Life, Death and Spirituality

Month: September, 2013


Lying in bed, unable to fall asleep. Drifting off only to see Francis’ face as he came through the door with news of Rowie’s accident; grey, aged and drawn, older than his years; fear etched into his eyes – trying to stay buoyant. “They can’t get to him yet – he may be OK, they can’t say”.

I had been sitting on a hard dining room chair for 40 minutes at this stage; ever since the volunteer fire brigade alarm had sounded. I was packing for our wee break away. Chris, Rowie, Francis, Maree and I were heading away the next day for a four day trip to Alexandra. The alarm went off and I felt an immediate, cold vice-like grip grab at my heart. I said out loud “oh God, Rowie”. I normally say “there’s some heartache for someone”. Don’t ask me how or why but I knew something very bad had happened at that instant.

Another night time terror is seeing him go over the edge of the cliff. I have never visited the place but the police provided us with photos in their accident report and Google Earth allows a leisurely trip along the cliff either from the top or from the bottom. I feel terrible sadness and pain for Jess and Reuben – his friends who were with him when it happened. No young life should ever have to experience what they did.

Chris had set off to work at 5.00pm – his last night shift and then 4 days off. Nikki was driving so he didn’t even have the comfort of his own transport. Poor, poor man – it breaks my heart to think of his fearful 45 minute journey home; not knowing whether Rowie was alive or dead; just knowing that something unthinkable had happened in our lives. I hear the words Chris says over and over again. They haunt me. “He’s never coming back here again is he?” The same song playing in Chris’ head as is playing in mine “I was born to love you, with every beat of my heart. Yes I was born to take care of you every single day of my life”. But we didn’t take care of him; we let him down.

I wish I could control the direction of my mind as I drift in and out of sleep.


Near death episodes (NDE’s) or Astral travel

As stated earlier, I have spent much of the last nine months reading copiously.  I have read many books written by parents who have lost children. The ‘Matthew’ series of books are fascinating – Matthew, Tell Me About Heaven is the first written by Matthew’s mum, Suzanne Ward.  She writes about Heaven as told to her by her son who died tragically at the age of 17.  She continues to write a blog that amazes every time.  Another wonderful story is entitled ‘Heaven is for Real’ by Todd Burpo. This tells the true story of Colton Burpo, the four year old son of a small-town pastor in the US.  After surviving emergency surgery, he began talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating.  He also tells of what his parents were doing whilst he was in surgery.  He describes being in Heaven, seeing God and Jesus and meeting long-dead family members. A New Zealand story, ‘Dry your Tears’ by Little Grace is written by the mother (Annette Hanham) of another 17 year old tragically taken in an accident and tells of her journey through the grieving process.  Each of these books referenced other literature which drove me on to read more and more.

Having satiated myself with other peoples’ child-related tragedies I moved on to books written by people who had returned to us after near death episodes.  What transpired here I found interesting.  Every day folk started telling of near death experiences suffered on the operating table in the late 1960s – the tunnel with a white light at the very end – stories we have all heard and listened to with a touch of cynicism.  Suddenly eminent surgeons who have also treated their patients’ stories with cynicism began experiencing similar things.  I read a wonderful book on holiday, ‘Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife’ by Dr Eben Alexander.  As mentioned before, my father was a veterinary surgeon with a typical scientist’s attitude towards life and death; you are born, you live, you die – the end.  This made ‘Proof of Heaven’ an even more fascinating read for me.  Another holiday read, ‘To Heaven and Back: A doctor’s Extraordinary Account of her death, Heaven, Angels and Life Again’ by Dr Mary C Neal, an orthopaedic surgeon was equally inspiring.  These stories aren’t written by religious fanatics; they are written by members of the medical profession who have found it hard understanding what they have experienced but none-the-less believe totally that they have seen Heaven first-hand.

These NDEs can equally be classed as ‘astral travelling’ – which I believe can also be attained through meditation – something I am trying very hard to do but have, as yet, been unable to do.  My brain shoots here, there and everywhere – not allowing me the peaceful state of mind needed for meditation and thus, astral travel.  This is something I will succeed in doing one day – something I need to be able to do.  I’m only 9 months into my journey – and Rowie is only 9 months into his journey – we both have a lot to learn.

Jodie is helping us both with this.  I will tell you how.

Mediums and other gifted souls….

