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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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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol December 15, 2011 at 10:52 am

Thank you for sharing this story of your beloved. It’s a powerful reminder to live in the now and to thankful of yesterday.
Blessings to you!

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Shareen Ewing December 15, 2011 at 10:59 am

Thank you, Chris, for sharing this precious story of my dear Friend Joy—-I learned so much from her and loved her amazing Spirit! I honor the special service you provided together on Earth.
Loving greetings.

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Joy December 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story:) I woke today very resistant to embrace beauty through the pain of knowing that someone I love very much is physically leaving my presence. He speaks to me of interconnectedness while he is temporarily away–which I know well and practice daily– so I hear your words through this remembrance that you chose to share and I Feel your heart reminding me to continue to open my own. Priceless. Thank you!

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Harriet Cabelly December 15, 2011 at 11:05 am

Beautiful!! Happy Anniversary! May you find peace and comfort in her wonderful memory and in knowing you both lived a Good life together.

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Cathy Taughinbaugh December 15, 2011 at 11:24 am

Hi Christopher,

What a beautiful tribute to your late wife. Thanks for sharing. Your post will be a comfort to everyone who reads it.
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Hilary December 15, 2011 at 11:41 am

Hi Christopher .. I agree with Cathy .. your words will be passed on by us .. that moment of peace as they go .. not at all easy – but I’m so pleased these years later you remember .. and you remember with gratitude.

With thoughts – Hilary
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Kathryn May December 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Dear Christopher,
I so appreciate your very moving post, and the very bracing and optimistic quote from the Bhagavad-Gita.
Blessings to you,
Kathryn May

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Arthur December 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Just home from visiting my partner who is in hospital, four and a half months into a 3 to 6 month prognosis for terminal cancer. Your words have reinforced my hopes and belief for our future relationship when her time comes.

I find the words of someone your age [a year more than mine] somehow more reassuring than those of younger life-style, but not to decry their fine efforts

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 10:40 am

Arthur, thankyou for sharing. I am wanting to cry a bit here at this end. Life is so beautiful, life is sometimes so utterly tragic and painful. Yet my experience is that beyond either the pain or the beauty is something else, something timeless in us all that is a door to sanity and true well-being. Regarding this, just in case you’d like to check it out, I’ve found a guy called John Sherman has a very helpful approach to share. You could google him if you want. He’s just a young whipper-snapper, mind you, 69 I think.

I am glad that we are of a similar age and I thank you again for your sharing. With love and blessings to you and your partner.

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Bernard December 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Such a touching story!
Thank you to share it.
When my father died 4 years ago I couldn’t enter the dead lounge to see him for the last time. After a while I surmounted my fear (or my sadness) and have a look to him. It was like he was smiling.
and I saw him so quiet! I shall never forget.
He was may be in his home,
anyhow, some lights in his house switched on and some phenomenons like flowers with no ageing effects went about 20 times since that date?

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 10:44 am

Beautiful words Bernard. I’m glad you did get to see your father and I’m sure he was smiling. Because I’m sure he was (and is) home. Love and blessings to you.

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Tony Palombo December 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

What a beautiful story, Chris. Thank you for sharing it. I still see a bright shining face when I think of Joy. “Home” got a bit brighter that day she ascended. My best to you and Joann during the Christmas Season.

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

Thank you Tony. I really appreciate your kind, loving words. I wish you and Bonnie a very happy Christmas also.

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Maria Frid December 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Dear Chris,
Thank you for such a touching story about your life of love with Joy. I remember her well. I was alway so impressed seeing the two of you together; a deep connection, a vibrational oneness was present between you that could not be hidden. This is rare in this world.

This substantial accord at a cellular level is not broken ever. And even though one or the other is not here on earth in present time, I believe, the union continues to endow at deeper levels.

You are so privileged to have had her present in your life and now as she moves in service in other horizons, she continues to whisper silently to you and your son. I join you in celebrating her life!

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 10:52 am

Thank you for your beautiful words Maria. You touch me deeply with your deep, loving, poetic comment. I especially love your closing benediction. I am proud to call you a friend and send you my blessings and love.

