Chapter 21 -------- Crossing Over
The final two weeks of Danielle’s life were full of more than just miracles and spiritual experiences. It was a very memorable and positive experience. The disappearance of the pain gave us an almost sublime time together. The support from the community was paramount in helping to create a stress-free environment. In this place of peace and love, Danielle would channel divine energy. Danielle continued having startling realizations. I believe the first big one was about having a supportive community.
It was clear to Danielle that not all people were capable of being present for someone who was dying. It wasn’t easy for some people, and their behavior would result in less than ideal actions. After many people failed us, Danielle came up with a solution. “The Inner Circle,” as she called it, would be one of Danielle’s most important contributions to helping others in the future. The combination of and “Inner and Outer Circle” would provide greater benefit to everyone.
It was a system that she developed to assist a community in giving the proper support to people who were sick or dying. The inner circle would consist of several individuals who were committed to upholding the goals of the person needing assistance. It does not work when people are divided about how they should behave or help. The person in need is always the one who suffers when there is conflict.
Regardless of differing opinions, it was extremely important to be united in the cause. Which means that once a line of treatment is chosen all people, regardless of personal beliefs, need to support the patient’s decision. Support is what truly unifies the inner circle in a common goal. We didn’t have support like this until we enlisted the help of Danielle’s friends. The people Danielle choose to be close to her met her inner circle requirements.
The Inner Circle was meant to be the direct line of communication between the outside world and the individual. It would be used to reduce as much stress and provide as much support as necessary. Danielle was very proud of her revelations explaining how imperative it was that I share her idea. She stated that it was important to have individuals who were emotionally strong in the inner circle. Those who were less in control of their emotions would need a different role.
Danielle assigned the “Outer Circle” to people who were less capable emotionally. This was an ideal place to put people who wanted to help but don’t have the time or energy. Many people fall into this category. Due to the stresses that society has burdened people with, many people lack the ability or available time to continually participate in the dying process. Not to say that many couldn’t find the time. Instead, our experience showed that most people are already at their limits.
I was a perfect example of how getting overwhelmed causes destructive emotional reactions. I think it is honestly easier for people who aren’t extremely close to an individual to behave appropriately. In a society that does not recognize emotional strength nor teach emotional strength in any congruency, we can’t expect people to be experts. Danielle and I both recognized a huge failure that our society made when people are terminal or near death.
Too long, I went without any direct experience, and the small experiences I did have before my wife, were with Grandparents who lived at a distance. I felt that I had failed my family a bit by not offering my help more. It made me feel bad, that as families, we often forget the amount of stress that comes with watching someone you love die. The longer that families deal with the problems, the longer the stresses build.
In six months of dealing with the illness, both Danielle and I were exhausted. I couldn’t imagine people that deal with years of treatments and all the side effects that come with Chemotherapy. I had witnessed that reality almost daily working in the Medical Marijuana Dispensary. I could see the stress between couples and the relief that many found in Medical Marijuana. It was even more difficult to hear stories from others who told of more failures.
The Hospice nurses and volunteers all confirmed my fears that many people don’t receive “healthy” support from their family at the end of their life. We were gifted with five incredible women who were instrumental in helping with making the final weeks as easy as possible. I was getting more help from the ladies every day. It was a group effort to help support Danielle and also to help carry out her final wishes. It would be a challenge for all of us.
I still don’t know how Danielle did it, but after the pain stopped, she planned all of her funeral arrangements. It was an incredible feat to watch as she accepted what was going to happen. It was clear to Danielle that she wanted her memorial service to be something special. She had difficulty deciding on which direction she wanted to go. After much thought, she elected to have two separate services.
The reason she wanted two is to have one specifically for the adults and another for the children. The adults needed to have a safe space to express their feelings. Danielle didn’t want them to hold back at her service. There were things that Danielle wanted all of us to say as adults, without any hesitation. Danielle wanted to protect her students from anything that may be upsetting.
Danielle knew it is not easy to let go if you are worried about offending young children. Danielle made it imperative that only high school age and up would be allowed at the adult service. Danielle wanted people to let it all out, to be emotional and share. We had shared so many strong feelings about everything with each other, so she knew right away that I wanted to speak at her service. It was clear that there were some serious things that I wanted to discuss in my eulogy, and Danielle knew that.
