These are the words my partner Ian uttered a week before he died aged 49.
That was the first time in the six years I had been with him that he had ever said that.
And then he added these words:
“Why have I been so blessed to experience all this?”
Now this had been a very long (almost ten years) and very painful journey and he had just come home from three weeks in hospital during which he had almost died, and yet he was filled with gratitude and awe.
Ian wasn’t a religious man. I doubt he had stepped foot inside a church since he was a child – if then. His spirituality was Nature. He loved nature – reverenced it and was deeply connected to the Australian bush.
We had a deep soul connection, him and I, and we were on a journey of intense spiritual growth together. It was a journey that was potentially, when seen through the eyes of the ego, full of suffering. Emotionally, mentally and physically. And yes, initially we suffered but because we learned to be open to whatever arose, paradoxically, the closer to death he came, the less we suffered. And the Love and Joy that underpins all creation became steadily more evident.
Eckhart Tolle in his book New Earth, shares these wonderful words:
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”
In a previous post I mentioned driving up to Perth to meet Ian while he was being flown there by the Flying Doctors, and I said I would share some more of that story. It appears today is the time to do that.
Ian was flown to Perth because the varicose veins in his esophagus had succumbed to the pressure on them and tore. He began vomiting blood. The local hospital decided to send him to Perth for the operation that could help stop the bleeding. In the meantime, he was given a drug that thickened his blood and temporarily stopped the bleeding.
For whatever reason, the operation was delayed for 36 hours. I had taken the book A Course In Miracles with me and read to him from it. Eventually he had the operation which involved putting bands on the veins that were bleeding, and it appeared to be a success. But within 24 hours he began passing blood and it was clear the bleeding had started again.
The decision was made to give him a blood transfusion. My memories of that night are of the quietness of the room, and the tangible feeling of love and peace that filled it. We understood that if the bleeding could not be stopped he would die, and yet there was no fear, no stress. I continued to read from A Course in Miracles to him about love and peace and miracles in between helping him to the commode – he kept passing blood, more blood, more blood.
At one time I looked over at him, cuddled under a mound of blankets because he felt so cold, and he had a beautiful smile on his face. He sensed me looking at him and opened his eyes and said “Don’t mind me, I am in a place of unconditional love”. This from a man who had struggled with feeling loved all his life, who rarely felt he belonged and who didn’t have a specific religious faith. As the life-force was slowly ebbing from his body, for the first time in this life he really experienced God. He was enveloped in unconditional love. He was returning home.
The nurse put the second bag of blood up. The bleeding continued. The third bag went up. Unbeknownst to us at the time, this was the last bag.
He told me later that he left his body. He was looking down on himself lying on the bed. He saw angels around him, and people in this life who knew what was happening and were thinking and praying for him. He said to the angels “We are going to stop this bleeding. You go to Bunnings (a hardware store) and get some epoxy and I will trowel it on these veins” (he was a carpenter). He imagined it happening .
The bleeding stopped.
The medical staff were extremely surprised. Ian wasn’t.
The next morning they told us the operation hadn’t been a success and there was nothing more to be done. The Doctor said to Ian “I hope I have as much peace and acceptance as you when my time comes”.
They arranged to send Ian in an ambulance back to our local palliative care unit to die. With a paramedic in the ambulance in case he bled out on the way home. Ian knew he wouldn’t.
He spent a week in the palliative unit, then came home for a week before the veins tore again. Two days before he died, he was up on the roof helping us clean out the gutters.
This experience he was given – a reminder of the essence of God – total, unconditional love – filled him with awe and gratitude. He died in peace.
Why have I been so blessed to experience all this?
When we are truly open, accepting of the present moment, not resisting at all – Love, which is God shines through.