As a Medium, Death has been a constant companion of mine. My experience has not been limited to the Spirit World (talking to the Dead), but also includes standing present in the face of Death itself. I consider the moments that I walk hand & hand with Death to be among those I most treasure & my work as a Spiritual Midwife the most sacred. Death is a teacher that shows us what really matters, for it teaches the importance of supporting one another and the true value of LOVE.
My story today, is about my first experience as Death’s handmaiden…a treasured gift given to me by a special woman named Evanne. She was was a teacher at my children’s elementary school, but I find that the word teacher does not fully illuminate all that she brought to our community. In fact most people in the community remember her through music….Balkan Chorus to be exact. Through Evanne’s guidance, junior high girls from our tiny-hilltown (average student pop. k-8=42 kids) performed Balkan Music throughout the region & beyond…they produced CD’s, took the stage at Carnegie Hall on the Prairie Home Companion & were featured in the movie ‘In the Bedroom’ starring Sissy Spacek. Along with this magnificent gift of culture and worldliness, Evanne also taught a summer Humanities camp @ the school each year. Which brings us to how she came into my life.
The summer Evanne found out she had cancer, she made the decision that she was unable to offer the Summer Humanities Camp. As it turned out, I was the first parent she contacted to explain her decision. To make a long story short…that phone call turned into a friendship & me taking her on as a Reiki client. My work with Evanne was one of the greatest treasures I have ever been given. Before Evanne, I was scared of Cancer; I had lost a dear friend to Cancer (way too young) & watched as my grandfather loose his life to it as well. With Evanne, I was able to see the gift that a slow Death offers as well as the pain & fear.
Meeting weekly for Reiki, I was able to witness the introspection that the Long-Death offers. It gives us time to look at our life, to reflect and to love…I saw that there was so much more to dying then the end. There were moments of bliss, pools of emotion and truly amazing insight. I saw how community members stepped forward to support Evanne in whatever way that they could; from opening their homes for her care, to fundraisers and children sending gifts of books, cards and silliness.
As the holidays approached and Evanne’s condition worsened, her Balkan Chorus girls arranged a benefit concert in her name. The day before the concert her health took a deep, downward spiral. I was not scheduled to visit her on the day of her death, but after news of the rapid change in her health I headed over. Walking into the home I was greeted by one of my neighbors (the community took turns watching over her), & could feel the heaviness of death. My neighbor informed me that Evanne was a bit off & kept talking about how she needed chairs to be brought into the living room; around her bed. She insisted that she was going to have a lot of company that day. At first we thought she was confused and that she was preparing for all the visitors who would be coming after the concert; which was the following day. But as it turns out we were the ones who were confused…she knew exactly what she was talking about.
15 minutes after I walked into the home; Evanne began to die. Her breathing took on a deep rattle & then she stopped breathing. She did not have a DNR (do not resuscitate), so I immediately began doing CPR on her as my neighbor spoke to the emergency dispatcher. Within moments of starting CPR, I felt Evanne’s Spirit separate from her body & I knew she was Dead. That being said, I had to continue doing CPR until a medical professional arrived, which means I spent 15 minutes breathing life into a body that would not receive it. This sounds horrid, but in fact it was a truly profound experience; as I could feel Evanne standing next to me as I attended her body.
The first medical professional to arrive was a local nurse, who immediately took over the situation. Time slowed down & took on a stretched feel as I stood with my 2 neighbors & the Spirit of Evanne, around her body. Then the strangest thing happened….As the Ambulance drove up, neighbors and friends also started arriving. Soon the house was filled with people who loved Evanne, all this happened before anyone but the EMT’s had been called. Somehow/someway; like a radio signal from Spirit, she called her loved ones to her. As it turns out, she was right…she did need those chairs that day & her room was full. As I left the house, I heard Evanne speak to me…”I’m so sorry you had to do that Sali”. (referring to the CPR). I feel Evanne chose me as a companion for her death, as our friendship was developed around her dying. She was constantly thanking me, but I truly felt like walking through Death with her was a gift to me as well. In that moment; so many years ago, the fear of death was taken from me & replaced with a deep respect & gratitude. I saw how Death removed suffering, and allowed a person to step fully into their Soul. Standing present with her Spirit, I felt honored by the teachings Death had given me.
The concert went on as planned the following day; albeit with a different flair. Girls & young ladies filled the stage, singing with the love they held for the amazing woman who gave them so much love & inspiration. Evanne’s touch can still be felt in the little town of Newark; it’s heard in the voices of the Balkan Chorus (now led by former students of Evanne) & seen in the yearly cultural events she started. Most of all Evanne’s touch can be felt in the hearts of the people who were fortunate enough to know her.
Today, telling this tale…I cry. I cry for my friend, I cry for the beautiful gift she shared with me & I cry for the beauty of Death in it’s many faces. I hope you enjoyed the read Folks. May your hearts be filled with Love!