It was important to both Danielle and I that I comment about supporting. In a town like Sedona, where people pride themselves on acting with love and light, we rarely saw it. Far too often, we were victims of a “more enlightened ego.” These people think they are helping, but they are too self-absorbed to discover how they can, in reality, help. Instead, we had people who were “enlightened,” telling us what was best without any concern for Danielle’s choices.
I’ve been there too, especially when it comes to thinking I know what is right. My spiritual quests have led me to many profound answers that have changed the way I live my life. I even tried to force other people in my life to adopt these principles as I knew it would improve their lives. However, in the process of helping, I was ending up with the opposite result. For years I was completely unaware of why I was causing this to happen, despite my best intentions.
Now I understand my mistakes and why I failed so many times. My experiences were individual and unique. No matter how much we try to follow in another’s path, it still always becomes our own. Just because I have read the information that would work for me, it doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Danielle taught me that lesson over and over.
I learned this early and couldn’t force my treatments on my wife. Sadly, even spiritual workers fail at service to others even though I expected otherwise. The amount of Ego that spiritual workers display is offensive at best. I see it in the condescending nature that most use to identify people that are “low vibration.” The attacks and disrespect create separation among people who would otherwise be interested in spiritual growth. If we only encouraged each other, the possibilities are limitless.
I’ve met some people that can read thoughts. A powerful life-changing experience, to say the least. I consider all of my thoughts before I think them because who knows who is listening. I have even met others that can read past lives and even talk to animals. The number of people I’ve met that break the conventional mold is in the hundreds. Each one is living life in their unique way. These differences are not wrong because every person has their truth. Even ignorance lives in its false reality, but it doesn’t make that reality any less real.
In my experience when it comes to living in a reality that many spiritual guru’s live in, what is correct for one guru may not be the same for another. Many live in different perceptions of reality. It isn’t an easy concept to grasp for many individuals since we are taught otherwise in schools. The power of belief is challenging even ideas like aging and fitness. There is even a scientific revolution happening in epigenetics that is proving all of this true.
I learned about a society in Africa that lives in a completely different paradigm than the rest of the world. In this African culture, they believe that the longer you run, the more skilled a runner you become. According to this community, the older men are stronger runners. The idea challenges our conventional model that we are less capable as we age. When science went to check this phenomenon, they found that the elderly African runners were physically equal to elite young runners from America. I’ve reconsidered beliefs because of these discoveries.
I was truly a witness to the power of belief being active in our day to day lives. I also realized that the power of our belief is far more complicated than I could have imagined. The subconscious plays such a vital role in our beliefs and how our reality unfolds. I watched as my deepest desires and needs constantly manifested in ways that still boggle my mind. In good and bad ways, the constant strangeness still fit into my belief structure. Danielle’s beliefs were different than mine creating a far different experience.
I watch as my wife’s beliefs were attacked and questioned by people who thought they were helping. Few people in the world tried to comprehend Danielle’s situation or sensitivities. She faced a lack of support from family, from doctors, and supposed friends. This reinforcement led to Danielle permanently questioning her treatment from start to finish. This belief pattern was entirely subconscious because she rarely mentioned it around me. It was in her last days that she pulled someone aside and truly asked if she should have tried the chemotherapy.
I thankfully didn’t find out until after my wife’s passing, as I don’t think there was anything I could do to fix it at that point. If I had addressed it from the beginning, we might have stood a chance. After months of her family questioning her treatment options, it became negative reinforcement. However, I believe the idea was cemented in stone by the doctors we were forced to visit. That part upset me the most.
Every doctor by law is required to remind Danielle that she would die if she didn’t choose to undergo treatment. If belief is power, then I believe the doctors convinced Danielle she was going to die. I found she put a lot of faith in what they had to say. I even had to approve any of my recommendations with the Doctors. Danielle put Doctors on a pedestal above even common sense.
It was tough to face that reality because it seems criminal to sentence someone to death. Again I mention the Placebo and Nocebo effect as perfect examples of why belief can be so powerful. If doctors didn’t believe in the power of belief, then why would all medications need to pass the placebo test? From my perspective, I had plenty of reasons and people I trusted to reinforced Danielle’s decision. I thought we had removed that doubt, but I failed in my efforts. The doctors, in cooperation with Danielle’s family, had truly set her up for disaster.
