I have two dear friends who both lost their young husbands to cancer, when they were too young to be widows, when their children still needed fathers. Their husbands' deaths occurred within a few years of each other.
When we gathered together, each friend would share the intimacies of her heart, and one thing they had both shared, has stayed with me for the past 20 years.
Each friend had felt her husband near for the entire year following his death. One of the friends even felt her husband's presence leave on the one year anniversary of his death.
Intimate and sacred details of not only one, but two people, who had the same, unique experience. I was always curious if other people had the same experience, but it's neither an easy nor a proper question to ask. At the time of my own father's death, I was in the company of a woman I'd known since her daughter and I were in second grade together. She'd come to share her condolences with Mom and me and the conversation was intimate and tender. It was comfortable enough to ask her if she'd had the same experience with her husband's passing.
Yes, but she described it in a very different way. In the year following her husband's death, she felt a physical sensation in the pit of her stomach. It didn't hurt, it didn't bother her, it was just a feeling, and at her husband's one year death anniversary, she felt it no more.
As August 12 nears, I've been wondering if the feelings of my father's spiritual presence will also subside, lessen, even disappear.
Four mornings ago, I awoke with clear thoughts of my two friends' experiences, and an even clearer thought of my father affirming that he would be moving on.
I couldn't think or talk about the experience without tears. I looked back with regret when I had thought of my father constantly and I had asked him to leave my thoughts because it was just too hard. How could I have done that?
However, the next day, I awoke and felt peace. Not because I had answers to these mysterious thoughts, in fact there were more troubling questions than ever. Was this my imagination? Why would a person move on after a year? Why didn't everyone experience this? Or did they? And why, oh why, would time be measured by one year?
I've spent part of this day reading and watching different witnesses who've had near death experiences. They are many! I especially like the experiences of Dr. Eben Alexander told in his writings found in internet articles and in his book Map of Heaven. I had previously read Dr. Mary Neal's near death experience, To Heaven and Back, induced from a kayak accident in South America. Today I watched a youtube news clip of her explanation. Each person's story, which seems more valid because each one is a board certified doctor, rang true and even logical. So logical that an alternative couldn't exist. Both Dr. Neal and Dr. Alexander saw in their after life visit that we are loved and cherished more than we can imagine by people who have passed on before us--which confirms the feeling of Dad's presence, but not the feeling of his impending departure.
Unless, I am looking at this all wrong, without gratitude, for a bonus year with Dad. It may be that a loving Father in Heaven lessens the loss of a loved one--by giving an extra year of spiritual presence, but the time does come when the deceased must move on. If there is an after life, there must be a purpose, a way that life continues on with importance, and that purpose compels, even insists that a loved one moves on. And like a promotion or progression, I should be cheering him on. Just not yet.