The Invisible Connection – When Our Heart & Soul Knows Something Before We Do
“I’d like to imagine we are all of us a part of a many-chambered construct that love is continually building.”
– Rebecca Gummere, O Magazine, April 2017
At the end of February, I spent a very powerful work weekend in a Mississauga hotel.
The Threads of Life charity, that I am a volunteer with, was holding its annual speakers bureau training session. The mission of Threads of Life is to help families heal through a community of support and to promote the elimination of life-altering workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.
I was getting trained as one of their speakers. I was developing a slightly different presentation that incorporated the story of John’s death as well as the workplace safety messages of both Threads of Life and the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.
There were 12 speakers getting trained and 4 staff members from Threads of Life doing the training. Each of us speakers, and most of the staff, shared a common thread: we had all been significantly impacted in some way by a workplace fatality, serious injury or life-altering illness.
So as perhaps you can imagine, it was a rather emotionally intense weekend. However, since I have been delivering presentations about John’s death for quite a few years now, I don’t tend to get emotional during my presentation anymore.
As the presenter, I take the audience on an emotional journey for the purpose of leading to behaviour change. But I am very cognizant of not personally re-experiencing all the sorrow, hurt and trauma each and every time I deliver a presentation.
There wouldn’t be much left of me if I let that happen over and over again.
However, I do still have a heart 🙂 and I must say that listening to some of the other people’s heartbreaking presentations was quite something. But thanks to the wisdom of the Threads of Life staff, they set up the weekend so that we didn’t have to listen to everybody’s presentation. That would have been beyond exhausting!
Instead, we were split into small groups and after much preparation and guidance, the time came on Sunday afternoon when we were to deliver our personal presentations to our group.
I delivered my presentation first and it went well. Then another woman – also a widow due to her husband’s workplace death – delivered her presentation and it was excellent.
Then a third woman – a mom whose son had died at work – delivered her presentation. And this is where things went wonky 🙁
I’m not quite sure what happened but for some reason, this mother’s story managed to cut through the rather thick protective shield around my heart and hit me hard.
After she finished speaking, I put my hand up.
The woman looked at me. “Yes?”
“That,” I said, “was amazing.”
She smiled. “Thank you.”
And then I burst into tears and began blubbering like a baby. I couldn’t stop crying! The Threads of Life staff member looked at me, rather concerned.
“I NEVER CRY!” I wailed. “But I think I finally kinda get what John’s Mom went through after he died.”
Everyone else turned to look at me. I continued sobbing. Why stop now?
I looked at the woman who had delivered the presentation. “Your speech,” I said, tears still streaming down my face, “is VERY impactful. You made me feel what it is like to lose a son as the result of an easily preventable workplace incident.”
And then my tears stopped as quickly as they began. I took a deep breath, blew my nose and smiled, feeling significantly…lighter.
Then I went to my hotel room to recoup before dinner. There was a voicemail message on my cell phone to call my brother. Our Dad’s health had taken a turn for the worse.
Oh wow. Was that why I had been so profoundly impacted by the woman’s presentation?
Had I, on some deeper level, been aware of the sudden change in my Dad’s situation?
I took a few deep breaths and called my brother back. My Dad had lost consciousness and was likely going to pass away soon. He’d been suffering from dementia for a few years but had otherwise been in reasonably good health.
“Would you like to talk to him?” my brother asked.
“Yes,” I said.
So my brother put the phone up to his ear and there, in the Mississauga hotel room, I said goodbye to my Dad for the last time. I told him I loved him and that it was okay for him to go now.
Then my brother got back on the phone. “He moved his little arms when he heard your voice, Googie. It’s all good.”
I smiled and hung up the phone. I didn’t cry. I don’t think I had any tears left to cry, thanks to the presentation I’d just heard.
I made the decision not to fly back to Calgary to be with my Dad as he passed away. My three older brothers, younger half-brother and some of their families were with him, as were the wonderful staff of the care home. He was surrounded by people who loved him.
So I accompanied him on the final stretch of his journey from afar. By the next evening he was gone. Then I had a good cry.
And wouldn’t you know it, I was given the incredible gift of being able to go to the Bahamas right after that…to think, reflect, remember, write, read and rest.
Two weeks later, back home again in Canada, I was reading the April 2017 edition of O Magazine and I think I found the answer to my question: “Had I, on some deeper level, been aware of the sudden change in my Dad’s situation?”
The article was entitled “Cooper’s Heart” and it was written by Rebecca Gummere. Rebecca’s 6-week-old son, Cooper, had died suddenly from complications of the heart.
“There is no answer. But there is love, the kind that binds us to each other in ways beyond our knowing, ways that span distance, melt time, rupture the membrane between the living and the dead.”
– Rebecca Gummere
“I’d like to imagine we are all of us a part of a many-chambered construct that love is continually building…and from time to time an unheard sound comes from another room, noiseless, beyond our comprehension, received as a tug, a flicker in a dream, a vibration along the invisible threads that connects us,” writes Rebecca. “We are troubled, we are stirred, and we are not certain why, but something in us answers.”
Over and over again, I am reminded of just how connected we are to each other by these invisible threads. Perhaps it is no coincidence that I was at a Threads of Life event when my heart and soul felt the pending death of my father before my brain received the news?
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.