My Long Island Experience
Recently my wife Cheri and I received a visit from one of our dearest friends, Patty Furino. Patty is an interfaith minister from Long Island, who walks a sacred path and always embraces the highest level of thought. She also has strong connections to "My wise friends on the other side." I have been witness to her unique gifts, since November 11, 2010. I traveled to Long Island to attend a program titled: "Embrace The Power of Change." Following that program, change truly embraced me for the remainder of the weekend. During my stay in Patty's home, she was a conduit for messages from my 18-year-old daughter Jeannine, who died in March of 2003. I had always felt that Jeannine communicated her presence to me in a variety of ways, but that weekend with Patty inspired a whole other level of spiritual growth. As a result, I have embraced a peaceful perspective in spite of Jeannine's death, which has enabled me to discover the depth of the pure love based relationship that I share with her.
A Repressed Past
Patty and I were sitting at the kitchen table on Saturday, November 22, 2014. My wife Cheri had left for work and we were figuring out what we were going to do for the rest of the day. Patty suggested that we take a drive to the neighborhood where I was raised. I hadn't visited my neighborhood in a long time. I moved out in 1982, and when my mother Sadie and my Aunt Rose moved several years later, I never went back. The homes on my street and in the surrounding area became increasingly dilapidated; crime increased significantly. In my mind, there was nothing left to return to or to revisit. I repressed that part of my life completely.
A Startling Discovery
When I returned, the dilapidation that I had left behind was evident; that was no surprise to me. What did surprise and startle me was that two of my childhood homes were demolished. I lived in those homes first with my mother and then with my mother, maternal grandmother, Bridgett and my Aunt Rose. My childhood history was contained in those homes; their walls could speak to me no more of the teachings and traditions that they witnessed.
Going to Church
I felt the urge to take Patty to a church I frequented as a child and during my teenage years. St Louis Gonzaga Church was where my mother and the rest of my extended family worshiped. I was also a member of the Catholic Youth Organization and developed some great friendships and memories. After I sat down, I looked up at the choir loft and experienced an immediate surge of sadness and regret. In fact, I told Patty that I felt I was going to "lose it." Looking at that loft brought back memories of my Aunt Rose, differently abled due to a childhood scarlet fever that diminished her mental capacity. My Aunt Rose sang in the church choir every Sunday. My sadness and regret stemmed from the way that I treated her when I was younger. I was utterly rude and dismissive because I saw her as a burden to my mother, who willingly took care of her. Regardless of how I treated her; she demonstrated nothing but unconditional love to my wife, my children and me. In that moment, all I could think of was to ask my Aunt Rose for forgiveness.
Mom and Aunt Rose-1987
A Crow for my Candle
Before we left church, I lit a candle and gave thanks for the teachings that were revealed to me as a result of my visit and thanked my Aunt Rose and the rest of my ancestors who predeceased me for their presence in my life. After I lit the candle, Patty suggested that I do some Reiki on it. (I recently completed the course requirements for all three levels of Reiki). I did, while continuing my prayer and reflection. When I was done, Patty animatedly asked me "Did you see that?" I told her that I didn't see anything. She informed me that while I was praying over the candle that a single crow was gliding on the wind overhead. Crow always reminds me in those moments, that the past is truly my teacher.
When we returned to my house, Patty and I looked at photos of me as a child and of my mother and extended family. Here is what I further discovered:
•Every life has value. Patty's observation was that my Aunt Rose taught me about unconditional love and that she knew I was troubled. I have since learned about the importance of love and service as keys towards finding peace and clarity after the death of my daughter Jeannine. My visit to my childhood neighborhood reinforced that my Aunt Rose was one of my greatest teachers about the impact of unconditional love on others and ourselves.
•Memories never fade. Though two of my childhood homes were destroyed, the pictures that I looked at were full of memories of life there. Those memories will forever keep the images of my childhood homes alive. As Jeannine has become forever a part of me, where I lived will forever be a part of me. Though the body dies, the soul lives on.
•He who forgets will be destined to remember. As we embrace walking in awareness as a means to discover higher levels of thinking, memories of our past are part of the equation. Remembering our past can be painful, but choosing to forget even more so.