Every once in a while, a client asks a question that makes me look back at my life of listening to the souls and brings me to such an incredible place of understanding of not only bereavement but of the very essence of faith and hope.
I was asked a rather simple question: “What were the most beautiful words you’ve ever heard from the souls?” I had to think about it — but the answer was spoken to me before I could even think of it. It rang in my head and caused me to go back through nearly 50 years of communication like an epic movie in the space of a few seconds. I realized the woman was still in front of me and waiting for an answer, so I told her, “They’re the three most simple words ever spoken.”
No, not those words. “I love you” is far too easy. These three simple words are so profound and important to the souls that they have the power to change everything we thought about the loss of our loved ones and our need to find hope. I thought back to the hundreds and perhaps thousands of times they have been said by the souls, and how poignant and beautiful they really are. The words are these:
“I was there.”
“I was there when you got the awful call. I was there when the police came to the door grim-faced, and you felt as if all the air was punched out of you. I was there beside the wreck, and I was there when you found me. I was there when you were asked my name and age, and for a minute you couldn’t even think of my age. I was there when you had to identify me and I was there when you tried not to scream when they warned you to brace yourself.”
“I was there when the seconds felt like hours, and I was there when people babbled incoherently about “God’s will.” I was there when you picked my favorite suit and I was there when you pulled out my prom dress. I was there when the funeral director knew he’d lost your attention, and I was there when the pastor tried to gather information for a eulogy. I was there when you couldn’t find the will to close my casket, and I was there when you had to say goodbye to my physical body.”
“I was there when everyone was gone, and the house was so still. I was there when you watched the clock all night, and I was there when you saw the sunrise and wondered how you could continue living. I was there when nothing and nobody mattered to you anymore, and I was there when you bargained with God for just a small sign from me. I was there when you started finding your faith again, and I was there when you made the decision to continue living for me.”
“I was there the first time you laughed in spite of yourself. I was there when you went back to work, saw a movie, and tended to the garden. I was there when you started reaching out to others in the same boat, and I was there when you wished me a happy birthday, a happy anniversary, or even a happy Tuesday. I was even there the day you first realized you found hope and the first time you could feel my hand on your heart.”
“I was there when you planted the tree, when you created the scholarship, and when you donated your time and money in my name. I was there when you pulled another mother, father, husband, wife, brother, sister, or grandparent aside to tell them you understand and it will be ok in time. I was there when you found a way to continue my work, and I was there when you honored me with your service to others. I was there when you ran the marathon, when you graduated when you married, and when you retired. No milestone went unnoticed by me because whether you knew it or not, I was there.”
“I’ll be there when it’s time for the portal to open for you, and I’ll be there when your body takes its last breath. I’ll be there to be the first person to smile at you, and I’ll be there to explain that, at long last, your journey is done. I’ll be there when you say goodbye to the earth, and I’ll be there to teach you how to be there for those you’ll leave behind. I’ll be there because I’ve been there.”
As I’ve said many times over the years, we are loved well beyond our comprehension, and we are never alone on earth when we have a loved one in the hereafter. The souls have always been there for us, and until the day we see them again in a world of joy, they will always be there.