Saturday, July 9, 2011

flying into the cosmos

last night's sliver moon was held in the mauve twilight sky above the silhouetted north shore mountains... has time stopped? days have become hours... hours have become minutes... just this... holding my father's hand, stroking his forehead, face to face with impermanence... the challenge of surrendering to the unknown with trust, boundless love, forgiveness, and gratitude.. breathing in, breathing out... just this.

- from notes I took during the weeks of my dad's passing.
Being with my sister, my brother and his son while my Dad passed was such a sacred gift. Because the process was one that extended for 3 weeks, it enabled us to be with him in such profound ways and to be by his side as he took his last breath.

During the weeks prior to his passing we all felt like we were in another plane of reality where time literally stopped, as we were so present with him breath by breath, moment to moment... listening, being, and speaking only that which felt important to say - expressions of forgiveness, gratitude and love.

When we felt like we had opened our hearts fully to one another, and the days continued to pass, we children just kept saying to each other, "Okay, lets go deeper, what else needs to be said to Dad? Let's peel back more layers..." Although Dad's words were very few at the end, he continued to respond with big smiles, sparkly eyes and by squeezing our hands.

In the last five days of his life he was in the hospice where we were able to camp out with him in his room day and night. The last three nights were quite sleepless as it felt like we were getting so close to his last breaths. We sang songs from our childhood camping days for him - so many old campfire songs, accompanied by my brother playing my Dad's old harmonica.
Dad from the 1940s

One of our favorite songs that we sang with our Dad playing harmonica was 'Swing Low' which we sang several times to him in his final hours and at the time of his passing.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin' for to carry me home;
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin' for to carry me home.

I looked over Jordan,
And WHAT did I see,
Comin' for to carry me home,
A band of angels comin' after me,
Comin' for to carry me home.

If you get there before I do,
Comin' for to carry me home,
Tell all my friends I'm comin' too,
Comin' for to carry me home.

My brother took this film of my dance in Vancouver close to the airport after dropping my sister off there a few days after my dad's passing. I am wearing Dad’s hat from when he was a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

When he was in the hospital suffering with pain, he told us at one point after he was given morphine that he was ‘flying’ and that he saw heaven and that it was beautiful... Years ago he had shared that he used to have dreams of flying, too... that it was a place where he felt free.

Inspired to dance this dance of grief at the loss of my Dad and to embody the experience of his passing - the acceptance of his transition into the great mystery, the realm of spirit... out of his body and his suffering and into the realm of light... to embrace the feeling that he has transcended into a higher plane that exists beyond the physical realm, but that connects us all to the great unknown and the cosmos.

This dance also embodied for me the challenge of witnessing his struggle - his relentless holding on... literally, too - to the bed rail, the catheter tube, to the blanket, when we were not present, and to our hands when we were. His grip was so strong...

Dad as a pilot with his RCAF hat.

Goodbye Dad... I love you.

Mom and Dad... 1940s
Dad pointing the way to their future... Touches me deeply to see this photo now... pointing the way into the heavens and the great mystery...

Thank you for viewing this most personal blog post. I hope it may inspire you in some way.
With gratitude,

I was thrilled to find this version of Joan Baez's 'Swing Low' as our family had met her in the late 1960's while we were hiking in Garibaldi Meadows - she was camping in the same meadow - high in the alpine beauty of wide open skies and flowers...
During the time of Dad's passing the symbology of metamorphosis was very predominant... transitioning into a new 'being'... after the above dance I loved seeing these kites flying high into the cosmos... with the image of a butterflies upon each one...


  1. Dear Lee;
    This is so beautiful. The photographs are so full of emotion. I cried during your entire dance to "Coming to Carry Me Home".

    It will be a year on Wednesday that my Mother passed away. I am feeling her presence everywhere and remembering those incredible days leading up to her death; intense and unlike any other time in life.


  2. Thank you, Kate, for your kind and heart-full comment... it means so much to me... yes... it is such a sacred time like no other and one i never could have imagined ahead of time...
    Love and light to you,