Grieving, Karma and Eternal Life

I have been putting off writing this article for a very long time, yet I know I need to write it.  Today I feel like maybe I can.

This is about grief and suicide.  It’s about life after death.  Most importantly it’s about love.

ascending staircase

The reason I have been absent from the blog for so long is that last year I found out that my dearest friend, Russell, committed suicide.  Even though he is my dearest friend, we had not spoken since December of 2012. I was in a bad place, once again experiencing major depression, chronic pain, and entering into a dark night of the soul.  He tried so hard to pull me out of it but his words hit me wrong, so I walked away.

At the end of that month, I moved in with my parents temporarily.  Being in a safe place and having some of life’s stress removed from my care, I began to get better.  Every now and then I would leave a voice mail or send an email to Russ, inviting him to contact me.

In January of 2015 I had a major shift in my spiritual belief system.  Being that he was an atheist I wanted to discuss my questions with him.  So again I left a message and sent an email.  About a month later it occurred to me that since he had not returned my calls for a couple of years maybe he really was done with me.  In the past we could go a couple of months without talking and then pick right back up.  But he wasnt responding this time.

So, I sent one more email telling him that I loved him, telling him that if he really was done with me then I understood but that I wanted him to know that he was important to me , that I knew he would be with me everywhere I go.

I hit send, turned off my light and settled in to sleep.  Only I couldn’t.  My mind was racing with thoughts of him, thoughts of trying to find out for sure if he really didn’t want anything to do with me.

We met in 1983, when I was 23 and he was 38.  For me it was love at first sight.  We dated for a few months but then he decided that my mindset was too serious and he wanted to just have fun. So he broke up with me.  I listened to what he had to say.  I left his apartment and went to my car to go home but I just sat there.  I really really didn’t want to lose him. I was hurting so much and I didn’t want to have it end this way, painfully.  So I got out of the car and went back to his door and knocked.  When he opened it I simply said ” I don’t want it to end this way”.  He opened the door wider, I went in and we talked.

Over time we became the best of friends and lovers.  We had hours long conversations on the phone.  We shared each other’s music and books, I could name every woman he dated and what he liked about them.  But underneath this cover of friendship, I was still in love with him.  I was waiting it out.  Sometimes it was painful and difficult to listen to him talk about other women. We often talked about what qualities existed in his idea of a perfect woman and relationship, a topic we called The One.  I always believed that  I was The One and prayed that one day he would recognize that.  Other days, we would argue and fight, I would drop to my knees and thank god that I had not married him!

We had our own magic.  There were times when we were so intimate that he could look in my eyes and read my mind.  I could call him on the phone when I was having a meltdown and he had the perfect words to pour over my head like warm honey, calming me and helping me change perspective.

I was there for him in his other dark times.  After he stopped working due to disability, a time came when he ran out of money.  He was close to suicide. He called me and asked me to find some way to help him, so I did.  I gathered information he needed to apply for early Social Security.  I obtained the funds from a church to pay his rent.  I found out all the community services available to help him financially and emotionally.  I made appointments for him, I handled his check book and saw that his bills were paid.  I made arrangements with his other friends to bring him food.  I coached him on how to handle people at his appointments in order to get the desired outcome.  This went on for months and it was very draining for me.  Sometimes he would take his frustrations out on me and I would want to step away from all of it but  he would beg me to stay.  I loved him deeply, so I stayed.  He trusted me more than anyone else in his life.

And we got through it.

Russell did things to help me in my life as well.  He possessed a wealth of information. Before the days of Google, if I needed to know something I could always get the best answer from him.  He never failed me.  He helped me practice my public speaking. He was always interested in my personal growth and tried to help.  He was always my cheerleader.

After the ordeal he went through he became more interested in what makes me tick.  He knew so much about me already but now it seemed that he wanted to understand the why of how I thought.

One day he thanked me for being who I was because, he said, I taught him more about how to love.  He perceived that  I demanded that he love me and express that love in a way that I could feel and relate to. He tried harder to do that.  Many times he nailed it.  No one else in my life could get into my thoughts and emotions, no one else could read my mind like he could. This was so important to me because due to a childhood trauma I had a hard time letting people into my life to love me.

