Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Watching a Loved One Die

I knew the day would come. But now that it’s here I’m still devastated.

My dad sat at the slot machine, bewildered, pointing to the row of four fruits, asking what they meant. He tried to touch the machine next to him, thinking it would make his machine work. He didn’t know which buttons to push, so he just pushed all of them. “I don’t know what to do,” he said, plaintively, his eyes beseeching me for answers.

I’ve been taking my dad to the casino for the past eight years, every week since he lost his driver’s license. Tears stream as I write this, knowing I won’t be taking him back.
He won $335, the most he’s ever won since I’ve been taking him. I guess that’s a fitting way to go out. But he didn’t even realize he’d won big—he was just confused.

My dad’s dementia has been a huge forgiveness issue for me. It’s made the lessons of A Course in Miracles all the more pertinent, as I witness his body slowly waste away. It’s a general lesson in the non-importance of the body. Our society tries to keep these bodies alive at all costs, completely missing the point that the body is not the home of Spirit. I’ve been taught the body is a sacred miracle. To that I respond, “Have you been to a nursing home lately?”

A Course in Miracles tells us that we are mind, not bodies. It “re-minds” us to “remember always that you cannot be anywhere except in the Mind of God. When you forget this, you will despair and you will attack. (T-9.VIII.5) This has been of great comfort to me as I watch my dad, my hero, reduced to pooping his pants several times a day, no longer able to complete a coherent sentence, and unable to formulate a four-letter Scrabble word. He used to regularly use all seven tiles.

I let the tears flow, but still remind myself I’m seeing an illusion. When I think we are these bodies, I am attacking my true Identity. It’s all in the mind and I am projecting a world of loss and separation in which it appears that my beloved father can struggle and die. I am grateful that the Course tells me that a loving God did not create this scenario. Instead, I’m dreaming it and can change my mind with the Holy Spirit’s help.

One of my favorite lessons from the Workbook is # 284: I Can Elect to Change All Thoughts that Hurt. It reads, “Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth.”

As I repeat this over and over, Truth dawns in my awareness. I can never lose my dad. Minds are joined, bodies are not. The form of my dad’s body (and mine) has never been real, but the reflection of love is what’s real behind the form. Indeed, love is the only thing that’s real. He and I will always be connected, for he and I are one.

I write more about how we can wake up from the nightmare of loss in Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. You can read previews or order it from my website or from Amazon. www.lorricoburn.com

May your losses be transformed into love. Blessings, Lorri Coburn

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