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Nazook May 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

16a19235fbVery nice post. I just stumbled upon your webolg and wished to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case Ie28099ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon! 187

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Kenneth Lim December 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Chris, what a BEAUTIFUL photo of you & Joy, such a radiance.I remember her, having known her when I lived in Toronto.

I too have lost someone close to me, my son 9 months ago. Yes, I did grieve and still find myself thinking of him periodically, and feel his presence at times. The heart never forgets. It remembers the wholesome times spent being together.. Ken

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 11:09 am

Ken, thankyou so much for sharing these words. I am glad that painful though it is, you speak of your son, Rangi. I don’t think I ever met him, but I have seen him in pictures. Such a fine, fine man. And what a contribution and gift he gave to the world, for example through his work as an emergency MD.

I feel a deep current of support and love for you in your loss. I can’t physically give you a hug at the moment but maybe I can send it to you via this comment. Blessings to you Ken.

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Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition December 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Christopher,
This was beautiful and very emotional. I for one truly believe that Joy is with you. When you feel her presence she is there. Her love for you is eternal but, I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Our bodies don’t last forever but our memories and love for one another do.
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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 11:13 am

Angela, what a pleasure to hear from you in this context. Thank you so much for your kind, supportive words.

How right you are. Our bodies pass away but love does not pass away. I just sent a hug to my friend Ken Lim. Can I send a hug to you too?

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CARLOS SAL ZURITA December 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Dear friend:
I remember those years of Integridad, the Spanish version of Integrity and I will never forget that time I met you and Joy at the First Emissary International Congress in Colorado in 1982.

I know what you mean when you mention the word Home because, sharing that time with friends like you and reading your books and comments along the years, I have realized that the real home is in the House of God. The place where everything really started and where we will return in the right moment.

I am with you to remember our friend Joy and to feel her presence in spirit with us.
With much love from Argentina.
Carlos

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

Carlos, I’m so happy to hear from you again. Thankyou for reminding me of that special time when we first met:-) Oh dear, we must be getting on a bit, mustn’t we, here we are more than 30 years later.

I do so agree with you. We are all part of the sacred home of love that is the true home of each one of us. I’m happy to feel your bright, shining spirit across the miles and send love from Colorado to Argentina. Have a blessed Christmas.

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Michel Vaillancourt December 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Dear friend,
What a touching love giving story and what a priviledge it is to share this anniversary with you. I have always love your creative spirit and I can imagine that Joy was and maybe still is a source of inspiration for you. I trust that you are well surrounded with love one in this special moment.

One with you
Michel

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Christopher Foster December 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm

It’s good to hear from you Michel. Fond memories of your radiant smile and spirit. We’re doing well thanks, moved about a year ago to a sweet little townhome complex in Denver. Blessings to you.

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Anna Factor December 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Dear Chris, Thank you for sharing those intimate moments. They give me JOY and strength in all sorts of ways. I remember you both with great fondness. Love from Anna

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Christopher Foster December 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Thank you so much Anna. You are very kind. Back at you, as they say. Love and blessings to you.

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Maria Frid December 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Dear Chris,

I meant to wish you and Joann a very Merry Christmas in my previous message. And I want to let you know that I typed the wrong word; cedular and I should have typed cellular. Please dismiss the error. Thank you very much for being such an inspiration.

Maria

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june December 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm

It is a inspiring piece but I wish I could better understand the meaning of the quote.

I am suffering a lot since my beautiful 24 year-old daughter died suddenly 29 days ago. Unlike your blameless wife, my beloved was careless with her life and died in a car accident after drinking. (I did not know she had a problem in that regard.)

The only comfort I can give myself is that I am glad she did not cause anyone else to die as a result of her action. I hope in time I can accept her senseless death and regain my natural, happy state of mind and survival instinct.

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Christopher Foster December 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm

June, thank you for sharing these touching, heart-breaking words. I shared your comment with my wife, JoAnn, and she said, “Well, put yourself back to a month after Joy died.”