We did everything to make my wife better, and everything we did for some reason failed. It was a huge hit to my ego, especially considering all the research I did on the topic. I did not doubt as I had stated before that the dozen treatment choices we made were all potential cures for her cancer. My research showed that the IV and changing the diet were enough to cure cancer. We were doing light treatment, alpha-lipoic acid, mud baths, and it all failed Danielle.
The reason I find that none of Danielle’s treatments truly worked is that she ultimately doubted all of them. Her friend had confirmed the doubt she still had. Strong subconscious doubt had been there all along. Danielle never told me, and honestly, if she did, I wasn’t willing to listen to such nonsense. I thought we had already ruled out chemotherapy as an option. I wouldn’t say I was completely surprised to discover this, but the confirmations were infuriating. Which is why supporting a treatment choice is so important.
Thanks to the women who were helping many of the feelings that Danielle worried about sharing with me were easily shared. It was this added help that brought a huge level of peace to our relationship. We no longer were faced with many of the stresses we had before. Now that Danielle wasn’t in constant pain, her demeanor was radiant. She was back to her usual loving and compassionate self. It was amazing getting my wife back even if for a short time. For so long, our struggle had slowly eliminated much of the beauty that we once shared.
This time allowed us both to talk again and get very deep in our conversations. With the added information that Danielle was downloading from the other side, it made for interesting dialogue. I found our discussions about the angels that were visiting her the most interesting. She told me about several women who passed that were coming to visit her. There was an entourage of angels that seemed to be following Danielle through the process. I didn’t mind the extra help.
One of my least favorite topics was about me and what would happen to me. It was clear that Danielle didn’t want me just to be thrown on the street. Danielle realized that had she left the house to her family that they would have most likely kicked me out of the house immediately. I still didn’t want the house, but I also didn’t want to have to move immediately either. I wanted some time to cope with all the feelings I wasn’t dealing with at the time. I was suppressing a lot of emotions to be of service to Danielle.
Danielle had asked the parents of Rose if it would be a problem if I get six months in the house. They agreed that would be fine. It was even more than I could ask for, but I knew I would need several months regardless. I was not making any plans beyond Danielle. However, Danielle had some guidelines for me to follow after she passed.
Which often led to the next big topic of discussion. Danielle demanded that I never have anyone in the house of a romantic nature. I agreed and would tell Danielle that I couldn’t see myself moving on if I ever did for a minimum of a year. Out of principle and the fact that she was my wife, she deserved respect. Even though we had only been together seven months, I still felt out of respect that Danielle deserved that because she was my wife.
Danielle always had a hard time believing that I would wait. Considering that many of the examples of widowers she knew about, moved on within a month or two. That idea was appalling to me, considering that I know it would take me longer than that to come to terms with my own emotions. It wouldn’t be fair to someone else if I still were hung up on my wife, it also wouldn’t be fair to my wife to fill that void with something that needs time to heal. It was clear that Danielle didn’t understand that I was going to need time, but I knew that already.
I had already been single for the year before meeting Danielle, which gave her a little reassurance. Even though the issue came up often, it rarely offended me. There were times that she would get stuck in a pattern of accusations, but I would usually put those quickly to rest. I never questioned my devotion to her, and it was unbreakable. Thankfully, I was not the only one to rise to the occasion.
Danielle’s friends were the ones that rose to the occasion, exactly when it was needed. At nearly two weeks without food or water, Danielle was becoming visibly weaker but still holding on strong mentally. We all had to help her move to and from the bathroom holding her up on the toilet and in the shower. I was always needed for showers since it was too difficult to hold her up without being in the shower too. I wore a swimsuit, so I didn’t scare the ladies.
The showers had become a necessity because Danielle was nearing two full weeks without food and water. Incidentally, the lack of movement had created a low requirement for energy. We felt that is why her body was lasting longer than expected. After a little research, we decided that we could do a hot-cold treatment in the shower to get her heart rate up. We found this would help her use more energy even though she was too weak to move on her own.
The first couple of showers were very intense, considering I was the one who was holding her under a dripping shower. I could do the shower myself but found it much easier to do with help from the ladies. With Danielle becoming weaker, I had to do all the work to move her. Her frail body was becoming easier to carry as she continued to wither. She trusted me with all her heart when she needed my help.
