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Carol's Story
by Annamaria Hemingway

Should we not offer up a prayer first of all to the local deities?
--- Socrates

Prayer is a way of communicating with a higher power, and ancient texts verify that the existence of prayer dates back many thousands of years. All the world's major religions have various forms of this devotional act. Prayer acts as a dialogue between the Divine realms and earthly existence. The power of prayer can bring about transformation and healing.

At the end of her lectures, Carolyn Myss used to tell a story about a woman who had a near-death experience following a horrific car crash. As the badly injured woman left her body, she could hear the thoughts of all of the people who were stuck in a traffic jam that resulted from her auto accident. At one point, she noticed some twinkling "lights" coming towards her. They entered her body, and she felt nourished and loved. She wondered where the lights had come from. Suddenly, she was transported to the fifth car that was caught up in the jam. She saw and heard the driver, who was inside the vehicle, praying for whoever was in the accident. Before returning to her body, she got the license plate of the car. Following her recovery, she managed to track down this person's address, and personally delivered a dozen red roses. She explained that she was the person the driver had been praying for.

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On my wedding day, which should have been the happiest day of my life, three of my friends came up to me and said, "Do you know who your mother-in-law reminds us of?" They went on to ask me if I had ever seen the film 101 Dalmatians, and remembered the character of Cruella de Ville!

Sadly, this unfortunate caricature very accurately depicted my husband's mother, Jean, in appearance, tone, and actions. She picked and started a fight when my husband and I returned from our honeymoon, and the constant friction and rows soon doomed our marriage. The divorce negotiations ended up taking twice as long as our marriage had survived; Jean paid for my husband's attorney, and they were hell-bent on suing me for alimony. During this difficult and painful period, I took solace in my charity work, which had trained me as a volunteer in hospice, to ensure that no one need die alone.

One day, while I was at work, I found out that Jean was on hospice care; the doctors did not expect her to live for more than a few days, and my ex-husband Alan had no support in caring for her. As soon as I heard this news, I closed the door to my office and prayed in silence that God would surround her with love and light, and make her transition an easy one. Later that day, I called and left Alan a message, saying that if he would like me to sit with Jean for a night so that he could get some sleep, I would be happy to do so.

I didn't hear anything back, so I went to my regular spiritually orientated study group meeting. I added Jean's name to the list of people in transition from this world that we wanted to pray for. At the end of our group meditation, in addition to having her name read out loud, there was a special moment of silence when my colleagues were praying to amplify whatever prayer I was offering. I prayed once more for Jean to be surrounded with love and light, and that God would make her transition a peaceful one.

After the meeting ended, I checked again for messages from my ex-husband. There were none, so I went home. I felt quite exhausted, and crawled into bed and turned out the light. Within moments, I felt as if someone were in the room. I switched the light back on, and discovered that directly in front of me was a pearlescent figure. It was solid in appearance, because I couldn't see the wall behind it. I was startled by this manifestation, and screamed. Immediately, the figure collapsed, as if withdrawing from the veil it had pushed through to visit me. I never took my eyes off it until long after the silhouette of its shadow had started to fade, and once again I was looking through where it had been and could see the wall across the room. I knew this apparition had been Jean.

Oddly, my first thought was, "Well, I'm glad that doesn't happen to me very often!" I thought I would call a mutual friend of mine and my ex-husband's, to see if Jean had made her transition. So when I woke up in the morning, it was the first call I made. The friend confirmed that Jean had indeed passed the night before. I then enquired as to the exact time of death, and discovered it was during the period that we had been praying for her.

It's a strange and fascinating thought, that the person with whom I had by far the most difficult relationship in my life ended up giving me the greatest gift that I had ever received. For I knew this was confirmation that we do survive the death of the physical body. It also provided me with the knowledge that I had grown enough to be able to feel compassion, and sincerely pray for someone who had caused me such a lot of grief.

Later, I was to discover that Jean had also changed a lot during the final stages of her life. She had come to realize that many of the ideas and concepts that she had spent a lifetime valuing were irrelevant, and that loving her children was the only thing that really mattered.

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Excerpt from the book, Practicing Conscious Living and Dying, by Annamaria Hemingway, published by O Books - www.o-books.net For further information visit: www.practicingconsciouslivinganddying.com

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