But that’s a bit hard for me to do now. I do recall one afternoon soon after her passing when suddenly a flock of chickadees arrived right outside my little verandah and I thought to myself, since both Joy and I loved chickadees, “Oh, This is Joy come to say hello.” There are a number of stories out there that convey a similar kind of experience in which a departed loved one stopped by and left a little sign of some kind.

I can say one thing from my own experience, that devastating though our pain can sometimes be, it is possible to heal, and indeed, with the gift of time, discover a greater wholeness perhaps than was the case before our loss. Again, this has been my experience. But we have to be very patient with ourselves while this process works itself out, and very persistent. We have to be willing to pass through the “dark night of the soul” as it has been put.

I’m with you in your journey. I’m sorry the quote is a bit obscure. I think the trouble is some things are very difficult to put into words.

But this is what the quote at the end of my post (and my story of Joy) is wanting to convey. That while our physical forms obviously come and go, the truth of who we are — the truth of your beautiful daughter — is never lost because it exists outside this temporal world. I send you my sincere condolences. Please get in touch again if you wish.

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a vanderven December 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

thank you for sharing this moment we only go to another place.

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Christopher Foster December 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Thank you. So simple.

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Timaree December 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm

That must have been a horrible flight for you but I am glad you got the blessing of knowing your wife was arriving home. It is a beautiful story and the fact that you feel free to share It speaks well of your current relationship, another blessing.

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

Timaree, thank you and bless you. Yes indeed, I’m so thankful for JoAnn. As a matter of fact, this may sound strange, but more than once we have voiced a suspicion that perhaps Joy helped us get together.

Be that as it may, I will always believe that synchronicity, as they say, did indeed help JoAnn and me find each other in this new chapter of our lives. A wisdom greater than any mental scheming or calculation, for sure. Have a great Christmas.

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Kojo Akuamoah December 16, 2011 at 5:05 am

We appreciated Joy’s spirit to the extent that my wife Grace and I named our first daughter after her in 1978. Chris, we in Ghana thank you for linking us to the Emissaries through your Intergrity magazine. We still cherish your friendship.
Regards,
Kojo.

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

Hello Kojo, this is so special, I don’t know how you found your way here but I’m delighted that you did find your way here. Such warm memories of you and your lovely wife. What a lovely name your wife has, by the way, and how well she lives up to it.

I cherish the friendship I feel with both of you and send you sincere greetings and love.

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Florence December 16, 2011 at 7:26 am

So beautiful, so inspiring. Thank you very much

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 11:55 am

Thank you Florence. A real pleasure to hear from you. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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Evan Griffith December 16, 2011 at 8:53 am

You beautiful man. Thank you for diving into the deep for us . . . .

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Christopher Foster December 16, 2011 at 11:56 am

Blessings to you Evan. Every good wish for a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year.

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carolyn December 16, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a poignant and real memory. I’m glad you took comfort in her last word and believe it took monumental love and strength for her to
extend to you a word that you would recognize as something bigger than the obvious.

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Vlad | Simpler Life Today December 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Hi Chris,
I am deeply touched by your post. Your story is both inspirational and timeless. I happened to suddenly lose my father to aneurysm thirteen years ago.

Although utterly tragic, this event evolved into something quite beautiful. Not having my father in body, I learned to sense his immortal spirit with me whenever I think of him. He is just as close to me now, as he was in life.

This ongoing process of births and rebirths is inevitable. It leads us to a deeper understanding and evolution as we head toward the infinite bliss – the divine consciousness. Peace to you. Vlad

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Christopher Foster December 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

Dear Vlad,

Thank you for these beautiful words. Do you know, I’ve had just the same experience with my own father. In life, I’m sorry to say, we were not close at all. I didn’t understand him, he didn’t understand me.

But now, just as you so beautifully describe, I feel his spirit with me, cheering me on as I too meet the challenges of life. Dad was 95 when he died, and liked to say you could put his medical history on the back of a postage stamp.

Thank you again for your remarkable testimony. Blessings.

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Patricia Boxold December 17, 2011 at 9:10 am

On December 15, 2011 our oldest grandson graduated from boot camp. A sense of helplessness and pride was embedded within me. From diapers to Army uniform, pride, sadness,and sense of fear.

