I’ll call her Cherry. Mutual friends will understand why.
And yes, the manner in which I discovered the news was – when you come to think about it – an inevitable product of the world we live in.
Cherry and I began teaching at the same school on the same day. We also, by some odd quirk of fate, gratefully accepted a voluntary redundancy package some seventeen years later and left on the same day too.
It was a small school, with a small staff, so we saw plenty of each other and got along just fine. The word ‘colleague’ sounds rather harsh and impersonal but I can’t say we were ever friends as such. I knew her kids by sight and a little about her life, and she knew much the same about me. I knew nothing of her dreams and fears, her aspirations and beliefs, as colleagues usually don’t.
When we left work I moved out of the area. She stayed. Unsurprisingly we lost touch. That was until, quite out of the blue, I received a Facebook friend request from her.
‘How nice,’ I thought and happily accepted.
So for the last few years, Cherry and I have ‘met’ via Facebook. I’ve ‘liked’ many of her posts with a trite little thumbs up symbol. She’s ‘liked’ many of mine in the same way. I noticed, but never spoke about, the fact that we had far more interests and ideas in common than I’d ever realised when we used to see one another every day.
Around New Year, Cherry stopped liking my posts. She also stopped adding her own quirky interesting pictures and videos. I have to confess I barely noticed.
And then, a couple of days ago, I flicked Facebook on and noticed a red 1 next to the little speech bubble icon. Someone had messaged me.
With hardly a thought, I opened the message. The name of the sender was unfamiliar at first, despite the ‘Hi Jan’ greeting. As I read on, I discovered that it was Cherry’s daughter. She apologised profusely for informing me via Facebook, but it was the only contact she had – and she wanted me to know that Cherry had died the day before.
I had no idea of the circumstances, and it certainly wasn’t appropriate to send back a string of questions. I sent a short message of thanks to the daughter and sympathy to the family and switched off.
Every day we receive news of cyber deaths; personalities we never met but felt we knew have photos and obituaries posted up on social media and we react according to the degree of vicarious attachment we felt to those people. This was my first personal cyber death announcement and it shocked me to the core.
You see I had no context for Cherry to be dead in. Accident? Illness? Quick or lingering? Painless or agonising? I couldn’t know. Cherry had simply ceased to be a human being and THAT was the thought that stayed with me.
For the next two days, she was seldom out of my thoughts. I’m not afraid of death. I have complete and total belief in the eternal, undying nature of our greater selves and the transitory nature of incarnation – a game we play for a few 3D decades to gain experience, interact physically with others, bring Love to our corporeal existence and expand the Cosmos. I’m free of any fear of divine retribution or judgement. I knew that Cherry, in terms of her own essence, was still very much alive and aware.
What was affecting me – in a way I would never have expected – was the thought that as I went about my everyday, mundane tasks, she was not. I cleaned my teeth. She didn’t. I went shopping. She didn’t. I relaxed with a cup of tea. She didn’t. All of these taken-for-granted earthly experiences had been Cherry’s to share. Now they weren’t. I’ve had many encounters with death, but none has affected me this way.
It was still bothering me last night, when I was fortunate enough to join a meditation channelled by a friend in the US via Skype. Before the main meditation took place, her Guides turned to me and asked whether I had anything troubling me. Rumbled. So I told my little story and explained that I couldn’t understand why this was bothering me so deeply.
“Let’s breathe together while we find your answer,” they said, through my friend’s voice.
To my surprise and delight, they made contact with Cherry. She wanted me to know she was fine. But I already knew that. Then they explained that although we’d not had a close relationship, there was still a connection.
“When you dream or leave your body in other ways,” they said, “you make contracts and agreements with others. You and this colleague made an agreement that when she died, she would use her death to show you what an amazing, wonderful, precious experience life on this planet is.”
What a gift that was.
Thank you, Cherry. I hope very much that – unknown to my conscious self, perhaps – I was at some time able to give sudden, special insights to you in return.
I wish you well on your cosmic journey from here on and congratulate you on completing another round of corporeal experience. I’ll welcome that transition when it comes to me, but meanwhile – thanks to your gift – I’ll value these everyday physical experiences and feel profound gratitude for being human.