LESSONS FROM DEATH AND BEYOND
I was in the presence of a woman I had known as a child; her name was Katherine. She had been one of the cafeteria workers at the school I attended with her daughter, Anna.
Katherine walked with a limp, a deformity from birth. Katherine was slender, with porcelain skin and dark short hair. Her eyes were a warm brown and her voice was kind and tender. Many times I did not have the thirty-five cents to pay for lunch. Katherine would just nod and write the charge on a sheet without embarrassing me or allowing other students to know. When mama cashed the milk check, I would quietly slip Katherine the money I owed for my brother, sister, and me.
Her daughter Anna and I were best friends. We grew up together in a small farm village called Grand Gorge in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Mama, Papa, Rosa, Antonio, and I immigrated to America when I was seven, from Carini, Italy to Brooklyn. Four years later, I was running through the fields on a 350-acre farm. Growing up on the farm during the turbulent sixties, the Viet Nam War, and the outside world, seemed like a distant drum.
Katherine made me feel welcome in their home. Anna and I were able to discuss with her various situations that kids have at that age. Eating American food in their home was a treat for me. Being an Italian immigrant, mama only knew how to cook Italian food.
Anna and I had recently graduated from high school when her mother, Katherine, died of cancer. I grieved her death like I would have a member of my own family. She had been a mother figure in my young life and someone I had loved and trusted.
It was now ten years after her death and I was face to face with Katherine. I understood that I was having a dream and that I had transcended into another reality while in a dream state. I was aware that she was no longer in my world; and yet, I was seeing Katherine. There was an acceptance of seeing her and I had no fear in her presence. I have since understood that fear is a human emotion. Since I was in the spirit realm, there was immediate acceptance and acknowledgment of what I was experiencing.
It was white around us, misty like clouds, which extended far beyond any boundaries. There was nothing visually distinctive other than Katherine. She looked the same as when I had known her as a young girl, healthy, vibrant, and young. She stood a few feet in front of me. I saw her only from the waist up. Even though I do not recall her opening her mouth, we conversed.
Katherine said, “Give Anna a message for me. Tell her everything is going to be all right.”
“Why not give her the message yourself?” I asked with inquisitiveness and wonder.
She answered with a comforting and familiar voice, “Anna would be afraid if I went to her.” I internally accepted her response and settled my inquisitiveness.
I thought, this is a perfect time for me to ask her questions since she is no longer in my world. She knows the answers that I wonder about. The first question that came to my mind and a universal question that humankind ponders at one time or another, “Is there a ___“. I had not finished thinking the question when she directly answered me.
“Yes, there is a God.”
“What’s God like?” I asked.
“Not the way you imagine Him to be.”
At once, before she had finished her words, I felt a vibration of warmth within and a feeling of immenseness. It was as though there were no boundaries or barriers that could contain this feeling of joy. I was humbled by the experience. I internally understood - this is the True God, which transcends humankind’s capability to comprehend.
The perception I had of God when I was growing up was that of a grandfatherly man, with a white beard, ready to judge, condemn, and throw me into the depths of hell. This image was now immediately dispelled. I could not dwell upon this inner feeling because there were other questions I wanted answers to.
Another universal question that seekers of Truth want to know, “Is there a Heaven?”
“Yes,” she said, “there is a Heaven.”
“What’s Heaven like?” I asked with wonder.
“It’s like the gypsies’ secret,” Katherine said.
There was an internal grasp to her statement of the gypsies’ secret. I will never understand Heaven until I become part of that world. Human words cannot make clear the unexplainable things that pertain to the spirit world. Heaven is indescribable, incredible, joyful, and a wondrous place to be. Yet, there are limitations to these mere mortal words because heaven is much more.
Something stopped me from asking her any more questions about Heaven and God.
I have often asked friends what they think the gypsies’ secret means. They have not been able to give an adequate answer, to which I instantaneously understood. The gypsies are cloaked in mystery and are a closed society. They have a lifestyle and culture that defies society’s perception and penetration. There is a saying, “If you ask twelve gypsies the same question, you will hear twelve different answers. If you ask one gypsy the same question twelve times, you will hear twelve different versions.” So it is with heaven. There is no one definitive answer because there are numerous versions of the same question.
I woke up and could not believe what I had just experienced. As I lay there in bed, I felt dizzy. I could still feel the glow of love vibrating deep within. There was awareness that my experience with Katherine had not been a dream. I can only explain it as I had been there with her and now I was back. I had been fully conscious and responsive to what I had been experiencing during my dream state. I knew that I had connected to another reality, which is as real as the one I live in.
I was aware that I had spent time conversing with Katherine and understood that this was not the time for me to remember the particulars of our conversation. It would be years before my soul would reveal the secrets and the amazing experiences of the path that was before me. At this time, I would not have been able to grasp the events had I remembered our conversation. But my soul understood that my time had come for my journey to begin.
This was the beginning of these amazing insights.
My first reaction was, why me? A humbling question I would ask of myself many times in the years to come.