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Going Gently Into the Light
I recently celebrated what would have been the 100th birthday of my mentor, friend and surrogate mother Sadie Nickerson, a powerful woman who had mastered adversity. However, time caught up with her 87-year-old body, and congestive heart failure was shutting her down. She had weeks – maybe days – to live. But, I don’t want to think about that – I’d rather remember my last visit with her, and how her going into the spirit reinforced my belief that life goes on after us to experience this movement called death.
July 17, 2001: All day, I felt compelled to visit Sadie, who was in a nursing facility two hours away. Her gentle, naked face came into my mind when I was making my children’s breakfast, and thoughts of her came again that evening while I was on the phone to my boyfriend and chatting over him. a cup of English breakfast tea.
Every time I thought of her, the urge to visit was stronger.
That afternoon, I jumped into the car and drove through a light summer rain. I thought it was a lucky sign to see a parking space right in front of the nursing home’s front doors, and run through the water into the building.
A gray nurse looked up from her computer monitor and gave a bright smile. “Are you here to see someone?”
“Yes. Sadie Nickerson.”
“Oh.” The smile slipped away. I didn’t have to be psychic to read the woman’s mood. “Are you a friend or family member?”
“A friend, but considered family.”
She got up and asked me to follow her. Our footsteps clicked across the polished linoleum floor as we walked down a long hall. Dark, blocky letters were etched into the hard plastic nameplates outside residents’ doors. Here and there, wheelchairs were propped up against the walls. The pointed beige walls had an industrial look, as if the hall belonged to something built in Russia under Stalin.
I said, “She doesn’t have long, does she?”
“No.” The nurse was businesslike, but not unfriendly. The tone of her voice suggested someone whose job was to deal with death every day, and who had found that forming connections with dying people was a surefire way to burn out emotionally.
At the end of the hall, she led me into a simple beige room. Sadie lay on a bed, her covers pulled up to her chin. An oxygen tube under her nose went into a nearby respirator. Her breathing was punctuated by gasps. The side window was open; Fortunately, it had been raining that day, because Sadie’s room overlooked the area where workers gathered to smoke. On some days, I had to cut my trip short because it felt like the air was swept with a dirty rag.
She smiled when she saw me, and her eyes sparkled with life. I pulled a chair next to her bed and held her hand for a few minutes, and felt her strength return. We talked about our families and how often her son visited. Then we gave each other readings. It was something we always did. Her message to me was worrying my children. I wish I could remember her words, because they were the last ones she gave me.
Suddenly the wall across from me was surrounded by soft white lights, like a collection of decorative china plates. But these oval lights were hard. And even though they were white, I felt that they were faces looking into the room.
“Saltar,” I said, amazed, “you are surrounded by spiritual people!” It was a magical moment, and I couldn’t stop laughing. “Sadie, everyone is here for you!”
The lights were in form: Three rows of seven. Did that mean something? I was hoping the spirit people would talk to me. But they went down slowly, and again I faced a pale, beige wall. And then I was left with the feeling that I might have thought of everything.
I turned to Sadie. Her eyelids were fluttering, and I could tell she was tired. I stayed with her for a few more minutes, then I shook her hand and said goodbye. I thought she nodded, but today I’m not sure.
The next morning, Sadie’s son called. He had gone into the hospital to visit his mother, and he found out that she was dead around 6 in the morning. He was troubled, and I wished I could stay with her. longer. A hole had opened in my life. I had just lost my teacher, my mentor – my best friend.
Then I realized that I was the last person to talk to her. But I was not the last person to see her – that honor belonged to all her spirits on the other side of life.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other spiritual matter, please feel free to write to me at [email protected] And please visit me again!
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