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Joy’s journey home


One of the great fears of aging — no matter what our age — is dying, or losing a loved one. But suppose things are not quite how they seem?

Some people think that death is the end of everything. But I am not one of those people. And the reason — one of the reasons anyway, a very special reason – has to do with Joy, my wife of 25 years, who I lost 20 years ago, on December 15, 1991.

We were married in a spiritual community in the interior of British Columbia in 1967 and lived there until she died. An extraordinary life together. An extraordinary adventure. We had a son, we followed the call of truth, we created a newsletter called Integrity which opened friendships all over the world, we made nine visits to India.

And then one day – who could have imagined such a thing? — life plucked Joy from me.

“Your wife doesn’t look well,” said the stewardess

We were flying home to Vancouver, British Columbia, after celebrating our 25th anniversary in the Caribbean. Joy moved to the rear of the plane, saying she had a headache and wanted more room.

Then came the surreal moment when a stewardess stopped beside me and said my wife didn’t look well, and would I please take a look at her.

I soon realized, though I couldn’t really believe it, that Joy was not really present anymore as I had known her. I tried again and again to reach her, to speak to her, but all that happened was that her eyes rolled back and forth this way and that in her head.

She had such a lovely face. Such a broad, radiant smile, well worthy of her name. But when we reached Vancouver, Joy was taken immediately to hospital, where after awhile a doctor, very grave, summoned me to his office. Joy had suffered a fatal aneurysm to the brain and there was nothing they could do to help her. “You must make peace with yourself as best you can,” the doctor said.

What sort of advice was that? I was numb from head to toe. I was more numb than a block of ice. I sat beside Joy for about four more hours while she lay in a coma, or so I was told.

“Home,” she whispered softly

But here’s the strange thing. Every now and again Joy would turn to me and look at me. And I swear that more than once she winked at me. Then came a moment, as unexpected as sunshine in the midst of a thunderstorm, when I felt she wanted to say something. I bent my head toward her and heard her whisper, softly as a piece of silk falling to the floor, “Home.” Just one word. But a word I have never forgotten.

As Joy closed her eyes, never to open them again, I wondered for a moment if she meant she wanted to be taken from the hospital back to our home in the interior of British Columbia. But then I knew it was not that. She was moving into a different realm of eternal light and peace and she wanted me to know she was fine and everything was going to be all right.

Since those last few moments I have often felt Joy’s presence with me as I continue on with my life. If I have a particularly difficult situation to face, for example, I sometimes think of her and I feel her presence and her peace.

There are some words from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita, that I have always loved. I hope I remember them correctly. They go something like this:

“Thou grievest where no grief should be. Not thou, nor any one of these, ever was not, nor ever will not be.”  Thank you for sharing this anniversary with me. Please share this story with a friend if you wish. I send you blessings and love.

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