Whats and Whys

Nothing real can be threatened
Nothing unreal exists
Therein lies the peace of God
—- A Course In Miracles

I guess you can say it’s all about perception. Philip says, “Mom, my perception is different now. Let me help you see.”

Elizabeth Blue helped me see, too. She wrote, “…the land will miss my body./Perhaps it will be lonely/I think it will weep./I think it will miss me/more than my body or mind/could miss it.”

First off – she’s right. If we are the world, then look at how Lucia misses her daughter. Look at Elizabeth’s dad and sister, all her family and friends, who goddamn miss her. Hell, I miss her, and I never even met her. But when Elizabeth speaks to Lucia, when Philip speaks to me, there’s no sorrow. There’s light and wisdom.

Although Philip once asked me how I felt when I’d see him sad, troubled upset; wasn’t my heart wrenched? How do you think it is for me, he said, watching you suffer like this? And he asked me what responsibility means to me. Which gave me pause to think how once he died there were certain responsibilities I threw away. What does it matter anymore; he’s dead? So what if I don’t act like the mom I was when he was alive?

I’m saying this seriously; I’m talking about the ways I stopped taking care of myself, the ways I tried to hurt myself, because Philip died. Things I’ve not yet talked about here. Why did I think any of that was okay because he was dead, but it wasn’t okay when he was here? Not to mention that he isn’t my only child. What about Natalie – didn’t I still have a responsibility to her?

But perception, and Elizabeth. To take what she wrote a little further. What is the world when we’re not here to witness it? How real is it then? And before you say, “Are you freakin’ crazy? It’s obvious the world is still here when you die – people die all the time and the world’s still here,” don’t listen to what I’m saying with your mind, listen with your heart or whatever you call the place in you that has room for wonder. The mind wants the kind of proof that makes it impossible to believe anything other form is real and it’s completely dismissive of space. Which, by the way, is necessary for form to occur in. But who ever thinks about that? What do you look at when you’re looking? Space, or the objects in that space? Space can’t be nothing, since without it, there can’t be anything.

What’s this have to do with perception? Just that we don’t see it all, literally or figuratively.  We dismiss space as nothing because we can’t see it, yet it’s essential. Which is to say that what we can’t see is not nothing.

How many different ways are there to perceive the world, and which one is real? An animal, an insect, a bird – they don’t see the world the way we do. But we have a higher consciousness, so our perception is correct, would be the argument. Fair enough. But think about this.

An ant goes on about its ant-life without knowing anything about us. It scurries around all day doing its ant-things according to however it’s perceiving its ant-world, which we happen to share with it. It knows nothing about us human beans. See, we have the bigger picture. We see the ant even if it can’t see us; we exist even if the ant isn’t aware of us, even if what we do doesn’t figure into the ant’s life. Which it mostly doesn’t, unless, say, we step on it, which I personally am especially prone to do when it’s the big, juicy black-carpenter-ant-type. And I’d bet if an ant could think the way we do, it’d be thinking it’s the Big Cheese of the Planet, Lord and Master of every other non-ant form.

Well…what, then, makes us so sure there isn’t some other consciousness hanging around here that we can’t perceive? And if the world is based on perception, what’s the truth? The “truth” can’t be anything that changes. If what’s true for me isn’t what’s true for you, then how can it be truth? Relatively speaking, it is; but absolutely? No. So if the world depends upon our perception…and if differing perceptions give rise to different realities…what is the true nature of reality??

Could I even pretend to answer that? Of course not. I’m just trying to put words on what all I’ve been thinking about since Philip died. What he’s trying to teach me, what he’s asking from me. And seeing how much I don’t know. It’s the willingness to not-know that makes room for the miracles.

I’m trying to tell a story and it’s textured and layered and I keep backing up before I go forward. When I ended the post about signs, I said I had more. Which got me to writing a story I wanted to tell you. Which then got me writing another story that had to precede that first story because it needs some context to be effective. And somehow, I wound up writing all this.

And I think it’s because the fact of Philip giving me signs or experiences doesn’t leave me making fists with bent elbows, pulling them down to my hips and uttering a loud, self-satisfactory Yessssss! Philip told me early on that signs were pointers. In themselves they are not “truth,” but pointers to that truth. Reminders to pay attention. So what does this mean? What does it mean that the things Philip communicates are visible, but he isn’t?  Signs, listening, dictation, direct experience; these don’t take away the grief. Always the duality. Always. I weep for him every day; yet he’s all around me, always reminding me that he is.

But I’ve so many questions. What is Death? What is Life, for that matter? What’s it mean that we’re born to die? What’s it mean that so many people communicate with their dead loved ones? The “is-ness” of Philip, of Elizabeth, is palpable, but I want to ask what can’t be answered: Where are you??

In other words, what the hell is going on here?

