This deathbed complaint was not intended as humor, although we five children chuckled at our father’s impatience with his own death.
As his physical form deteriorated, his spirit would swing like a pendulum between dimensions, often conversing with family members long ago departed.
In long conversations between my aunt and myself, we frequently shared our speculations of life’s passages, entering and departing the physical form. Differing in spiritual practices, we united in curiosity and a belief in an eternal life beyond. If so, on what plane did that life continue? At 96, my aunt received her answers. Where did she go? What is the “she” that I refer to? Are we still connected?
In my mother’s final hours she blessed me. Pulsing through her hand, her remaining life force energy transferred into mine. “You did it,” tearfully whispered, for after years of criss-crossing the bridge of dementia, she would now remain on the other side. On the other side of what? What is the dimensional delineation?
As the body shuts down, it seems the soul begins a delicate do-si-do between the physical and the spiritual dimensions. This is the same do-si-do glimpsed through childbirth, and characterized as a veil.
This thin veil between the physical and spiritual dimensions is fascinating and confounding.
What happens to the soul as it releases from the body? Does it depart immediately or linger? Does the process of letting go continue on the other side of the veil? Are the wounds of the soul made whole, or cleansed before fully releasing from the physical? What is required of a soul? Does it remain individual, or meld into the collective? When does Grace enter?
Various faith traditions hold that the spirit lingers, for minutes, hours, perhaps days after the body dies. What occurs during the linger? What occurs in the bodha, the space a soul occupies before reincarnation?
The cyclical nature of eternal life, reincarnation, or samsara, provides the opportunity to heal old wounds, learn needed lessons, and make past wrongs right, as the soul strives for final release from an ongoing rebirth, moksha.
It is daunting to comprehend this eternal life with a conscious, three- dimensional mind. But what is consciousness and where does it reside? This chosen belief of an eternal life, is another delicate dance between reason and faith. So yes, my dear father, perhaps it does take forever.
Patricia Walsh-Collins is a 41-year resident of Bucks County, with a 26-year career as a professional educator. She is creator and owner of Art of Spirit and Art of Spirit’s Earth School.