I found a weak bird half-buried in ash. I cleaned off its face and beak and wings. The wings were the most exquisite violet color.” Her voice had grown melodious. “I carried it outside, raised my hands high, opened them wide. When it flew off it was a release into freedom—a glorious release. That’s how I will visit you, as a violet-green swallow.” Sick as she was, her face glowed.

I trudged home, heavy-hearted. Under the looming shadow of her impending death, I gave no more thought to our arrangement. I saw her only one more time.

After she died I went out to the solace of my yard to work off my sadness. Almost at once a bird circled me and our plan popped up in my mind. Could this be her? What kind of swallow had she said anyway? A violet-something, right?

This bird landed on our empty bluebird nest box directly opposite me. In profile I was sure it was no violet-something swallow. I saw no long swallow’s tail. Its wings looked gray, not violet. The white on its head didn’t seem right either. In case I was wrong, I tossed aside my clippers and ran in for my Birds of New Mexico. In it I found a photo of a violet-green swallow perched in the identical profile. It had white on its head and no long tail. The text said when it perched its tail was hidden under its wings and I could see no violet on those wings. Instantly I knew this swallow was her!

Back outside, I lifted my tear-streaked face to the sky in gratitude and joy, my arms flung high as hers had been when she released that swallow. I was sure she too had been released out of her suffering and into freedom. Why had I not understood that making a plan for after-death communication could be so simple and so satisfying and so joyous?

In her book Dying to Fit In, near-death experiencer and nurse Erica McKenzie writes of a hospice client saying she would return to visit her as a rare white dove. After the woman’s death a white dove landed outside Erica’s window in a rainstorm so intense she feared for the dove’s life. It remained in the same spot for seven consecutive days.

Imagine if we all made such an arrangement. Imagine how much more often we could receive the comfort and reassurance of an after-death contact. Imagine how this could help us with our grief after someone we love has died.

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released October 6, 2017. Watch for pre-ordering in July.

Phoning a Dead Beloved?

Image: Akira Tana and Otonowa/Sound Circle

Years ago Isaru Sasaki chose his home site on a hill overlooking the sea above Otsuchi, Japan. In 2010, after the death of a beloved cousin, he installed a charming little phone booth in his garden with many-paned glass walls, an Asian peaked green roof, and an old-fashioned dial telephone inside, not connected to any phone line. Sasaki created this as a quiet place to grieve for and connect with his cousin. He called this the Phone of the Wind, because it is the wind that carries his voice.

One year later the earthquake-sourced tsunami that swept through Otsuchi, destroying most of the small fishing village and killing many of its residents, caused a massive meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. When Sasaki’s hilltop home was saved, he offered the use of his phone to grieving villagers or to anyone who yearned to connect with a dead beloved.

At first only villagers came, but soon there were others. One fifteen-year-old boy made a four-hour journey to the booth to talk to his father who had been swept out to sea in the tsunami. A woman whose husband had been killed and their home destroyed, dialed her house number to reach out to him in the booth. She says she felt he was listening. A grandmother, also widowed by the tsunami, continues five years later to use the phone and to bring her grandchildren to speak to their grandfather. One of them says he hears his grandpa’s voice; children can be less reticent than adults to admit such a thing.

Some people speak and hang up. Others await a response. After the teenage boy’s visit, he convinced his siblings and their mother to make the trip. Though this family had been unable to talk about the death of their father and husband, in the garden outside the booth they gather and finally can talk and cry and laugh together about him.

Many people return again and again. Do they receive contact from the person they long to hear from? Are their words heard by the dead? Why do they return so many times? Why do so many of them cry? A forty-nine minute NHK documentary on YouTube (The Phone of the Wind: Whispers to Lost Families [1080p HD]) doesn’t answer these questions. But the faces and body language of people using the Phone of the Wind reveal much and no one in the film walks away looking disappointed.

In the age of cell phones it’s rare to even see a phone booth—but Sasaki’s idea incorporates a basic approach to encouraging contact with our dead beloveds by its focus on a particular place.

For me there are two such places. I linger in bed in the morning (some might say malinger), because I love the hypnopompic space between the world of sleep and dreams and the world of waking. It is here I feel most connected to Spirit and receive answers to questions and solutions to problems. It is also here that I commonly receive contact with my deceased daughter and mother and, occasionally, with others. The second place I am likely to receive contact is my altar which is a place I go every morning and evening to pray and to meditate and to listen inward.

If we long to make connection with someone dear who has died, we can create some version of our own “phone booth.” This spot could be a favorite tree or a sun-warmed rock large enough to lie down on. It could be a candle-lit desk with an open notebook and a pen, or a drafting table with paper and sumi ink or watercolor, someplace quiet we return to regularly, someplace where we don’t expect to be interrupted.

Placing an old phone in our spot could be just the action that gives us permission to speak freely to the dead and to listen for a response. We might be surprised by what happens.

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released October 6, 2017. Watch for pre-ordering in July. www.anniemattingley.com