It was that trust and strength that helped both of us find the courage to face what was ahead. The new way of life was an adjustment. Danielle found it hard not having more things in the day to look forward to, her meal schedule and water schedule were huge parts of her day. Now those routines were gone, and she hated having idle hands. Danielle compensated by taking more control in her immediate life.
Constant demands were common. There was very little that Danielle wanted us to do except wait on her hand and foot. We all did everything we could to ease her discomfort. I spent hours with a warm damp rag brushing it gently across her skin. Not enough to hydrate just enough to keep her comfortable. We did the same with ice cubes to keep her lips moist. Danielle appreciated the constant attention we were giving her. She deserved it after all the pain she endured.
Danielle wanted all her pain to stop long before she quit eating and drinking. Although her body was shutting down naturally, it was still uncomfortable to endure. Constantly feeling the desire to eat and drink must be so challenging, although Danielle did it with such grace and ease. Danielle had an unbreakable will, and when she set her mind to something, she did it to completion — eventually leading to a problem developing.
During a shower, the intensity from the hot-cold therapy had caused Danielle to lose consciousness. We weren’t aware of it as we were holding her up, and she usually kept her head down. It was an experience that would change Danielle’s expectations. For some reason, she felt the stress of the shower would help her pass sooner. I didn’t understand this idea at first, but if it made her feel better than I was willing to give it a try. She immediately began demanding four to six showers a day.
Since it was nearing day sixteen, we were all surprised that Danielle was not facing imminent death. The nurse even explained that she was holding on, explaining it was now up to Danielle to allow herself to transition. This unwavering motivation to live was truly part of Danielle. She was a fighter, and never gave up on a fight. I began reminding her that it was okay to go. She didn’t have to hold on for any of us, and we wanted her suffering to be over too.
None of us wanted Danielle to go, but after seeing the pain she was enduring, we understood why it was important to support the current plan of action. None of us wanted to lose Danielle, but the truth is the disease had taken her from us long before she decided to end her life. Surprisingly this action also returned her to us briefly. It was almost harder for the ladies to watch this return only to be followed by a very rapid decline.
Following day sixteen, we were not dealing with the same Danielle. After more than two weeks of no water, we were left with a mind that could think of nothing else. The desire for water drove her every desire. She would constantly tell us how sweet water was, how much she just wanted to put an ice cube on her lips. How she just wanted to lick a wet rag or take another shower. There was no relief for her if we were to respect her wishes.
We had all realized that the showers were doing nothing but keeping her hydrated. Everyone decided that we should discontinue the practice. We ended up making the situation worse because Danielle still thought the showers could help end her suffering. She saw the shower as her solution. Holding this boundary would be my ultimate test. For over a month, I had maintained the calm composure that Danielle needed. Now it all came down to these last few days.
Danielle started a constant barrage of either asking for some ice or being in the shower. It wasn’t easy for me to sit there for hours just telling her that it wasn’t time for a shower. Even more challenging was telling her she would have to wait for another ice cube. The ice cube would just be used on her lips to prevent dry cracking. However, ice would become a constant source of water if I left it with her. She didn’t want to drink any of it. For the first two weeks, she even spat out any water that got in her mouth.
Now her normal reactions were being overridden by reactions of survival. Since she wasn’t ready to die subconsciously, it makes sense that her subconscious mind would put up such a fight. Her will to survive was only prolonging her suffering. As much as she wanted her suffering to stop, she also secretly just wished she could live a happy, healthy life. She struggled with this the entire time she was sick, and the people in her life at the end were instrumental in making sure the end of her life was everything she deserved.
Now I was only getting maybe a one or two-hour break before Danielle would throw a tantrum to have me back in the room. It was difficult at times for me to ignore the cries for my return. However, I understood that sleep and rest were equally important for me to function properly. Danielle wanted total control, but if I left, she lost that control. Danielle would spend hours asking where I was, which made things a bit more challenging for myself. The women did a great job at making sure that I would get some rest no matter what. I will always be grateful for their efforts.
Eighteen days of Danielle’s powerful presence had worn out most of the women involved. Several of the women worked in rotations to keep an extra hand around the house. We would all rotate sleep schedules to keep ourselves rested. It was not easy with Danielle crying for showers or me. They did their best to keep her calm, but she was becoming more and more difficult to manage. She attempted to drag herself to the shower on several occasions. However, I was the only one who could easily put her back into bed.
