Wednesday, September 20th 2017

Breathing Room: How do you find it after a little child has died?


What can we do but keep on breathing in and out, modest and willing, and in our places? ~Mary Oliver

We all need breathing room. A place where we can go to be recharged. For me, that room is on the inside. It cannot be located on a GPS. It is inside of us that peace descends and no where else.

After my daughter’s cancer came back for the second time, she had to have it removed — once again from her right leg. It was a malignant tumor known as rhabdomyosarcoma, a big word to be destroying such a tiny person. She was almost six when this recurrence came about.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. My minister friend Dan and I were in the hospital chapel and I was able to practically scream out: “It just isn’t fair… I can’t stand it!” She recovered from surgery and had radiation. Then, she was given six months to a year to live. I wept as I spoke to someone at St. Jude’s (Laurie was getting her treatments in Atlanta). “Having a child with cancer makes strong people weak and breaks weak people.” True enough.

So how did I find breathing room during those years? I went inside. I journaled, recorded my dreams, studied esoteric philosophies. Yogananda became my friend, as he has been to many others. Joel Goldsmith influenced me to a great extent as well as other spiritual healers and teachers. Now when I sit in the silence, that silence is my breathing space.

One fine day Laurie had to up and leave us. She had been in a coma for a few days. But the day before she died, she woke up. I was at home and her father told me about this. She sat up in bed and said, “What day is this?” What time is it?” and soon was comatose again. The next day she died in my arms.

How do you find breathing space after a little child has died?

I am not sure I can tell you in words. I imagine you are with me as you read this account. You can probably feel the hot tears plopping into the cart as I wheeled her belongings from that hospital room. As I told her older brother,”…Laurie died today.” The world stopped. How was I to breathe again?

I let something else breathe for me; all of those teachings were inhales and exhales of the spirit. Now I can tell you that the world never stops — it just feels like it does. Many who knew Laurie abandoned me when she died. They couldn’t take it. But the teachings were there for me when human beings couldn’t be.

This is a world filled with fear and illusion. If you don’t know that, you will learn it soon enough. My daughter, at the age of five, knew the joy of transcendence. She came into the world with it. I credit her with pushing me into a higher atmosphere, where God breathes for me when I cannot do it for myself. Someone said that thank you is the only prayer that you will ever need.

I write to remember that.

Vicki is a spiritual teacher and writer who lives in Atlanta, GA. Listen to Vicki’s new meditations, A Way Out of Suffering and In the Center of the Circle on the podcast page of her website. You can also listen to this article by clicking here.

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7 Comments on “Breathing Room: How do you find it after a little child has died?”

  1. I am constantly amazed how the words I need to hear come at the exact moment I need them and no one says them more perfectly than you. Every time I read something you write -everytime- my heart opens and my soul resonates because I know I'm reading the Truth in it's most honest and pure form. You've walked the walk where many others fear to tread and just talk about it. Your wisdom astounds me and nourishes me. Thank you for sharing your gift.

  2. Vicki, you're the voice I don't know how to bring forth. You breathe deeply in the cancer wards for those of us who prefer to push peas in the hospital cafeteria. This piece shows how you are one of the treasures of spiritual literature.

  3. It's your authenticity, Vicki, that makes your writing so healing and so alive. Your words, always heart-driven, are able to rattle the bars on the mind-cage we all live in. Blessings forever to you.

  4. the children and animals are our best teachers. they are complete and help us to evolve when we have the courage, as vicki did, to learn abd grow.

  5. It's beautifully written which has to do with your transparency,
    staying close to feeling and putting a compelling story line
    together. The truth is stranger, more startling and beautiful
    than fiction at times.

  6. Sometimes people cannot bear hearing my story. Then I am tempted to close down on what I know to be true. But there is beauty and healing in what I share or I wouldn't have been given these experiences. They are "dark night experiences" that only bear fruit when brought consciously to light.

  7. Vicki,

    You story goes to the deepest and darkest waters that I can imagine. In the brief time that I have "known" you, it is clear that you have brought back many gifts from those mysterious places.

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