Our undertaker, Raewyn, was truly wonderful.  I know it is her job to be kind and understanding but she went the extra mile.  She suggested we read a book by a UK medium whom she felt would provide some comfort for us.  It certainly did and fifteen days after Rowie died we contacted a local medium in a town not too far away from us.  She warned us that it was so very soon after his passing that she might not be able to contact him.  We did a phone reading.  She began by blowing my socks off.  She said that Rowie was with her and that he was ‘stoked with the tie’!  These opening words were mind blowing.  Francis, our eldest son had placed his rugby club tie in Rowie’s coffin ( his dearest wish being that the two of them would one day play together in the same team).  Only family and very close friends knew this. There was no way that someone living in a town 100kms away from us would know this.  Her next statement was even more astounding.  She said that she could see Rowie standing there with a grin on his face holding a book with one hand and pointing at it with the other.  She laughed and said ‘is it a Where’s Wally book?’.  This was truly amazing because for Christmas we had given him a ‘Where’s Willy’ book; the cover identical in looks to Where’s Wally with only a slight difference – he was looking for a little willy not Wally!  This was only known by our immediate family who were present on Christmas Day. Lynn, this incredible medium spent an hour talking to us about Rowie.  She told us so many other amazing things like Francis’ nickname for him, ‘Skin’.  She told me that she was making notes and that she would put the notes in the post to us so that we could think about the things that hadn’t immediately struck a chord.  True to her promise the notes arrived and we have been constantly amazed over the last nine months by her accuracy.  We should point out at this stage that she did not charge us for this reading; she did it because she had a deep empathy for our situation.

Lynn did another phone reading with us and came to see us at home for yet another one.  In every instance she proved her honesty and sincerity.  Rowan came through every time with humour, love and credibility.

The next eight months saw me travel extensively in my pursuit of spiritual reality and truth; to Christchurch twice and to San Francisco for the most amazing experience of my life so far.

As we discussed earlier, there are no coincidences.

A short while into our journey a face appeared on my Facebook page that was familiar; the name not so familiar as the face but I felt a need to follow this up.  The daughter, Jodie, of an old, warm, funny friend from my previous life in the UK, Linda, had started a blog as a medium and Channel of Heaven.  As I began to follow this blog, Jodie discovered that her mother had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Heartbreaking for her and very sad for me and many others, I followed this short, poignant story of Linda’s braveness in the face of a debilitating, aggressive cancer which ended her life very quickly.

It was no coincidence that Jodie and Linda appeared in my life again after 20 years or so.  I realised very quickly that Jodie was going to play a very big part in our lives.  So like her mother in many ways; vibrant, warm, beautiful, funny; I felt the need to pop across the Pacific to catch up with her for a chat!  Funnily enough, Rowie got there before me………..

There are no coincidences……

When my father died it was sudden; unexpected; even though he had suffered with high blood pressure and emphysema for many years.  He died in the afternoon on Saturday and we were unable to find my sister to tell her until the following Tuesday.  The first time we were altogether we experienced a strange phenomena.  We were sitting in the lounge talking when one of us noticed a woodpecker hammering away at the willow tree outside my parents’ bedroom.  A beautifully coloured woodpecker that hammered away at the tree for some 20 minutes or more.  We had lived at this house for many years and had never seen a woodpecker before.  We never saw one again either.  My father loved birds; particularly robins and woodpeckers.  Even though he was a confirmed atheist I was inclined to have an open mind when it came to religion and felt that if he was given the opportunity to send us a sign, this would be the sign he would send.

The day after Rowie died the sun shone; bright and hot.  We sat in the garden as a procession of kind, well-meaning people arrived with flowers, food and words of comfort. Boxes of flowers started arriving; the flowers arriving protected by slivers of shredded paper.  As we were sat there I noticed just three pieces of shredded paper that had escaped their confinement; one shaped like a perfect R; one shaped like a perfect C; one straight.  I laughed and pointed them out to the family.  “Rowan Cai – shame about the other one – it should be a P for Parker” I exclaimed.  Within minutes the heat of the sun had turned the third piece of paper into a perfect P – RCP – Rowan Cai Parker. Coincidence or a message from another place?

Grief can play tricks with you.  I know this.  These initials were witnessed by the whole family though.  At this stage I’m not sure any of us really believed it was a sign but it was certainly something to think about.

This was the first of many little, unexplained things that triggered the “coincidence” comment.  It was only after reading several books and seeing the same comment “there are no coincidences” that I began to look at these small happenings; trying in my own mind to measure probability of this series of ‘coincidences’ against caused happenings.  At this stage I began to understand that there were too many of these occurrences to be anything other than ’caused’ events.  One thing I am sure of is that Rowan is not the kind of guy to give in easily. He always was and still is a very persistent soul.  I have said many times over the last few months that it is my intention to prove that Rowan is very much alive still; not physically unfortunately; and that there definitely is an afterlife.   He is very much alive and part of our lives as he constantly reminds us in one way or another.

I would love to share my experiences of some wonderfully gifted people – people who can speak to those in spirit.  Another blog, another time.

Dream or reality?