I could see that Rose’s mom was becoming exhausted. Danielle’s behavior was starting to become overwhelming for all of us. The teamwork helped us all maintain our sanity. Days of little to no sleep were having a more dramatic impact on our volunteers. I completely understood that some of them needed to take some time away. However, I wasn’t expecting what happened next.
Several women commented on my endurance through everything we had gone through. They told me how impressed they were that I was able to handle this situation for so long. After months of going through hell, it was nice to have a little validation that we really were going through hell. This was the first time I felt appreciated for everything that I had done for Danielle. I’ll admit it felt unbelievably amazing. Not once had someone recognized me for all the hard work I had done for my amazing wife.
Amazing was something that everyone present with Danielle felt. There could be amazing sadness or amazing joy, but either way is extraordinary. Danielle had truly manifested the people and tools that she needed to make a successful transition from this world to the other. She brought in people that at perfect times provided tools for growth. Which still blows my mind when I think about how Grace showed up in our lives. Amazing that we met the day her mother was diagnosed with Cancer. I had no idea the amount of learning that I would gain from observing her.
It was Grace’s demeanor that I tried every day to emulate. Next to Danielle, she would be my greatest teacher, without even knowing she was teaching me. As much as I learned from her, I feel she learned so much from Danielle. There were so many insights Danielle shared that I felt were going to help Grace with caring for her mother.
Grace even put off seeing her mother because of a promise to Danielle. Grace stayed several weeks longer than she was expecting because she felt it necessary to keep showing Danielle support. This selfless act of support did not go unnoticed by Danielle, and her love and compassion towards this almost stranger grew to new heights. Danielle truly loved Grace for the person that she was, and it was her honor to share with Grace a bit of wisdom. This wisdom was to support her mother fully even if she doesn’t support her mother’s plan of treatment.
We had faced the opposite problem with Danielle’s family, and she didn’t want to see the same problem happen between her and her mother. I feel the universe rewards us sometimes for doing things for others. I think my wife was a big gift in that aspect. Grace had already been the greatest gift to manifest at the end of Danielle’s life. Which is why what happened next wasn’t a complete surprise.
Grace came over that day as my relief, which after another night of not sleeping was necessary. Surprisingly I wasn’t particularly tired at this point and decided to read some comics to get my mind off things. I also was getting some needed nutrition which usually involved a bag of popcorn and a bowl of cereal. Danielle wasn’t crying out for my return, which is one reason I loved when Grace visited. They had a special connection that would forever be sealed in history.
After only thirty minutes, Grace asked me to come into the room. There was a tone in her voice that expressed a sense of urgency. I could tell that she was concerned, and she commented that Danielle’s breathing was starting to change. I observed the change, noting that her breathing was becoming slower and shallower. We both knew what that meant.
I knelt on one side of Danielle, while Grace knelt on the other. I am still grateful that it was Grace that was present with us as Danielle and I were facing this moment. I couldn’t help but cry, and it was clear that I was saying my final goodbyes to my wife. As I looked into her eyes, I just reminded her again, and again, “It is okay to go.” I also told her she was loved, and there is a beautiful place waiting for her. It was a miracle to see her acknowledge me at that moment and almost give her goodbye too.
Grace and I sat there for what felt like just a moment now, yet it felt almost timeless. We sat there for possibly an hour, but I can’t be sure. We remembered she asked us to log the time of her death. Danielle had asked because she wanted someone to do the star chart on it. It still is a grand event that we could be present for this star child as she returned to the Stars from which we all came. Breath after breath I just waited with her.
The breaths became slower and longer in between, and it didn’t look like she was suffering at all. Although, I could see a fear in her eyes that slowly faded as she continued to gasp for air. I then witnessed acceptance as she allowed herself to fade with her last breaths. It seemed like an eternity between her breaths as they continued to slow. The final breath being a surprise to both Grace and I as we weren’t expecting another. I could feel her presence in the room even after her final breath, it was sad and beautiful all at the same time. The moment we shared was indescribable.
We didn’t wait long to let the rest of the group know. They all arrived promptly, and I asked if we could, according to Grace, let Danielle stay for six hours before we move her. It was supposed to help the spirit let go of the body during that time. It also gave us all a space to mourn together. We were all relieved to have helped Danielle through her ordeal. I had spent so much time being a caretaker it was strange to have it all stop. It was very emotional, and as much as I wanted to escape the outside world, we had to let the world know.
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