Down the Mountain and into the Garden

This is an excerpt from my soon to be released book; A Series of Surrenders ~ a memoir of grief.

Published by Balboa Press. Expected Release date September 1st, 2019


As I traveled down the mountain towards the airport I became numb. It felt like the world around me was carrying on with its turning but I was frozen. Numb soon transformed into guilt as I was sure I was meant to be feeling something. The mother who had lost her child only yesterday was surely supposed to be full of feeling. So, numb became guilt, and so I drank. Wine was necessary and not sipped but gulped. I drank at the airport bar and then the whole flight home. By the time our plane landed in Brisbane I was drunk and had become delirious. My sisters, Heather and Elizabeth, also drunk, were delirious with me. The smallest thing seemed funny as I guess we were laughing to stop tears. My mother was silent. It all felt surreal and then after touchdown very real again. In the car driving towards home I let my eyes close to seek numb again. The wine helped to ease me into a lull as the passing lights of the highway blurred the road home.

When we arrived at my house I announced to my sisters and mother that I would be going in alone. If I couldn’t bring Sage home then no one was coming home with me. My irrational hope was if I was alone maybe I would be closer to my son. All I found was empty rooms. My drunken stumble led me to Sage’s room. The smell was familiar, the toys and books well worn and strewn around, the colors bright as a young child's room should be. I sat on his bed and waited for my expected sadness and tears but was shaken by a rage that propelled my feet to fly. In an unconscious strike, I kicked the pedestal fan and felt satisfied when it hit the floor with a clang. I stomped my heavy drunk feet through the house and stopped in the back room at Sage’s desk. I picked up the chair at his desk and threw it into the backyard. That felt good. I walked into the kitchen and my glaring eyes sought out the breakable items. I stopped frozen in a moment of clarity through the haze. “No Debra put yourself to bed.” Knowing no good could come of the day you fly home without your son, I staggered to my room and passed out.

In the morning I woke with a heavy heart and a sore head. With coffee in hand, I stared at the chair in the backyard. I stared into the garden for I don’t know how long, but long enough to realize I had a choice. I descended the five wooden stairs into the garden and picked up the chair. I went to Sage’s room and picked up the fan. I walked from room to room. I was alone in a home that was now without heart. It was like walking through the skeleton left behind after the decay of flesh makes its way to completion. I was left with the remains of a life I had built and the bones that show a body was once here.

It was time to open and fill the spaces between the bones. I knew that now more than ever I needed to lean on Spirit and those I loved. If I closed in now, it was possible I may never open again. So I sent out word and opened my home. I invited everyone who knew and loved Sage and they all came. They came bearing their gifts. I centered myself and began to receive. Years later, I learned that I had in my own way “called the sitting of Shiva,” a Jewish week-long death ritual that follows the burial of a relative in the home they inhabited. My garden version of sitting Shiva was the constant flow of people, food, wine, tears, connection, laughter and stories of Sage.

As my fascination with Spirit, magic and healing continued beyond my twenties and deepened in my thirties, I had come to rely upon my sense of intuition, my belief in angels, the power of the universe and believed we were all connected - not just in this life but in lives before and beyond. My studies in natural healing and my lived experience as a Reiki Master shaped my spiritual practice. Teaching Reiki, using oracle cards for guidance, and the practice of meditation and affirmation had become my norm and I relied upon them to help me navigate life. I wondered as I sat on the kitchen floor, where I had landed when my legs collapsed under the heaviness of shock and the early waves of grief, how this would play into this new chapter of my life. How much would my spiritual practice help me? It was no longer time to study or teach, it was time to apply. A quiet yet present part of me feared that it would not be enough and despite the effort, I would still drown under the weight of grief. I became not only curious but felt a responsibility to find again the silver lining. I reminded myself that death comes bearing gifts.

Justine was the first to arrive. “What will happen now?” she asked.

I didn’t know the answer but I knew everything had changed and would never be the same again. I glimpsed a moment in my future. A time when I would be okay again. It felt like life was to be re-assigned, re-imagined and re-defined. But not yet. Now the time asked for me to sit and to be. To be with the knowing that my son had died.