That night in February I started searching for him online.  His various social accounts were all active but when I searched his address through the white pages I found that the listing for his address showed the previous resident was deceased.

“Ah”,  I thought,  he must have had that heart attack that was always just around the corner.  I had to know what happened to him.  Several more searches and I found the listing for him with the Medical Examiners office. It stated the cause of death was suicide in April of 2013.  Well, shit!  

I contacted the Medical Examiner’s  office and they gave me a copy of the autopsy.  Russ had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

The details are just too grisly.  I felt stunned.  I was so shocked; I felt my vision blur and my chest tighten.  I read it over and over because I simply could not believe it!  I remembered then that he had always told me this would be the way he died if he ever became seriously ill.  Well, that was a thought then, maybe he had been sick.

I called the manager of the apartments.  He told  me that Russ had been in a lot of pain.  When I talked to his sister-in-law she told me that a prescription for prostate medicine had arrived at the apartment after his death. Ok, one and one is two, Russ must have done this because of the pain he was in and a fear of cancer.  Contrary to popular opinion I respect a person’s right to end their life.  I only wish I could have been there for him and that his passing could have been gentler.

I also found out when I talked to her that they had not claimed his ashes.  Almost 2  years had gone by and they had not claimed him!  The thought of his remains sitting on a shelf in some warehouse was heartbreaking.  So I claimed him and brought him home.   He is in a box in  my closet now, and a part of him is in a silver heart I wear around my neck.

The shock wore off after a couple of weeks, I cried a lot.  I began grieving.  I talked to him, I wrote letters to him and I cried some more.

I had never lost someone this close to me and in this manner.  I didn’t know what to expect or how to process it.  I made a playlist of songs that reminded me of him, of us, or how I was feeling about him or how I had felt about him.  I played it constantly for a while and it gave me a release valve for my emotions.  I felt very guilty for not being there when he needed someone.  He didn’t leave a note. It was 3 months from the time I had stopped speaking to him in December 2012 to his death on April 1st, 2013.  I wondered what would have happened  if he had felt he could talk to me.  I wondered if I could have been a better friend.  Would it have made a difference?

I laid awake in bed many nights telling him I was sorry.

sleeping fairy1

One night, incredibly, he paid me a visit!  This was the first contact he made with me since I found out he was gone. ( I believe now that the urge to find him came from him).  He came to me in a dream.  In the dream we were in his apartment and his ex-wife was there too.  Russ was sleeping on the couch and she and I were cleaning his kitchen.  We talked about how sick he was.  Then I was in the living room and I was standing behind him as he sat on a footstool.  I had my arms around his neck, my face buried in his hair.  I could feel the silky softness of his hair and I could smell him.  I was telling him how much I loved him.  I was giving him reassuring words that everything was going to work out and that I was there for him.  I was telling him all the things I wished I could have said before he died.  When I stopped talking,  I was flooded with his love.

It came over me like a soft cloud, emotions cascading over and through me.  I felt his love for me! I felt his happiness at being healed, I felt him reassure me that he is ok now and he is truly happy.  He is safe and well.  Again and again he told me how much he loved me too, not with words but a sharing of the knowing of it.  The quality of this dream was such that I believe in my heart and mind  it was real, that he really came to me to tell me these things.  This wonderful man who could read my mind found a way to reach out from the spiritual plane to touch me again.

I found myself talking to him off an on, in my mind.  I invited him to visit me in my dreams.  Now and then I will hear a song on the radio that expresses something about our relationship so perfectly and I know that this is one way he speaks to me.

Several months later the most marvelous thing happened while I was driving down the highway.  I was thinking of Russell and then I heard him in my mind.  He told me that in this lifetime he had learned how to love me and in our relationship in this life I had learned to find my voice.  He told me that this was the reason we had both been here together in this life, after having been together in so many lifetimes and experiencing so many tragic relationship failures.  This time we had learned the lesson and our karma had been answered.  He promised me that in the next life we share together we would indeed have the relationship that we had longed for.

Believing in reincarnation, having discussed that belief with him many times, I felt nothing less than absolute joy at this revelation!

Karma is such an elusive idea, most of the time we just wonder and hope to figure out why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing.  We follow our hearts or expectations and hope for the  best.  I feel extremely fortunate to be allowed to know this one aspect of my karma, to know that I am successful in answering it!  What a gift indeed.

