When mum died, I didn’t see her spirit leave her body as I did with Laura. But I was there by her side in her final hours. And ever since I have a weird disembodied feeling, as if I am not quite here. At first I thought it was a protective numbness. But now I think it might be something else.
When I returned to New York, after the funeral, I burnt myself quite badly. I’ve no idea how it happened. I awoke in the middle of the night in pain. When I put on the light I saw a row of angry red blisters breaking from my wrist to my elbow down my left arm. Three weeks later these wounds are still healing. I’ve really no idea what happened. Maybe I reached over the kettle when it was boiling, but weirdly didn’t feel it?
A few days later, I was walking my bike home from Central Park. Absent-mindedly I tripped over the wheel and landed heavily on my knees on Fifth Avenue. My bike landed on top of me. Usually I am agile and fast with the reflexes of an alley cat. But this evening two strangers had to haul me up like a sack of potatoes. Later the same night, I walked into the corner of the bed and gashed my leg.
What is going on? Is it just grief messing with my mind and body? I thought so at first. And then I remembered a talk given at the 2017 Art of Dying conference by Jeanne Denney, a soulful therapist who spent many years as a hospice worker studying the dying. She explained how ‘energy cords’ develop between loved ones, like invisible threads that bind us together. She also talked about how during the process of dying, the soul moves up through the chakras and out the crown of the head. And then she described what I think happened. ‘When someone you love dies, and you are sitting with them, you can also rise up through the chakras into this other place out of your body with them and you lose your anchoring.’
Thankfully my body seems to know what it needs now. I’ve been craving things that root and ground me, like earthing (lying out on the ground) in Central Park and doing lots of Tai Chi to gather energy up from the earth and pull down energy from the heavens. It is rooting, centering and calming. And slowly, gently, I am coming back to earth.
Drawing: Jamie Kelty