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The Message is in the Smoke

 

 
Feeling Disconnected
On 12/26/13, I spent some time with my daughter Jeannine. I hadn't spent quality time with her since August of this year. Since her ninth angelversary date, I make it a point to carve out time to spend with her in ritual and ceremony not only on her birthday or angelversary date but anytime I feel the urge. I always developed a sense of peace and increased clarity after our visits. Since August my schedule was full, between three college classes , helping to plan a candle lighting ceremony with our local Compassionate Friends steering committee,  and facilitating monthly bereavement support group meetings for families who experienced the death of a child. My interactions with my students and families were always fulfilling but as Christmas came and went, I felt increasingly empty and disconnected from myself and out of balance. The imbalance I experienced was due to the fact that I didn't carve out any time to nourish my soul; and to spend time with someone whom I love passionately and unconditionally. In the process of taking care of others, I neglected to take care of my needs.  I took some definitive steps to address the imbalance.

Smoke and Light

On my desk, I placed a  green sage and citrus candle that we had burned at our Compassionate Friends candle lighting ceremony to the left of me, an incense holder in the center, and an orange candle that came with a wolf medallion, to the right. I lit both candles and incense ,played some quiet meditative music and held Jeannine in my thoughts. I also looked to the smoke of the incense and the light of the candles for further inspiration.

The Teachings

Shortly after our ceremony commenced , I experienced thoughts that were coming through me at a faster than normal pace. I got the urge to write these thoughts down so that I wouldn't forget them. Before I proceeded however, I asked for Jeannine's permission to do so. I did not want my writing to detract from the time that we were spending together, sacred time. However, I got the clear sense that she wanted me to write, so I did. Here is what came through me and where appropriate, the part of the ceremony that inspired these thoughts :

  • I lit at least two different type of incense sticks and what I noticed with both is that the smoke was divided into two distinct parallel paths that would occasionally intersect. Here is what occurred to me in that moment: Respect the uniqueness of our paths, allow for autonomy, yet know that our paths, though parallel will intersect when spirit deems it to be time. In autonomy then, there is oneness, universality.
  • The flames of the candles also were different. The flame on the citrus and sage candle was dancing with a frenetic energy. The candle was on my left side and the left side represents the feminine. Jeannine, in this lifetime danced with frenetic energy. Further validation of her presence. The flame on the candle located to the right of me burned slow and steady.  Here is the thought that followed: Some flames dance, others illuminate in stillness. Each flame unique, but together provides an energy , a life force that helps us negotiate the darkness that challenges sometimes bring, a darkness that we sometimes allow to consume us. Of course we are human and can't avoid it. Let us embrace it (the darkness) and find clarity in the flame; the flame of darkness. The flame of darkness now becomes our friend.
  • Others' journeys will find us as long as we attend to our path and walk it with honor and integrity
  • When we are empowered ,our paths cross by choice, not by force. We share with each other and witness for each other, and our journeys become more enriched. We share our enriched teachings with others who become witness to the transformation and they in turn share with others. Sharing for sharing's sake, releasing ego and agenda, gives us an earth in balance.
Alright For Now

After the meditative music was complete, I dialed up the play list that Jeannine and I put together for her ninth angelversary and hit the shuffle button. I also asked her to give me a signal as to when our time should come to an end. If it were up to me, I would not have wanted it to end. The feelings of peace and bliss I experienced  were powerful. 
Our time together ended with this song by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers called Alright for Now. This line in the song told me it was time to go...... for now:
 
Sleep tight baby
Unfurl your brow 
And know I love you
We're alright for now

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About the Author

I became a parent who experienced the death of a child after my daughter Jeannine died of cancer on 3/1/03 at the age of 18. I am a retired addiction professional and am also an adjunct professor in the psychology and psychology-child life departments at Utica College. In 2007, I established Bootsy and Angel Books, LLC(www.bootsyandangel.com). The mission of Bootsy and Angel Books is to provide information, support, and services to individuals and families who have experienced the death of a child or other catastrophic losses. I have presented workshops at national conferences of The Compassionate Friends since 2008 and at gatherings of the Bereaved Parents of the USAin 2009 , 2011 and 2012. I have been a keynote speaker for national gathering of the Bereaved Parents of the USA in both 2011 and 2015. I am also the chapter leader for The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley. I have contributed articles to Living with Loss Magazine ,We Need Not Walk Alone, Hello Grief and Recovering the Self Journal. I have co-authored two books with Linda Findlay of Mourning Discoveries on navigating through grief during the holidays and pet loss. I am a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation and have also appeared on Healing the Grieving Heart and the Open to Hope Television show.. I am also a featured speaker, workshop presenter and coach for Aspire Place(www.aspireplace.com) You can also find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/david.j.roberts1

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