I know there are many reasons why I am living this life, at this time.  My relationship with Russell is a big reason, but not the only one.  There are other reasons that may be just as profound.  Knowing now what I know about my relationship with Russell informs me about the beauty of life.


The biggest insight of all is that life goes on.  Clearly there  is no heaven or hell,  life is eternal right now.  Life always has been, and always will be!  We don’t have to earn an eternal life, we don’t need to be saved from anything in order to enjoy a positive outcome after living a life here on earth.  As humans, we come from life, we live a life, we return to the source place of life, and again and again, because we are life and we have manifested ourselves in order to improve our experience.

I am grateful.  I am grateful to have known Russell in my life at this time in the cycle of my many lives.  I am grateful to have heard from Russell after he left this earth and grateful to know he is alive somewhere and that he wants to and does speak to me.  I am grateful to know without doubt that he loved me and still does.  I am grateful to know that we will be together, in fact that we are never really apart.

I am grateful for love!

Have you lost someone to suicide?  Have you been visited by a departed loved one?  What have you learned?  Please tell  me!




The Night We First Met


Lloyd Center Rink BW




When I was a senior in high school my best friend and I loved to go to the outdoor ice skating rink on the weekends.

That same year we both worked at a nursing home after school and on weekends. It happened that because of working I was a little behind on my homework, so one  Friday night in January while Saundra went to the rink, I stayed home to get caught up.

BEST FRIENDS MISSION. Around 8 PM the phone rang, Saundra calling me.  “Sue you have to come down to the center right now!”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“There’s a guy, he won’t leave me alone. I don’t want to be rude but I don’t want to be alone with him. You come on down and be with me, he’ll go away, hurry!”

She sounded like this was a real emergency, it must be something really bad for her to get me away from homework and drive all the way over to the rink.

I slammed the book shut, grabbed my coat and asked for the car keys.

“I thought you were doing homework, all done?” from mom.
“Not really, but Saundra thinks she is in trouble at Lloyd Center and she asked me to get down there right away, I think I really should go get her.”







Fifteen minutes later I am walking through the crowd of shoppers at Portland’s only outdoor mall, headed for the rink. I found Saundra without her skates leaning against the barrier wall next to the ice.

“Oh thank God you are here Sue! I really don’t know what to do, can you take me home?”
“What? Home? Now that I am here we might as well skate a little while, don’tcha think?”
“Shhh he is coming over here now!”


I turned to my left and looked… right into a sweater. Then my eyes traveled up, up, up the tallest guy I had ever met to lock into his bright sky blue eyes. Eyes that twinkled like he knew just what was going on!blue-eye

“Hi! I’m Susan!” I just blurted right out, I couldn’t stop myself! If she didn’t like him, I sure as hell did! My heart started popping and the chill from the ice felt colder and magical.

“Skip” he said. “You Saundra’s friend?”
“Yes, I am. She wants to go home but I’d rather skate awhile first.”

“You two go ahead and skate then, I’ll wait here for you Sue”

skates in hand

Off I went to get my skates, my hands shaking as I laced them up. Finally I ventured out. I loved to skate but I wasn’t any good at it.

Then, swoosh! He slid up next to me and took my arm and we skated around the rink. I held on tight as he whirled me around faster than I ever remember. He smelled good, he was so tall! His body was warm next to mine, I could feel the heat through my ski jacket.




That is how I met him, the one I had dreamed and hoped for. I had not been thinking about that when I drove over there. I was on a best friends mission.

MAGICAL MAGNETISM.  But when my eyes locked with his, everything else fled my mind. I didn’t think about my clothes or my makeup worn out from being on my face all day. I didn’t think about my hair or whether I had put on perfume.

It was his eyes. The cool twinkling sky blue that emitted a magic signal.

That was all it eye2


Your turn! How did you meet the one you fell for at first sight?

My Earrings Are Missing!


This is what happens when you are careless!

I have a pair of earrings that are one my favorite Christmas gifts.  My mother put them in my stocking approximately ten years ago, when I was in my forties.  They are 14k gold hoops with 3 stones on each.  A Citrine, a Peridot and an Amethyst.   These represent the birthstones for myself and my two grandmothers.  I do not have a  lot of real gold jewelry, this gift is very meaningful to me.  Even more so because I loved my grandmothers so very much and I feel them with me most of the time.  Wearing their stones with mine is a tribute to the connectedness we have.

