Our visit with Pegi in Picton was sometimes painful – she was clearly so uncomfortable. She called the experience of ALS “torture”. She didn’t want to live like that anymore….
I know she was happy to see us, especially Liam and Neli. Her face would light up whenever they were near. Overall, I know it was important. Being back at her house again felt comfortable… nostalgic…. Many things were the same as I remembered, but more things were different. She was different, I was different, everyone was different…
There it is: In life, we can never truly go home again.
Pegi and I talked a bit about what might happen ” in the afterlife”… For a long time she had believed that when you die, that’s it, lights out, that’s the end of everything. I told her of the book I read recently, by Deepak Chopra, Life After Death. In it, he provides stories, anecdotes and analysis of various peoples’ near death experiences from many countries and cultures around the globe. The conclusion that seems to be drawn at the end of the book is this: whatever you believe will happen to you after you die, that is what you will experience. Pegi liked this idea. She decided to believe that she’d be with my dad again, that’s what she wanted to believe would happen.
Maybe that’s the difference between life and death, in death you can go home again, yet in life, the natural changes we experience cannot allow us to feel we ever get there.
Pegi passed away on March 10, 2016. This came as a shock, especially since we were just there visiting her at the end of February.
I travelled to Picton again at the end of April for Pegi’s memorial service, just me this time. My good friend Mary-Kate Gilbertson from Guelph came with me for the weekend. She was my “memorial midwife” for sure… She helped me with many things but especially helped me to allow myself to feel included in the Pickering Clan. This had been one of my great fears, and the story I made up was that I wasn’t really part of Pegi’s family. As I held onto that story, over the years I was committed to finding lots of evidence to support it…. I had to say goodbye to that story and also say goodbye to most belongings that I’d had at Pegi’s place. All these things that helped me feel connected to her home, my home, were now unnecessary clutter… The phrase “Does this bring you joy?” became my mantra as I went through the process of deciding which items would be let go… Digital photos became my saving grace – into the cloud!!
I can’t share all of the details on the specifics of it all, but I can share what I’ve learned so far, which is this: 1. The stories we make up and hold to be true (our beliefs!) dictate our experience, 2. Home is an idea in the heart that changes over time, and yet we all yearn for reunion, and 3. Love is what matters most and it’s there to be felt if we allow it.