More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The reason I love The Ghost Whisperer

The reason I love the CBS show The Ghost Whisperer so much is that I finally found a show that demonstrates someone who has experiences similar to mine, and with the show being so popular, I no longer felt like such an odd-ball when I speak about it. Spirit communication has been a normal part of my life for many years.

Just last month, I had a visitor in my office who came along with a book that was delivered by UPS. I had edited the book for a client and it was about his father who had deceased and about his brother who committed suicide at age 16. It was the brother's spirit who accompanied the book. I sensed his presence the moment I touched the box and he asked if he could stay and observe for a while. (Spirits do that sometimes) I told him it was okay to stay and observe as long as he didn't pull any tricks with me. But, being the playful soul that he is, he couldn't resist! I was sitting in my office when all of a sudden POP! It sounded like a cap gun went off in the corner of the room. (I heard it with my own ears, not just in my head) Remember those red rolls/strips of caps that kids put in a metal gun? We used to pop them with a hammer. I knew it was this spirit playing games (normal for him per the book) and told him he had to leave because I wasn't putting up with being startled while I'm working. He left, but I thought is was funny afterward.

I've awakened in the night to see souls standing over my bed just looking at me. I'm like "What? Can't a girl sleep?" I've had spirits move stuff around in my house. They have broken stuff, thrown boots down from the top of my closet, hidden objects only to be found later exactly where I left them, etc.

Last week's episode of The Ghost Whisperer was about a walk-in or soul exchange. While the show has a bit of "Hollywood" or sensationalism to make it entertaining, its content is based on very true spiritual experiences. In the episode that aired November 21, Jim has died, but refuses to leave Melinda and go into the Light. Instead, he "walks in" to the body of someone who has just died. Melinda knows what has happened and spends the entire show trying to convince others and keep Jim from leaving her as he takes on the life of the man whose body he now occupies. 

Yes, it all sounds far fetched, but I know from first-hand experience that walk-ins and soul exchanges do happen frequently. I will be sharing my story and that of another walk-in when I air my podcast on December 5 as I will interview the co-authors of The Legacy of the Chosen One. Read more at


I feel like Melinda Gordon sometimes. I got a message from a friend who passed last December. He wanted me to write his mom and let her know that he is with someone or possibly a pet named Mason. I have no idea whether or not they will accept my message and I certainly don't want to upset them, but he was bothering the heck out of me about getting in touch with them. I sat on this information since last summer. So, today I wrote a letter and plan to mail it tomorrow. I hope they don't think I'm insane or harassing them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back to the Hospital

Nanny had to be taken back to the hospital on Thursday because her oxygen level was low and the doctor could not prescribe oxygen for in-home use without seeing the patient, so Mom had to call an ambulance to transport Nanny back to the hospital. The first x-ray revealed pneumonia in her left lung so she is on antibiotic for that, but she also has an infection in her blood. I don't know what that means. The MRI of her stomach and abdomen did not show where the infection in her blood is coming from. They will do another test in the morning. Thankfully, my uncle is taking two 24-hour shifts at the hospital to stay with Nanny this week to let my mom rest and get some of her pies made for Thanksgiving. Mom plans to have everyone over regardless of the situation. We tried to talk her into canceling it this year, but she wouldn't hear of it. She has extra help lined up for Tuesday and Wednesday.


The surgeon took a look at Nanny's second x-ray today and said the surgery to repair Nanny's hip did not "take" as he had hoped. It will not heal in a manner that will allow it to support her weight and function correctly. The option is a total hip replacement surgery but he didn't think she was strong enough for it since she had just come through surgery, has an infection, a blood clotting disorder, a touch of emphysema, and pneumonia. Even if they could do the surgery, there would be no guarantee that it would hold and heal properly due to her advanced stage of osteoporosis. The sad truth is that she will never be able to walk again. That does not mean she can't live a quality life, she just won't be able to go on her weekly trips to the grocery store, Sam's Club, and the Wal-Mart because she can't get in and out of the car. It is sad to see her unable to care for herself and others as she has always done.

On a good note, she is supposed to go home tomorrow (Sunday) if everything checks out okay with her bladder. The healthcare company has delivered a hoist to my parent's home so they can get her in and out of bed without hurting their backs. We have to care for the caregiver. We certainly can't have Mom being out of commission. At least Nanny will be able to get up and sit in a wheelchair. Her arm is healing nicely.


