CONTENTS (Please center)
Foreword by Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones
PART I - THE OPENING
Chapter One Silent Witness
Chapter Two Conscious Dying
Chapter Three Exit Plans
Chapter Four Rising Stardom
Chapter Five Insights on the Edge
Chapter Six The Lioness Roars
Chapter Seven Where is Dave Barry?
PART II - THE DEEPENING
Chapter Eight Many Messengers
Chapter Nine The Eye of God
Chapter Ten The Verdict
Chapter Eleven The Long Debut
PART III – THE QUICKENING
Chapter Twelve Plan Vee: On Her Own Terms
Chapter Thirteen Dress Rehearsal
Chapter Fourteen Holiness & The Final Road Trip
A Grateful Heart
Before I step into this story, I offer below Vee’s Epilogue from The Green Velvet Journals, a book we co-authored and published in 2004. Vee is as much a part of Launching as she was a part of The Green Velvet Journals. Her words reflect a clear testament to the true nature of a courageous woman who chose to follow her soul’s path, always seeking to know her divine blueprint, regardless of circumstances.
“I began my soul’s journey into wellness decades ago. Four and a half years ago [January 3, 2000], I discovered the mass in my breast and needed to reach even more deeply into my spiritual core to find healing. I felt a force directing me. A deep yearning to know and experience my truth formed the foundation of my search.
On this quiet Sunday afternoon, a feeling of tranquility floods my being. Sitting in the garden I share with the squirrels and blue jays, I take in the miracle of nature. The ivy-covered arbor covering the path to my doorway embraces the deer as well as friends, family, and clients. Beside the front door, the red Begonia tumbles out of its window box, an array of bold color more beautiful than ever. I marvel at the grand design of creation. Sipping my tea, I reflect upon my own divine blueprint for life.
We are born and we die – all of us. And between those points, we live our lives and grow our souls. A favorite Chinese proverb reads, “Our destiny, or allotted time, is sealed; and when the door closes on life, it is by mandate of heaven.” In my allotted time, I have journeyed far. Now, and until my door closes, I am blessed to live in joy and peace.
Today, here in my garden, I own a deeper understanding of the process that led me from one choice to another as I savor each precious moment of life.
Although my life continues to embrace a physical challenge, it is filled with a world of sacred places. I still dream dreams and have visions of beauty and wonder.
We always have choice. I have chosen to go within when faced with a decision, being the only one who can know the needs of my soul. Here is a verbal hug to my family and friends for allowing me to do this. The inner truth reveals only love.
I have chipped and pecked away at the shell of my limitation; in the shattering of the pieces, a new, more enlightened self broke free.”
Vee Riley’s Epilogue to The Green Velvet Journals
(In The Beam Publishing House 2004)
And below is Vee’s last handwritten journal entry, dated August 27, 2014, shortly before her death:
Nick arrived yesterday. He is working on me hand and foot. Whatever that means. This afternoon he and Maryanne will do the healing session together. It will be a new beginning for us.
Nick will take my prayer and place it in the prayer wheel.
The universe already knows what I am thinking.
Let it go! Three single words but so very hard to do!
I must crack open the shell around me. Resistance to allowing myself to be free of this body and this world.
Today is all good with my decision.
(Only using a portion of the following chapter for website free preview copy)
The Long Debut
“Kate, I've decided to move forward with my plans," my mother announces.
Her words come as no surprise. I had been processing everything since she’d first told me of her plans. I’m now at that juncture and feel as if I’ve reached some level of acceptance. I’m not sure how I got here.
"Mom, I need to ask you something. Are you okay with morphine if there is pain on dehydration? Also, how will you let me know you are in pain, if you become delirious?”
“I would rather die without morphine. You know this already. Why you felt the need to order it at the end of May, I will never know. It’s remained on my nightstand all this time, unopened,” she says, annoyed.
“I simply wanted to have some on hand. You were in a lot of pain while I was presenting at the wellness festival.” I want to tell her it was Susan’s idea, but then decide against it. My mother gets up and slowly shuffles across her room. The conversation has ended. I wonder if she is planning on it all happening quickly. I feel caught in no-mans land. How does one prepare for something like this?
Later in the evening, we have a glass of wine and talk. She tells me that when she fell asleep earlier, she woke and couldn't open her eyes. "I knew I had been somewhere, and then when my eyes opened, I thought, Did I just die?” She continues, "When the wind stops, that's when I will die." One of her favorite songs, by Pink Martini, Que Sera Sera, plays in the background. It all feels surreal again.
Praise for Launching Vee’s Chariot: An End-of-Life Tale
“Kate Riley’s Launching Vee’s Chariot sings with life as she shares her intimate journey of supporting her mother through her last days. Told with humor, honesty and compassion, her story is delightfully
unique (wait until you meet her colorful, courageous, and spirited mother!). At the same time there is much here to resonate with and inspire us as we face the challenges, epiphanies, sorrows and joys that give such depth and richness to our living, grieving, and dying.”
~ Alexandra Kennedy, MA MFT, Psychotherapist and author of Honoring Grief, Losing a Parent, and
The Infinite Thread: Healing Relationships Beyond Loss.