I realize that I am careless by nature.  I don’t pick up after myself until I am ready for my place to be clean or until I need something that I can’t find.  I don’t make my bed.  It has gotten so bad at times that my cats would take up residence on top of a pile of clothes in my bedroom!

On this particular day I wanted to wear the earrings.  I do not remember what clothing I was wearing or whether I was going to work or to church or what day it was.

I opened my jewelry box to get the earrings… they were not there!

They were not on the makeup table.  On the nightstand? No.  I started a methodical search through the house.  Starting with the obvious places where I tend to put small things.  I looked on top of the microwave.  I checked my computer desk and the little dish I keep there for pennies and post-its and paperclips.  I checked the shelf by the washing machine.

I looked on the end tables in the living room.  There was a TV tray, one of the wooden kind, next to the recliner and I looked there.  I looked under every pile of everything that was piled up anywhere!

I could feel myself start to panic.  What would I tell my mother?   She always kept things from me when I was a child and young adult because she didn’t want me to lose them.  Once, a kid broke into my apartment and stole my small jewelry box which contained my wedding jewelry, a 14k gold charm bracelet and several pieces of sentimental costume jewelry.  So I understood her concern.  Now finally she trusted me enough to have given me these earrings that were precious and  valuable and I had actually lost them!

The only place I had not searched yet was the bathroom.  There was a small pile of silver jewelry next to the sink, I went through it carefully.  No gold earrings there.  I checked the drawer and the cupboards, no earrings there either.

Stepping back into the hallway, shaking with anxiety, I stopped and said a prayer.

“Dear God, I need your help.  I have lost the gold earrings my mother gave me.  I love these earrings and I obviously do not deserve them because I didn’t take better care and now I can’t find them.  Please help me, not for myself because I know I don’t deserve it, but for my mother, so that she won’t be hurt by my stupid carelessness.  Thank you Lord, In Jesus name, Amen”

I remember the exact words of that prayer all these years later because that is how important this was to me and how upset and disappointed I was feeling.

Without thinking about what I was doing now, I walked back to that wooden TV tray and started to reach for a pile of stuff.  My hand stopped midway there.  I could not believe my eyes!  There were my earrings!  In plain sight, not under a pile of anything else!

I had looked there already! I know I did because I had moved everything around.  I know without a doubt that those earrings were not there when I was looking for them!

I snatched them up and closed my hand around them, feeling the cool metal on the palm of my hand.  Closing my eyes, I lifted my face toward heaven and silently thanked God and thanked the Angel who was sent to put the earrings where I could find them.  This was one of the times in my life when I felt completely filled with gratitude and relief!

Happily I put them on and went about my day.  I said nothing about this to anyone for a long time.  Now and then when I am involved in a conversation about angels I share this story.  I really believe there are angels with us all the time, but they are just waiting to be asked to help us.  For me, this story proves it.

I am still a slob about housekeeping.  I work at it.  I have gotten rid of a lot of things that I wasn’t using and didn’t need to simplify my life somewhat.  I still have little piles here and there but I have more drawers and I generally know what is in them.  When I change purses I always make sure to get everything out of the purse I am putting away and at least put the small miscellaneous things by my computer if not in a drawer.  I am trying to be more diligent.

I have learned some things from this incident.  I have learned that God cares about what I care about.  I have learned that God honors humility.  I have learned that there is an angel with me willing to help at any time.  I have learned that material things have meaning not because of the worldly value, but because of the connections to loved ones represented in the gift.

In 2008 when my son decided to ask his girlfriend to marry him, I gathered up all of my gold jewelry so he could get credit against the cost of the engagement ring.  I gave him the diamond from my wedding set to use in the ring he was having custom made for his beloved.  I did not give him these earrings.

I never have misplaced those earrings again.  I know exactly where they are at any moment.  I have them under lock and key!


Readers:  Please leave comments! Any comments about how this story may have touched you, something you may have learned, something you disagree with, mistakes in my writing and spelling, anything at all because it helps be become a better writer!  Thank you.