Nanny did not get to go home from the hospital today but hopefully she will tomorrow. She says I visited her in spirit this morning. That's possible. I had a visitation from her son, my uncle Edmond early this morning. He is waiting for her on the Other Side.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Going Home

Nanny is at home now. Mom and I swap nights keeping the baby monitor in our room to listen for Nanny. That way we get a good night's rest every other day. I know Mom needs my help, but after spending almost a week away, I've got to get back home this weekend while I have a ride. I hate to leave Mom with this situation to deal with, but I need to tend to my writing business. I'll be back for Thanksgiving less than two weeks away.

I've reconnected with my aunt Kathryn (Kat as we call her) while I've been here. She is ready for her transtition to the Afterlife. I didn't know she was so spiritually open until we started talking about the CBS show the Ghost Whisperer. We both love that show, but somehow missed the Friday night episode while caring for Nanny. Kat and I found the episode online and watched it. Afterward, I told her that when she got to the Other Side, she'd better not throw apples, forks, or dishes at me, but that I do want her to let me know how she is doing. We will come up with a sign or symbol to give that message.


I'm back at home in Nashville where I've been catching up on my work. I had over 1,000 emails to answer and client work to to respond to.

I've kept in touch with my aunt Kat by email nearly everyday since leaving GA. It tires her to talk so I don't call her on the phone. We've decided that a cameo or silhouette will be our sign when she reaches the afterlife. I fully expect to see some indication that she is trying to communicate with me. Who knows how long she will be with us? Unlike when my grandfather was ill, this time I will not pull away in fear. I will face this boldly and be of whatever service I can to the one who is passing. The doctor says Kat has six to eight months left to live. Who knows? Cancer can't be put on our time schedule. She could have years or maybe only days. We will all pass at some time or another. Nanny may go before Kat. I could go before either of them.

We can't pretend that there isn't an elephant in our living room. I know it is a sensitive issue, but I'm not afraid to talk about it. Kat sure seems to appreciate someone to talk with openly. We even laugh about it at time. I forgot how much I loved her. We were close when I was a teenager. It is so nice to be in touch with her again.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Day After Surgery

Nanny was doing great yesterday and her doctor spoke of her going home in a couple of days. Today, her blood platelet count is low and they don't know why. They took her to have an ultrasound to check her spleen and other organs for internal bleeding. Her blood sugar has also been elevated since she arrived so they want to make sure her pancreas is okay. She is talking out of her head today even though she hasn’t had any narcotics for pain. They tell us it is normal for an elderly person to respond like that after surgery.

The physical therapist came by and helped Nanny get into a chair this morning. She was actually able to bear weight on her left leg long enough to stand up while transitioning. She is doing small foot and leg movements/exercises to preserve muscle tone while recovering.

Nanny is in very good spirits and her mind is alert. We will be taking her home in a couple of days where she will have therapists and an aide coming three times a week to assist. Nanny lives with my parents and we do plan to bring her home. We promised her years ago that we would never place her in a facility where we could not be with her around the clock. Mom has two sisters and one brother living. One sister has terminal cancer and is in hospice at home, so we are also caring for her. My dad has diabetes so he has to be looked after too. Nanny will be transported home via ambulance.

The Day Nanny Had Hip Surgery

Surgery went well. She'll be in recovery unit until about 9 p.m. then returned to a private room. The surgeon told us he had it fixed to heal properly. However, we were told that she will be using a wheelchair for months (possibly from now on).

I offered to stay at the hospital with Nanny so my mom could go home and rest. Mom says she's afraid I can't handle it if Nanny were to pass during my watch. I assured her that Nanny and I have both been to the Other Side and back and that we have an understanding rather than a fear of such things.

Nanny is resting in her room now, but she was freaking out when she first came back because she thought she was in a nursing home. When she heard MawMaw's (my mom) voice, she calmed down and her BP went into normal range. There was no way Mom would leave her there alone tonight so I came back to the house to rest up. That way I'll be fresh to let Mom come home and rest tomorrow when Nanny is more coherent. The nurses have been very attentive to her and I feel confident that they will make sure Mom and Nanny have all they need throughout the night. They had brought clear liquids and were helping her sip through a straw when I was leaving. So, all in all, things are going well. By the way, It's her right side that was injured.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Family Understands Process of Dying

As you know from yesterday's post, my grandmother, who lives with my parents, fell in the kitchen and broke her hip and arm on Friday, November 7. I headed for Atlanta that same day. At 92 and facing surgery, I wasn’t sure I would see Nanny alive again, but as it turned out, she did fine with the surgery to repair her hip. She was released the following Wednesday and I continued to stay to help my mom care for her mom. Nanny went back into the hospital by ambulance the following Wednesday because her oxygen level was low. An x-ray revealed pneumonia in her left lung. I think she is ready to depart for the spirit world so she will be there when her daughter, Kathryn, arrives. My aunt, “Kat” as we call her, is in hospice care for terminal cancer. However, both of these strong-bodied and determined women are doing well at the moment, for which I am very thankful. I hate for anyone to suffer. 

