The departure of the spirit from the material self is the essence of the death process.

The Habit of Being

My mom on the awesome barrel horse she made me circa 1963

My mom on the awesome barrel horse she made me circa 1963

There is a strong nostalgic connection between the spirit and the physical body that has developed a retinue of large and small habits, routines, accommodations and core rituals that may take time to gently disengage.

As these detangle and fall away, the body relaxes deeper and deeper into its purely physical elements, readying its particles to, themselves, de and re-materialize throughout the physical plane in the time ahead.

Meanwhile, the spirit, now free from the physics of the material world begins to play upon its brand new exposure to the infinite of the universe and whatever contains or creates that! Call it love.

This is that expansive >pop!< you may feel as a soul actually leaves that last time, after that last breath – when you sense the essence of the loved one expand in all directions and time and fill awareness and the concept of the infinite up in one warm, joyful whole expression of everything good.

Witnessing the Grace of Transformation of Spirit

I’ve witnessed this transformation during the moments of actual transference of spirit of a beloved dog and my own mother in their material presence as they made the switch. I’ve also been in the presence of a loved one as her spirit seemed to be considering her options, as a niece struggled through a grave illness connected to life support.

I’ve also been visited by a spirit making the rounds as she left the physical shell of my sister and popped into my dream for a vivid non-material farewell. My mom did that, too a couple of days before her spirit committed to the new existence. She appeared as a very young version of herself and waved. Now that I think of it, that was both a hello and goodbye wave.

Recently I had the opportunity to start pondering the subject of what I believe will be my next major creative exploration:

“What Happens to Us When We Die”

A Personal Exploration

The topic was jumpstarted as a concept in an immediate way when I received news that my elderly mother had suffered a fall and was lying in the intensive care unit. She had fractured her skull and there was concern her brain had been injured. The doctors were in a ‘wait and see’ mode and because of the circumstances I knew I had to get on the first plane I could.

During the next week I witnessed my mother’s quiet transformation from her physical ending with her gentle glide out of this realm into what awaits as a sister and I sat with her in the deep of one quiet night.

If you’ve ever been involved in what goes on in an intensive care unit, then you’re aware of how outcomes start to co-exist; where a person can both be fighting for more days and letting go both at the same time and those in attendance do what we can to accommodate the ebbs and flows of reality as it skirts its choices.

Sketches of a Passing of Spirit

If you’re a regular to my blog then you’re well aware that for the past several years I’ve been doing a lot of drawing. I drew now. Three drawings, shown below.

This first image depicts my mother as a young woman standing in between choosing life on earth (the unicorn) and flying away into whatever’s next (the pegasus). This is how I experienced the reality of those first days when we simply had no idea where she was headed, or wanted to be headed.

She weighed the choice between earth and heaven....

She weighed the choice between earth and heaven….

The next drawing I made showed my mom as her favorite earthly animal, a kitty, floating comfortably in a soft basket surrounded by the prayers, wishes and hopes of all who were concerned with her well being.

She floated on a cloud of hope and prayer for the best outcome for her....

She floated on a cloud of hope and prayer for the best outcome for her….

The final drawing came to me as a finished image the morning after she passed, as a tiny youthful version of herself lying back on the white fluffy fur of a giant flying kitty taking her to the place where spirits go. An important detail was how I saw her with her arms behind her head as she hadn’t been able to comfortably lift her arms up for many years due to the ravages of arthritis throughout her shoulders.

Her journey to what's next begins.....

Her journey to what’s next begins…..

A Tribute to My Mom

My mom and dad

My mom and dad

As several of my sisters and I prepared for her memorial service we got to relive her whole life through the objects and photos she had saved over the years. Below are a couple of my absolute favorite of her. My sister, Deb Lampert, wrote and delivered and absolutely brilliant eulogy which ‘ve included at the end of this post.

On behalf of my dad, Jim Roberts, and my whole big extended family, I want to thank you for joining us here today and also thank you for the outpouring of sympathy and loving kindness you have expressed in our loss of my mom, Joanne Joyce Roberts.

As my sisters and I spent the past days going through thousands of family photos and my mom’s personal effects, it occurred to me what an amazingly rich and deep life she led.

The youngest of six in a Scotch-Irish family of some privilege, she spent her childhood in suburban Chicago as the world recovered from financial collapse.

During World War Two her family decamped to a farm 30 miles away, one that her father purchased to make sure his boys had work and his family wouldn’t starve.

Joanne Joyce, Lake Bluff

Joanne Joyce, Lake Bluff

From the experience of raising chickens my mother learned that life can be immeasurably brutal – it’s a chicken – eat – chicken world sometimes. But she also learned that trustworthy leadership and kindness can tame great beasts, as she raised a bull calf to adulthood.

As a young mother in 1950’s suburbia, she turned her talents and attention to raising her girls, gardening and local politics.

It will surprise no one to learn my mom, from the beginning, was sought out by politicians for her insightful wisdom and advice. She has always been smarter than most everyone else in the room, but always used that power for good.

Her respect and favor were treasured by all of us to whom it was given. She was able to meet each of us wherever we happened to be, not particularly concerned by extraneous details.

This put her in the company of a colorful cast of characters – hippies, senators, millionaires and murderers, pirates, soldiers, cowboys and truck drivers, princes, missionaries, musicians and butchers. And these were just the characters my sisters and I brought home as dates.

The happy day my mom married big Jim Roberts in 1967

The happy day my mom married big Jim Roberts in 1967

When I was a teenager she met and married the great love of her life, my dad, Jim Roberts.

Together the two of them finished raising us girls, traveled the world together and kept two lovely, welcoming homes.

My mom’s professional career was always in a job that had her advising people and training them how to be ever-better versions of themselves. This was true in all of her relationships.

Her guidance for right living came from the Bible as well as her own mother’s proper Scottish manners.

For both these reasons she found great peace and happiness here on St. Simons. She loved the expression of respect and deference here that largely disappears the further north you go. She loved the soft ocean breezes, as she described them, and the familiar friendly small-town atmosphere at St. Simons.

Most of all she loved her church, her church family, her wide circle of friends, her husband and her immediate family – her girls, nieces, nephews and grand children.