This was a hugely distressing phenomenon.

My father died back in 1986 and we were very close.  He was a veterinary surgeon and as such, a confirmed atheist.  I spoke to him constantly after his death (without reply) and had the odd dream about him.  One night a had a ‘real’ experience of him – he was saying ‘time to let me move on now Sue – I’ll still be around but you’ve got to get on with your life’.  This was different to a dream – an almost tangible meeting with him.

I had another ‘real’ experience with Rowie some six weeks down the track.  I had been going through an angry phase of my grieving; blaming myself for not having said ‘no’ to his going to his girlfriends on Boxing Day; blaming his dad for having to work on Boxing Day making it a ‘non-event’ which freed him up to go away for the day; angry with God for taking our beautiful, warm, funny son when there are so many mongrels out there in the world (yep, a truly unchristian attitude to be sure)!  That night I had a ‘real’ visitation from Rowie again; totally different feeling to a dream.  This time we were in the local community hall and he was hiding behind a curtain; peering out at me with scared eyes. I realised that it was time to forget my anger.  I needed to start reading, researching – to find out what other people say about death, dying, the afterlife.  I wanted to know with an absolute certainty that I would see Rowie again one day and that he would be there waiting for me.

One of my work colleagues suggested I read Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD., On Death and Dying, 1969.  This started me on a journey that I am only 9 months into as I write this, but a journey that has already opened my heart and my mind up to so many amazing things. Another colleague said to me ‘it is what it is’ – a statement that baffled me at first but one that I now understand.  She suggested I read some written material from various modern-day mediums; James Van Praagh, Kelvin Cruickshank, Lisa Williams, Allison DuBois to name but a few.

These guys opened up my mind to all sorts of other possibilities; preset death dates, soul lessons, soul purpose, spiritual growth and evolved consciousness and reincarnation.

I then progressed to authors with experience of NDE’s (near death episodes).  This part of my journey was fascinating (more later).

I favourite book of mine, The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler should be read by every man and his wife and children.  If everyone could live to His Holiness’ simple guidelines to happiness; love, compassion and forgiveness, the world would heal itself overnight!

In my next blog I would love to share with you my views on a simple statement “there are no coincidences” because this statement has cropped up in every book I have read.  It is a statement that has proven itself ten-fold to us since Rowie died.

Early stages of grief

Ok.  What do you do?  The first week or two come and go in a daze – you dream of him; you wake up thinking that it was the worst nightmare in the world.  You spend ages in his bedroom soaking up the smells and memories of fun, snuggly, warm times – times that you can see in your head and wish you could capture with your arms and your lips and your eyes.  Yep – photographs.  Wow.  Photographs keep you ticking over.  Your eyes need to devour every photo that you can get your hands on. Its a little, I am sure, like a drug – you need more and more.  You print off copy after copy of photo and cover every wall space and table space with framed beauty. Thank God for Facebook – vacuous in so many ways but cathartic in the number of photos that his friends posted for us; for themselves. 

At this stage I feel I have two choices.  I can either follow him over a cliff – not a hard thing to do, or I can try to make some sort of sense of the whole hideous thing.

I have dreams about him.  I have things that set themselves apart from dreams – things that seem more real than dreams: things that play on my mind as being more ‘real’.  I think I am beginning to learn a difference between these things.  A ‘dream’ I had 10 days after Rowie left us falls into the second category.  He is in his coffin, being carried by his friends, but he sits up and cries to me ‘Mum, please, I’m not dead – help me – I’m not dead – please’.  Nightmare?  I think not – this seems too real to be a nightmare.

Bear with me – I need to think a little about the next bit of this story…

Some history…

Along with the arrival of 2012 came an unequivocal statement from our youngest son, just short of 16 years, that he wouldn’t live to see 2013.  We listened to his explanation of why with only slight interest – the Mayan calendar ended on 22 December 2012 so consequently we were probably all going to die!  As the year progressed and he grabbed at every opportunity with enormous enthusiasm – a 10 day voyage on The Spirit of New Zealand, a family holiday to Thailand, a week’s Scuba Diving Course giving him his first “dive ticket”,  the lead-role in his school’s production of “Man of Steel”, the lead of his Kapa Haka group, his speech asking the school to vote for him as 2013 Head Boy and subsequent designation of this role…… he still insisted that he wasn’t going to see 2013.  When asked how sure he was that he wouldn’t he replied “100% sure”.  On the evening of 22 December he stayed awake into the early hours, waiting for the end to come.  Around 2.30am he texted his older brother, Francis saying “hey buddy I’m still alive, how about you”?

Four days later, 26 December 2012, our youngest son was taken from us in a tragic accident that left us all bereft, heartbroken, in a state of total shock and struggling to survive ourselves.