You might think all this trauma would make us sad, but the truth is my family does not view death as a tragic thing. Dying is as natural as being born because both are part of the never-ending life cycle.  

With my grandmother having five kids who produced twelve grandkids, twenty-seven great-grandkids, ten great-great-grandkids and two more on the way, it doesn’t take long to fill the house on any given holiday. Any time my folks get together, there is going to be a lot of love and laughter. In fact, we had a dorm party in the hospital room while awaiting Nanny to return from surgery. Starbuck's coffee was used as a replacement for the keg of beer typically used in a college dorm party.

I dearly love my aunt Kat. She and I have agreed upon a sign that she will give me to let me know what it’s like for her once she reaches the other side. I fully expect she will visit me. My other "deceased" (that word really doesn't mean "dead"; it just means they are no longer in a human body) family members have.

When sleeping in Nanny’s bed while she was at the hospital, I sensed a spirit presence in her bedroom. Since Nanny and I have both communicated several times with Pap (her husband) and Edmond (her son) after they passed, I expected the presence was probably one of them.

“Is that you, Edmond?”

BAM! The picture that was hanging over the bed where I was resting slid down the wall and stood upright behind the bed.

“I’ll take that as a yes. I suppose you want to know why I’m in Nanny’s bed?” I explained to him what had happened and his presence immediately left. I figured he went to look for her at Northside Hospital. I hope he knows about the new branch that has been built at Forsythe county since he departed. I suppose souls have pretty good GPS.

Over the next few posts, I’ll share some of the things that have transpired in the past few weeks or months as I deal with what seems to be a preparation for departure of my loved ones from their physical bodies.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ready to Go?

My grandmother turned 92 last July. Two weeks ago (November 7) she fell in the kitchen in the home she shares with my parents. She broke her hip and arm, overcame surgery, and was released from the hospital in less than a week. She was doing well until her in-home nurse discovered that Nanny's oxygen level was low. Tanks could not be delivered without doctors prescription and the doctor could not prescribe it without seeing the patient, so back to the hospital (by ambulance) she went. X-ray revealed pneumonia in her left lung. She had an MRI today of her stomach and abdomen to see where the infection in her blood is coming from.

My honest opinion is that her soul is ready to depart from her body and is looking for a way out. Why? Because she wants to be on the Other Side when my aunt Kat arrives. Kat is in hospice care for terminal lung cancer.

It is only natural for the body to try to heal itself. Does the soul override the will of the body? I can't answer that question. Therefore, I remain unattached to the outcome. If Nanny or Kat is done with her Earthly mission and wish to depart, it is their choice, not mine. Of course I would miss them. I am close to both of them, but I would not blame them or be angry if they chose to leave. My choice is to be as supportive and loving as possible while attending to their needs in the interim.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interview with Near-death Experiencer & Author

Hear an interview with the author as she is interviewed by Nic Daniel about her spiritually transforming experiences and her near-death experience.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Have you ever heard of a soul exchange or a walk-in or walk out experience?

I've not only heard of it, I've experienced it twice. My body was a host to the soul that incarnated here in 1959, but in 1999, a new soul walked in when the first soul walked out. It was a mutual agreement, a contract made before birth, but many changes transpired during the transition. In fact, it was life-changing in ways that seemed tragic at the time. The second event occurred in 2005 when I had colon surgery. I knew ahead of time what was going to happen, and I allowed the exchange even though I felt grief for the ones I was leaving behind. Not many changes were noticed in the second exchange; it was a very peaceful experience. In fact, I never even had pain after the surgery! People were amazed.

If you would like to know more about this, I encourage you to listen to the upcoming interview with Ray Brennen and Masameh Fritz as we discuss soul exchanges and walk-in experiences next Friday, December 5. Subscribe to RSS feed so you don't miss the show!