© 2013 Denise Smyth


21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. fluckman
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 07:40:45

    Thanks as usual thought provoking. The last two paragraphs are reassuring as they simply reflect my own experience and sense of ‘his’ signs and the deeper life questions my son’s death has evoked.


    • Denise
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 20:29:30

      Death either forces us more into life or it takes us with it. How easy it would be to be the walking dead. Would our children want that? No. I used to think what Philip “wanted” meant nothing. He’s gone – he’s past wanting. But that’s not the way it is, not really. He’s offering me a different way to live. It’s up to me to do it.


      • fluckman
        Oct 10, 2013 @ 01:20:03

        What an unequivocal invitation to wake up to! I was asked on Saturday if I’d abseil down Pembroke Castle keep. I thought a very little and said, No. Wanting to support the community project I’m very involved in I thought afterwards who in my family might. Sulien would have jumped at it. I received another circular email last night looking for people to take part. The first thing I noticed this time was the date 9th march 2014, the first anniversary of his death! Needless to say I signed up and asked for all the other places left for his friends. I think moving more into life generally and opening up to deeper intimate relationships specifically with my fellow man has been one of the surprising changes since he died. At one point I almost felt guilty so many things were opening up.

    • Denise
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 08:06:22

      Wow – a year to the day?? Talk about signs…

      My life also has opened up tremendously. I’m startled at how much “better” my circumstances are now than when Philip was alive. But that’s his gift to me. He keeps asking me to live from my open heart; the place where it hurts, but also the place where there’s grace and freedom.


      • fluckman
        Oct 11, 2013 @ 07:44:06

        Thanks Denise. 8 of his family and friends have signed up for the abseil so far and I’m hoping money raised will go towards a project in my town for young people. So here we are (our is it ‘he is’) beginning to organise his first year anniversary!

  2. Lucia Maya
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 10:39:26

    Denise – oh how I love this. Even if you hadn’t quoted Elizabeth, I would have loved this! I love all the questions, you made me laugh out loud with these fascinating, vexing, mind-twisting wonderings…

    I can relate to the duality of being terribly sad they are gone, Elizabeth and Philip, while in the same moment knowing they are here. Though if I’m crying, missing Elizabeth, and “someone” has the awareness to tune in to her spirit, I often will start laughing, at the ridiculousness of being sad when she’s right here…

    I notice these days I sometimes feel a similar sadness/longing if I see a photo of my younger daughter at age 3 say, as I’m thinking of memories of that time, how fun and cute she was, and how close we were, and how that one is no longer here (as she’s now 20 years old and in college far away)… And then I wonder, is this any different? I’m mourning someone that used to exist, but is no more, but what is really true??

    I love you and your writing. Thank you, I needed this this morning. Starting the process to sell my house and it’s exhausting! This helped.


    • Denise
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 20:38:38

      And I love you, Lucia. You’re always in the back of my mind. It’s one of those things where I think, “Lucia is going through this; if she can, I can, too.”

      I just went through Nadiya selling her house – I was involved only because I lived there, not because I had to “do” anything. But I saw how much work it was, how time-consuming. I guess I don’t have to tell you to just keep breathing…

      I don’t know why I feel Elizabeth’s presence so strongly, but I do. I think you’ve captured her essence with your writing, with posting her writing, and with all those marvelous, captivating pictures. I adore them and really, thank you for sharing them. I know I always say this, but it’s true – it’s a gift. You’ve given us all the gift of Elizabeth; first, by bringing her into the world, and then by sharing so much of her when she left it.

      Don’t stop writing, Lucia. The world needs you. But mostly, I need you.


  3. tric
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 12:39:41

    Today is my Dads 26th anniversary and I still miss him. I read on a site today that Goodbye cannot be said in a moment, but rather takes years. i think that is so true. Initially I missed my Dad too much to feel him near me. Grieving is a long road, but I’m sure Philip is walking it with you.


    • Denise
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 20:46:07

      Yes, he is; but God I’m so lonely for his presence. You know, when he was alive, all I had to do was think of him and I felt him around me. That’s not changed. Time collapses with death. What’s 26 years? Your dad is as alive in your memory as ever. I hope you’ve found some peace; it’s not about moving on or getting over it or whatever people say. It’s about learning to live differently, isn’t it?


  4. behindthemaskofabuse
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 16:07:20

    I wish I had the answers, all I can say is I’m glad you’re here or I wouldn’t have gotten to know you xo


  5. ~meredith
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 10:07:41

    Wow. I have nothing to offer, but thank you for such an insightful post.



  6. Denise Hisey
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:16:12

    It seems your seeking and questioning is part of your healing. A big journey…


  7. Denise
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 17:20:02

    And a lifelong one. I’m graced that Philip’s around to guide me.


  8. Becki Duckworth
    Dec 19, 2013 @ 21:55:29

    The world will still be here, but your world is not the world you had nor wanted, its a different world.


  9. Denise
    Dec 21, 2013 @ 01:39:22

    It is, and it’s up to me how I live in it.


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