As Brandon lay dying and in the minutes after his death, I begged him to haunt me. I’ve been begging God to let me see Brandon, as I’d seen my maternal grandmother after her death after similar prayers. I have not yet “seen” Brandon, although he has sent any number of signs, such as channeling George Harrison songs, sending a special firefly to me or dispatching a single dragonfly to appear at all sorts of family or family member activities. He’s even been seen by one of my friends during a shared labyrinth walk on my last birthday. Still, signs are not the same as seeing.
October 11, the day before the labyrinth workshop I was to attend, was a beautiful autumn day, so my husband Joe and I cycled to Smale Riverfront Park, stopping at “my” labyrinth. I’m not sure why, but I hesitated walking my labyrinth that day. Nonetheless, I find it’s impossible to find a labyrinth in front of me and ignore it. See it; walk it. And so I did.
As I walked that Friday before the labyrinth workshop, I again begged (prayed) to be allowed to see Brandon. I had not made it to the center when a voice in my head, which I’ve always thought of as God, posed the question, “Could it be that you’re afraid to see him? Afraid that once you see him, you’ll feel comforted and know a peace that will cause you to stop grieving him?"
Talk about a loaded question and one that was food for deep thought. This is the reason. About six months after my maternal grandmother’s death, I’d seen her in a dream, but this dream was unlike any usual dream. Grandma looked like grandma but she looked as her very best self. I touched her. I could feel her. We talked, although we didn’t speak words with our mouths. The brief time we spent wherever we were that night was as real as any of the times we spent together when she was on this earth. I literally felt myself being pulled back into my body and I fought it, which caused me to wake.
After that experience, I didn’t grieve for her as I had. I’d been given this beautiful opportunity to say good-by and tell her how much I loved her. I now knew she was in a very good place. I indeed felt comforted and knew a peace that changed the grief. I still missed (and continue to miss) her, but it was completely different.
Could it be that the fear of grieving Brandon less is the reason my prayer remains unanswered?
The next morning I was up early, as the workshop was more than an hour’s drive away. I gave little thought to my previous day’s labyrinth walk, as I was preoccupied with finding a Starbuck’s along the way to Harmony Farm. Plus, I was excited to hear what Dr. Artress had to say. Participants spent time on the exercise described in Part 1 before the first of two labyrinth walks that day. The first walk reminded me of maneuvering around and between people on a busy city sidewalk, as I’d never walked with so many others before. Many new metaphors presented themselves to me during that morning’s walk!
Before the second walk Dr. Artress discussed the meanings (scroll down) some have given to the six “petals” of the rosette in the center of a Medieval labyrinth, such as the most famous one in Chartres (France) Cathedral. Because the labyrinth at Harmony Farm is modeled on the Medieval labyrinth, the suggested stopping before the center and moving first to the petal one felt more drawn to.
I was initially drawn to the fourth petal, which is the “human” petal, but another walker was already occupying it. Since she was seated in the lotus position with her eyes closed, it appeared she was going to be there awhile. The fifth petal was also filled, and I wasn’t feeling at all drawn to the first, second or third petals.
This left the sixth petal, the petal of the “Unknown” or “Mystery” – the God petal. Although I felt drawn to it and thought I’d enter this petal before leaving the center, I was not certain if I was ready or worthy to enter this petal yet. However, circumstances led me to the sixth petal sooner than later, but I entered and faced outward rather than toward the center. It was in the sixth petal that the question of the previous day’s walk returned and I faced my fear that seeing Brandon would result in a feeling of such peace that I would stop grieving him.
In my head I heard, “Did I stop thinking or grieving or remembering my Son?” I thought, “But your Son is God – You!” Then the voice asked, “Well, isn’t your son part of you? Do you really think seeing him would change how you feel about him?” With those questions I felt ready for petal one, so I turned to face the center with a request for help to find more balance. Eventually, I stepped out of petal one and into petal four where I expressed gratitude for my five children, their life partners and the grandchildren we’ve been blessed with.
As I left the center and began the walk back out of the labyrinth, I thought, “Okay, I guess I’m now ready (to see Brandon).” And I heard, “Maybe. Trust me to know the time.”
I was back to, “Not my will, but yours…”