The Legacy of the Chosen One
by Ray Brennan (Author), Masomeh Fritz is available on

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ghosts and the Supernatural

Ghosts are believed to be the spirit or soul of a dead person on earth. Supernatural, on the other hand, refers to forces and phenomena which are beyond ordinary scientific understanding. Both are closely related to concepts in religion, spirituality and metaphysics. The term supernatural is often used as a substitute for paranormal, and some of typical supernatural experiences are sightings of angels, healings and communications with the dead.

To read more click here


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dancing with Angels

Throughout history, angels have been known as guiding spirits. They have been called "Messengers of God." Angels have been seen as encouraging souls whose purpose is to lead us through transformative events in our lives.

Often, these guiding spirits are embraced so that a sense of comfort can be felt in the midst of despair. A dying patient and family members who believe in the presence of angels report feeling blessed by God.

To read more click here


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Search for Meaning When A Loved One Dies

Meaning affects everything we do; and equally important it affects the body as attested to by the many examples of body-mind relationships, such as the placebo effect. Finding meaning in death is not always easy, and sometimes it is hard to find.

However, the search for meaning when a loved one dies can make the difference in how you cope with your loss and reinvest in life. The Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, put it this way, “Meaning makes a great many things endurable—perhaps everything.”

To read more click here


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Afterlife - Science or Fiction?

One of the disadvantages our human race has, is, that no one really knows what will happen to us after we die. This is the main factor why we live in this troublesome world where ignorance, wars and famine are widespread. Other civilizations on distant planets may have the knowledge of what the afterlife has to offer. Therefore, they do not require any machines to survive their tranquil life span and so they do not need to seek communications with other planets as we do. It is certain however, that our human body is built up of countless atoms, like any other matter. According to scientific textbooks, there is more space in an atom than there is matter. In each atom, there are several subatomic particles, such as protons, neutrons, electrons and many others. All these are ‘semi-physical’ particles.

To read more click here


Monday, November 10, 2008

Life After Death - We All Want to Know

Life after death. There would hardly be a human being who has ever lived that hasn't wondered about the possibility. Indeed there are many people who believe that they have lived past lives.

Those who have had what are commonly referred to as NDE's (Near Death Experiences) tell all sorts of stories about being attracted to "white light" and being "beckoned into the afterlife" by long dead relatives and friends.

To read more click here


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Does Science Support the Afterlife?

Is death a myth? Of those who believe in an afterlife, about half believe in reincarnation, while the remainder believe in a shift to another place such as heaven. Both are included in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which teaches that a given soul or spirit can achieve different states after death, and only one involves reincarnation. In a similar manner, Hinduism teaches of two possible paths to take after death: one to the gods and one to the earth.

Read more here


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Integration in Mind-Body-Spirit

Our consciousness is spiritualizing the material dimension through our expanded thought patterns.

What would like be like if we stopped judging people and started asking what piece of the puzzle they have? What is their vision? What can I learn from them?

Read the rest of the article here


Friday, November 7, 2008


I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
— Frank Herbert


Thursday, November 6, 2008

What are ghosts?

African Shaman Tommy Mueller says they are confused souls who did not resolve their emotions before death, or for some reason didn’t fully cross over. This may happen when death occurs suddenly as in the case of a traumatic experience such as murder, suicide or a vehicle crash. Many times these souls do not realize that they are dead and will attempt to interact with their living loved ones.

This reminded me of Patrick Swayze’s character in the movie Ghost when he tried, as a spirit, to get his girlfriend’s, (played by Demi Moore), attention. Personally, I have had my own ghost experience; like the time I put the scissors on the table, walked across the room to get something then walked back and the scissors were gone! I looked all over the house, and finally gave up on finding them. When I walked back to the table a little while later, I found them exactly where I left them. I thought I was crazy or going blind. Sooner or later these departed spirits will move on—probably to another incarnation where they progress at a higher vibration or level of awareness. It is not uncommon for ghosts to hang out in the auric field of a person who vibrates at a high level or has a lot of light emanating from them. They may influence a person’s life in a negative way. Focused energy work or verbal command will remove the spirits and send them on their way. Remember the stories of how Jesus verbally cast demons out of people? These may have been confused souls who were looking for the light.

We’ve talked about spirits and ghosts, but I also want to mention spirit guides? We each have two or three guides to assist us on our journey. You may hear an internal voice, sometimes called intuition, giving you a mental nudge, instruction or advice. There are many levels of guides. Some are angels; some are the evolved souls of deceased loved ones. True spirit guides are of a much higher vibration than the confused souls mentioned before. They can be in more than one place at the same time. Their purpose is to teach, guide and even rescue humans when necessary. Some stay with you all your life. Others enter to assist on certain tasks or events then leave when finished.

