Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, one of my closest friends died.
It wasn’t unexpected. But it did come more suddenly than we thought. The whole thing seemed to happen so fast. Last year, we had plans to visit her and her sweetie on New Year’s day, and she decided to take a rain check as she had an important doctor’s appointment the next day. Nothing serious, she just wanted to get something checked out.
That something turned out to be cancer.
Less than a year later, she was gone.
We got the call on Christmas, as we drove home from Christmas dinner with my sister. Her husband wasn’t sure she would last the night. Thankfully she did, and was still with us when we arrived on December 26th. She passed at roughly 11:36pm that night.
Here’s the thing – her death, sad though it was, for she was far too young, was also strangely beautiful and inspiring.
Does that sound callous? Delusional? Did I make it beautiful in my own mind, to buffer myself from the pain of losing a dear friend? It is possible. However, I have borne witness to 3 deaths. 5, if you count cats, which I do. They are family too, after all. Each death had a different quality. My father’s death, although fairly peaceful, was much more matter-of-fact.
Teresa was a trained magician. And honestly, I have no better explanation for why her death was so much more majestic than my father’s. She departed this world in an array of lights, shimmering blues and golds and whites. I began seeing these lights as soon as we got the phone call on Christmas night, and they lasted several days after her passing.
Admittedly, I have always been a very visual person. It’s as if my third eye came into this world on acid and never came down. I have had to find a framework for this, and the language of magic fits better than anything else. Either that, or I’m in need of medication, but this interpretation has always felt annoyingly dismissive.
That said – Teresa’s passing was psychedelic as all get out.
This is what it felt like:
It was as though she was streaming out of her body for 48 hours. Gently diffusing like an essential oil, permeating the room with her essence, slowly and steadily rising out and up, as though she were rising on the plains. And the lights! The air around her was positively crackling with lights! Blue and green and white and gold – like fireworks. As her life force ebbed away from her body, the room was infused with this pulsing energy and light.
When she was gone, she was gone. Her body was an empty husk, nothing of her lingering.
And yet this perception of light lasted a good 3-5 days. My perception shifted to the view of all life as a river, that the things of our manifest world are not so solid as they appear, and that all life blinks in and out of the world of form in an endless dance of light and energy, never truly ending, just returning to a great sea of consciousness.
I have perceived the world like this off and on since childhood, and it has always struck me as somehow more “real” than our day to day mindset. It has always felt like an undercurrent that exists just beneath the surface of habitual perception. I don’t always live in this mindset, due to the need to participate in the day to day world. But it came back to me as a consequence of Teresa’s passing, as if she were leaving me a final teaching before she went, a reminder not to forget. It was utterly beautiful, to the point of ecstasy.
Were my brain inventing a story to protect me from the pain of loss, I would expect comfort. But ecstasy?
Were my brain inventing a story to protect me from the pain of loss, wouldn’t it have produced a similar experience when my father died?
“What exactly is going on with consciousness?” remains, for me, one of the most fascinating question life has to offer. What is this experience of life being a river, of the separateness and concreteness of matter being rather less absolute than they appear? The postulation that we can explain away these experiences as mere brain chemistry does not hit the mark for me at all. It feels like just the very tip of an unimaginably vast iceberg. Why do we have these experiences? Why do they so often strike us as more profound than “real” life? These are the questions that captivate me. Our brains give us the ability to have them…but what purpose do they serve, and why does it feel so essential to who and what we are as humans?
I don’t have answers for these questions. I do have a conviction that these experiences are vital.
Larger questions aside, I sit with the observation that each death has its own story to tell, its own current that manifests as an extension of the quality of life that person lived. My father, who lived his life without any strong spiritual convictions, felt as though he sunk into the earth, dissipating into the elements and molecules. My friend Tara, who passed a few years ago, felt to several of us in the room as though she shot out her heart and into the body of Hecate. (Complete with a spontaneous song to Hecate shooting through T. Thorn Coyle at the moment of Tara’s passing).
Teresa felt as though she rose up into a vehicle she created for herself through years of magickal practice.
In writing this, it is not my intent to attempt to prove or disprove magick. Only to stay open to mystery. It is my will to acknowledge Teresa’s friendship, her wisdom, and to honor this feeling that as she departed, she left me a very great gift, a feeling that life is so vastly more beautiful and fascinating than we can ever imagine. Teresa was a friend that I spent many years exploring life’s mysteries with, and as she departed she gifted me with an experience of mystery that I will not soon forget.
Thank you Teresa. May you be blessed on your journey, and may we meet again!