At 4:00 pm today it will be 25 years since my visit to Heaven’s Front Porch. I’ll remember the day of our accident, and the experience always. We lost Bruce that day—a wonderful husband, father, son, brother and friend. That was, and remains the hardest part. And this past November we lost Bruce’s brother, Stew. Two wonderful men, gone way too soon. I took a run this morning and went out on the jetty at the Cape May Ferry terminal. I do this often and at the end I pause and pray for a few minutes, then do the rest of my run. The large sign marker at the end of the jetty has the number 11 painted on it. I smile at this because after the accident I would see the number “1111” many times, and it continues. Each time I saw it in the weeks and months after the accident I was usually in a shitty state of mind—blame, guilt, despair and all the other emotions of a person in “victim mode.” When I’d see “1111” on a clock, a taxi, a billboard or wherever; I’d feel a calm come over me that I attribute to the Bruce’s spirit. It was if he (and now Stew too) are saying to me “it’s all okay.” I cherish these moments. In a church in Montecito, CA when on retreat this past December, I’m sure I heard Stew’s voice whisper to me, “I’m okay. It’s okay.” I smiled, cried, and felt so peaceful.
So, in reflection, I’ve learned three things in these past 25 years since my visit to Heaven’s Front Porch. First, I know that there’s an energy in me—I call it my Soul, my Spirit—that continued on after the 8,000+ volts entered my body…and stopped it. The best way to describe it is I was living physically as a human being; then I wasn’t, the ladder hit the wires and I was alive as a spiritual being. It was a peace I’ve not experienced since. Me, this consciousness, paused briefly in the physical world to yell to Stew to get Bruce as he came down the ladder after hearing the sound of the metal ladder strike the wire. Stew would tell me later that I never said anything. I’d just smile and say, “Well, I did.” So, I’ve learned that our Spirit is the energy needed for our bodies to work.
Second, I’ve learned that life is tough, it’s actually a bitch, and really good people—really, really good people die way too early. I’ve witnessed the courage of the wives and kids and other family members and friends move on through the grief and create happiness and fulfillment in their lives—always remembering their loved ones. I know “there’s a fine line between here and there.” So I’ve learned that life will unfold the way it does, and we must seek the support we need to get through the tough times, as St. Paul offers us, “Press on.”
Lastly, I’ve learned—actually I know that the energy that makes my body go is also in each one of you. And when your body stops (and I trust that’s not for a long time for you) this energy will not. You may call it Soul or Spirit or energy or for you Star War’s fans (Joey & Matt) you may just call it the Force.
We’ve all lived a certain number of days so far—today is my 19,608th day, and all of them have been a gift. But you know what? The greatest gift we have is what I call our question marks (???) – this is the number of days we have left. So in your question marks, perhaps consider a few things to create more happiness and fulfillment in your life and the lives of others:
– lead with LOVE
– be bold with your vision
– be thankful
– forgive (then forget what you forgave)
– believe in something bigger than us
– trust it will all be okay
And smile and laugh more. Peace.
Author, Back From Heaven’s Front Porch