Hopefully the material presented here will give you insight about interaction with your guides and departed loved ones, and help you appreciate those voices you’ve been hearing. See, you’re NOT crazy after all!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why do humans believe in a dark power such as the devil?

When we make a mistake we might jokingly say, “The devil made me do it!”

That may be a true statement considering that the word “devil” is referred to by the ancients as ego, free will or choice. The ancients did not personify or assign deity status to the terms “god” and “devil." They were symbols which represented choice or free will.

Without the ability to choose, we have no power at all!

Evil or devil is simply a shadow side of ourselves that we have been taught to hide because we consider certain behaviors or character traits unacceptable. The Bible teaches that there is no condemnation in Christ and that we should not judge, yet we spend a lot of time and energy trying to repress or get rid of something that is a vital part of us. Humans assign value to things, situations and one another by passing judgment or rendering an opinion. For example, our society believes it is wrong to be angry and that crying is a sign of weakness; yet psychologists have shown that repressing our emotions is dangerous and causes depression and other mental illness.

We can find ways to express our frustration and allow our shadow side to have a voice without harming ourselves or others. I suppose it is harmless to conclude that the vastness of “God” or Divine Infinite Intelligence contains both light and dark. You certainly can’t have shadows without light. Everything in the Universe is a manifestation of God in some way. Even the most negative energy is able to teach us a lesson. People like Adolph Hitler had purpose in life; they just operated totally out of their ego or dark side rather than from their spirit or light side.

Sylvia Browne in her book, Past Lives, Future Healing, says there are dark entities or spirits who are estranged from God’s unconditional love and are remorseless, manipulative, often charming and seductive. They are completely without conscious and attempt to draw people away from God by destroying their faith, self-respect, and peace of mind. They have no angel or spirit guide to direct them on their life’s journey, and have no desire to progress spiritually. They do not go to a place of joy when they die; instead, they go to a hollow, bottomless void called the Left Door and return to earth in utero. They continue this cycle for centuries until a rescuer from the Other Side embraces them and brings them into God’s light. Note that they do not have a “between” life time and therefore are not the ghosts or apparitions many people see.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Most Souls Attend Their Own Funerals

According to South African Shaman, Tommy Mueller, most souls attend their own funerals, and that spirit guides converse with one another at these events. He says to never go to the funeral of someone you don’t like and pretend to be paying homage to them. The deceased spirit is very likely to be hanging out with the family during the “laying in state” and memorial services. Spirits can read the inner thoughts of every person regardless of the behavior they put on for the family. The deceased spirit is agitated and sometimes angered by the two-faced behavior of those they thought were their friends. Yes, spirits still have emotions!

Spirits waiting on the other side for the soul who just passed are also in attendance at funerals and ceremonies, and they rejoice that the soul has been freed from the limitations of the human body. They see life as simply a lesson learned and a contribution to humanity and the planet, but they do not mourn; only humans mourn. Contrary to popular opinion and the vision of the movie industry, spirits do not generally hang out in graveyards. They want to be around people, and funerals are an ideal gathering place for them. They are able to interact with human beings and may choose to visit their loved ones. This does not mean that they are anchored to the earth plane. Without a dense body they are free to be in more than one place at a time.

A dishonest visitor stole the ring off a corpse on the “showroom floor” (the funeral home). The daughter of the deceased was very upset and told a friend about it. The friend recommended a visit to Tommy Mueller. During the reading a spirit guide who had witnessed the crime gave an exact description of the thief—someone who had been in attendance the day the ring was stolen.

Mueller says that the personality of a soul continues in the afterlife. Otherwise you wouldn’t be you! Jesus Christ appeared to his friends after his death and resurrection in a new type of spiritual body. Many people recognized him not only by his physical appearance but by his character and personality. They didn’t recognize him until he broke the bread in the same manner as he did before his death. (Luke 24:28-31). Both before and after his death Jesus showed frustration that his disciples didn’t believe the truths he had revealed to them. This seems to indicate that whatever beliefs a person holds in consciousness at the time of death will continue to exist until they are resolved and the soul moves on to another plane or mission.

The “Tibetan Book of the Dead” describes an intermediate state called “bardo” which an individual enters after death. The Sanskrit word “bardo” refers to the 49-day period between death and rebirth during which a soul is adjusting or acclimating. This is the time that one is most likely to encounter deceased loved ones. That causes me to wonder whether there are stages to entering the Afterlife similar to the way a soul comes in gradually as a fetus developing in a mother’s womb. Perhaps “bardo” is the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” mentioned in Psalms 23 of the Bible.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spiritual Presence of Miscarried Baby

Almost everyone I interviewed for this book told me that they sensed the presence of their loved ones near them during the funeral, graveside ceremony and in the days following.

