Barbara died at 2:11 am on friday morning. it was kind of like a movie scene. she was surrounded by her immediate family and her husband and although we were all devastated, there was a serenity in the room that i don’t ever remember feeling at any time before this moment. it was beautiful in the most cruel way.


it was all so surreal yet solemn. since all the palliative care workers told us that the hearing was the last sense to go we all kept our voices low, especially at the very end. at the finish line, if you will. we formed a circle around Barbara, held onto each other so that we were all connected through touch and we talked about random things that i can’t even recall. murmers, whispers, quiet sobs. the cn tower glistening in the distance, all the city’s bustling that went about outside passed by us unheard and unseen. we were in our cocoon tucked away from the world, sending off our loved one into the next world.

after she passed, and yes, that is how it happened. her chest simply heaved one last time, released the air and then stopped. no agony, no twitching, no pain. like the bellows no longer opening or closing. her body simply shut down and ceased to operate. after she passed the two wonderful psw’s that had stayed with us quietly bundled up my sister into a chrysalis of blankets while the rest of us cried, hugged. i was so unbearably relieved that it was over. it might sound strange but this was the reason why we were all there. to say goodbye to Barbara and to hold her hand when she died. and that’s what we did. and now it was done.

we sat around in the living room, drinking, reminiscing, crying. it must have been around 5 am when my brother and i went next door and had another beer in the kitchen. it felt strange just being a twosome. siblings are a team. at least we were. had been. a trio, a force to be reckoned with. it was us against everyone else if it came down to it. and here we were, he and i, lost for words but connected in our love, our blood and now in our grief. forever.

i went to bed, collapsed into it and slept.

that’s when Barbara visited me.

in the dream i am sitting next to her bed. she is lying on her side. then she opens her eyes, sits up, gets up and grows, expands, widens. she rips out of her stomach the two lines that are connected to her medication pump. she throws the tubes on the floor all the while rising, growing, her arms sprouting like branches, her legs taking root deep in the centre of the earth, her head tearing through the paper ceiling and reaching above the clouds in the sky. she looks powerful, a little menacing even but also free. i can sense her shedding her pain and leaving behind the arduous road of her life. she is unstoppable and i couldn’t be happier for her.

the dream gave me a great sense of comfort and at the time it might have saved me from losing my sanity completely. i was grateful to Barbara for sending me this message. i do believe that’s what happened, that it wasn’t some psychologically explainable occurrence but that it was a profound experience from the other side. i was thankful to her that it was so immediate.

it’s only recently, the last few months that i started to see the other side of the dream. my side. while i am still very grateful that she was able to have a good life and that she was able to die peacefully, i have been abandoned. she left and i stayed. in the dream, i noticed that i keep shrinking. or maybe that i simply remain the same. which seems sadder and lonelier. i keep looking up at her until she is so large that i can no longer discern where she begins and where she ends. it’s almost as is she engulfs me into her being that is no longer physical. that’s the best way to explain it.

and that’s when it hit me because what i perceive from this dream today is that by wrapping herself around me she was essentially providing me with a spiritual hug, not one i was disappearing into, as i had felt before, but one that would give me a safe haven, a protective shield that would give me the strength to move on with my life. it has taken me more than four years but i finally understand that she was trying to show me that all along. that she would still be with me, no matter what, that she would help me from her place in the beyond. and that the experience of losing her would in fact make me stronger. i always believed that in my head but now i can believe it in my heart.

the road, however, as you shall see, has been far from easy and i know that there are still bumps ahead of the way. but at least i can now see a way and that it’s leading somewhere and that i finally have the fortitude to keep walking it.