But fear is not good, it minimizes the joy of life. I pray 10,000 angels always surround him.

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Christopher Foster December 17, 2011 at 9:54 am

Thank you for sharing, Patricia. The angels are there with him.

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Noch December 18, 2011 at 6:21 am

very touching. i’ve not experienced loss but i imagine it must have been very difficult. thanks for carrying on. and thanks for Joy keeping you company in your heart. because you carried on, many lives out there have been touched by you
Noch
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Christopher Foster December 19, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Thank you Noch. Alwqys so happy to hear from you. We’ll both keep carrying on, right? Blessings.

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Noch Noch December 26, 2011 at 9:37 pm

YUP! 🙂
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Meta December 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Hi Dear Chris: Was good to hear you on the phone line this am. Really loved what Larry expressed. I saw ‘Joy’ in your post and knew you were saying something about THAT day on the plane.

Brought back many wonderful memories, like the time we had lunch at the 108? Wonderful food with wonderful friends. Joy was such a JOY. Such a change of life you had but with so many wonderful friends that gathered around you — all over the world. I could go on and on, but enough for now.

Hard to believe it has been that long ago — on the other hand it has been ten years since Stan died, and 7 years since son Stan died. Changes occur and Life transforms us. Your words about Joy and what happened are very heartfelt and beautiful. Thanks. Much Love, Meta

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Christopher Foster December 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm

So true Meta. So true what you say. “Changes occur and life transforms us.”

I just love your sharing and am so thankful for your friendship. Like so many in this world we are both wounded warriors. Butas so many have also discovered wounds can hasten the process of transformation and renewal for which we all yearn. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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Wendy Krueger December 19, 2011 at 12:11 am

What a beautiful tribute to your wife. I like that her name was Joy as well. You can see how much Joy she brought to your life.

I am not sure if you read the eulogy from Mona Simpson, Steve Job’s sister, but it was a very beautiful tribute and you could tell he knew death was not the end either:

“Mona Simpson talked of his loved brother and his final words. She told the attendees of the memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University that Steve looked at his sister Patty, stared for a long time at his wife and children, then seemed to look beyond them before uttering the words: “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”

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Christopher Foster December 19, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Bless you Wendy. Thank you so much for sharing Mona Simpson’s eulogy. How touching it was, and how very beautiful and sacred those final moments of Steve Jobs’ life must have been.

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Kathy Donchak December 19, 2011 at 11:21 am

For those struggling with the pending death or recent loss of a loved one, you certainly will give them hope. Many blessings to you that you are able to share this with the world.

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Christopher Foster December 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Thank you Kathy. Good to be sharing this journey with you. Have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

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Vinita December 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

Christopher, what a wonderful way to remember your wife! And you always have her with you… 🙂 Strangely enough, my latest post has a resonance of this thought. Do take a look and tell me what you think.

Wishing you joy and peace,
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Christopher Foster December 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Hi Vinita,

I was just at your blog and love your new post. I left a comment, something like this: “What a beautiful, gorgeous post. You have tackled this difficult subject in such an authoritative but imaginative way. Well done — well done. Have a wonderful Christmas.”

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Vinita December 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Christopher, thank you – for taking the time to read, as well as for the encouragement! Wishing you and yours much holiday cheer, 🙂
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Jimmy December 21, 2011 at 1:17 am

Dear Chris,

Bless your heart, kind and touching man. I feel your loss in this post as much as you feel yours on this anniversary. Allow me some words of healing:

Take heart when she leaves
For life never truly ends.
It is not a tragedy
Entering eternality.

When you cry your tears
Her heart is equally pierced.
When you mourn for her
She feels your deepest hurt.

As you journey on alone
In this world call life,
She watches you always
As you feel her peace.
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Christopher Foster December 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm

What a beautiful poem Jimmy. Thank you. I am very, very touched. So kind and thoughtful of you to share these words.

I hope that others will find comfort in them also and send you blessings and wishes for a wonderful Christmas and happy New Year.

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