A friend of mine had a similar experience. Anita Cooper said that when she and her husband, Eldon, were going to the hospital for his cancer surgery, she saw someone approaching the side of their car. She thought it was a neighbor trying to catch them before they pulled out of the garage. She turned and saw the spirit of a man in her back seat. “We’ve got company,” she said to her husband.

She began a conversation with the spirit, and he told her his name was John and that he was Eldon's brother. He said he wanted to be with him during his surgery if the “others” would let him stay. She thought it was strange that the man claimed to be Eldon’s brother because Eldon was an only child and he didn't know who John was.

Much later, Anita asked Eldon's mother if she had another child. She said that she had lost a male child in a miscarriage and that his name was John. She had never conceived again, and Eldon never had children of his own. Therefore, John did not find a body in which to be near Eldon. Instead he was with him in spirit. Eldon then remembered the invisible playmate he had as a young boy and knew that it must have been John.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead

The death of a close friend or relative has a way of opening our eyes and ears to the unseen realm. It also provides an opportunity for us to think about what we are doing with our lives and where we are on our spiritual path. We tend to contemplate who we are, why we are here, and whether we are living life to its greatest potential. This contemplative evaluation can move us to create change for ourselves. For Jennifer Longmire the death of a close friend propelled her spiritual seeking, which in turn initiated a career change that led her to become a spiritual healer:

In 1996 my former husband, Bill, and I were living in Tucson, Arizona. We were good friends with John Payne and his wife, Sharon. Bill and John were in grad school together working on their Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. John and Sharon went through an ugly divorce and John was just returning to normal after grieving deeply. We probably saw John at least once a week and talked to him frequently. He was quite the character—big energy, deep voice—and he came from a blue-collar mid-western background. He loved to shock people and say what everyone else was afraid to verbalize. He didn't care what anyone thought of him and seemed rather gruff on the exterior but was really a big teddy bear. He was a gifted poet, and his writing spoke of the inner emotional world. That seemed odd coming out of this big, macho guy.

We had talked to John just before Halloween when he left to go rock climbing in the Dragoon Mountains at Cochise Stronghold. We got a phone call that he had fallen to his death, and when we learned that his body was being sent back to Illinois, we decided to have a memorial for him in Tucson. Our service was attended by John's Arizona friends and people from the creative writing program at the University of Arizona. In Mexico there is a Mexican tradition to honor deceased ancestors called Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The Mexican Catholics have kept a lot of the pagan traditions; which I love. It was my visit to Mexico that sparked my interest in Paganism. I especially like the way they depict the Virgin de Guadalupe alone, not just as Jesus’ mother, and standing on the crescent moon! Anyway, on the Day of the Dead, the Mexicans build an altar and place candles and photos of their deceased loved ones on it. Plates of food and wine are left out for the spirits of the dead to come and feast. The Pagans believe that the veil between the physical and spiritual planes are thinnest around Hallowmas or Halloween time. Dia de los Muertos is on Nov. 2nd. During that time, it is believed that we can communicate best with the Other Side.

In keeping with the Mexican tradition we made a huge Dia de los Muertos altar for John. We created an outdoor show of his poetry, which we mounted with photos and hung from trees. At the memorial, we allowed people to walk around and read the poems John had written. Then we came together to tell stories about him and share our feelings. We all spoke of how John lived and loved with wild abandon. Everything he did was with extreme passion and he died the same way. Legend has it that the Native American, Cochise’s body was never found and was believed to still be somewhere in the Dragoons. We imagined John and Cochise hanging out together. We thought we felt his presence in the room, and knew he was getting a kick out of the whole thing. To us it was so much better than a funeral or formal religious memorial.

I had no idea how much John’s sudden death would effect me on a spiritual level. I had just begun to explore my spiritual path. The following spring I quit my full time job as Program Coordinator for a human services organization. I had the opportunity to take some time off and really think about my life. John was a powerful teacher. Looking back, it was his death that ignited something inside me that sent me on a deeper search. It initiated a whole string of events that led me to my current path as a healer and spiritual seeker. From 1997-2000, I went through an intense period of spiritual growth that I think of as a shamanic death and rebirth. It is nice to remember John and the beginnings of my spiritual journey.