Bridges to Heaven

True Stories of Loved Ones on the Other Side

Sue Frederick

St. Martin's Press

1
STORIES OF VISITATION
 
 
The veil between the realms is thinner than you think—thin and transparent. Close your eyes and feel it.…
THERE WAS NEVER A time when spirits didn’t speak to me, walk across my bedroom at night, or whisper in my ear. They speak to you as well. You’re just better able to dismiss it, more logically rooted in this physical world than I am—even though I’ve tried hard to ground myself in logical left-brain thinking.
Somewhere in my 1951 birthing, there was probably a vast undiscovered damage to my perfect brain—so big and precise, it nearly diminished my left mind and left me mostly connected to the heavenly realms.
From early on, there were radiant beings who spoke to me in the flower garden where my mother planted daisies—and departed saints who stood beside me every Sunday in church. It’s a blessing I was Catholic; the Virgin Mary was a constant presence in my life, one so real that I spoke to her out loud. I prayed the rosary daily from the time I learned how.
The mysterious city of New Orleans made my gifts seem almost normal. My intuitive Creole mother, descended from a long line of psychic women, was strong enough to see what I needed and help me get firmly rooted here. She spent her afternoons teaching me letters, sounding out the words precisely and logically until I could develop my left brain and read the pages. I was only three years old. It saved me. She believed I was gifted.
When I grew older and would hear what someone was going to say before they said it, time fell backwards and I withdrew. I’m sure I looked disturbed, troubled. I didn’t understand the laughter and why they couldn’t hear the whispers of those who stood around us. But I didn’t like crazy. I was way too strong for that.
So I hit the dirt. Sprang into survival mode. I learned to think logically—to follow from A to B, to ignore the visions and dreams. I didn’t want to disappoint my kind and logical father. I needed a paycheck. And when the whispers began to fade, I found myself an early career at the age of twenty, teaching children to read and organize their left brains because that was what I needed. I became a Montessori preschool teacher to heal myself.
If I’d only known all along I was here to explain the world as I saw it—and not try to fit in or become like everyone else—I could have gotten my work done sooner. I’ve taken quite a while to get this message to you, to help you realize the veil is thin and that you came here on purpose with a mission. Yet this is the one thing I’ve always been sure of, and the gift I came to share.
MY FATHER …
It’s May 1997. My dad, diagnosed with lung cancer four weeks earlier, has been in a coma for days, struggling for breath. My family takes turns caring for him at the hospital. I want to stay at his side today because I sense he’s leaving. Yet it’s my turn to babysit his five grandchildren—including my three-year-old daughter.
I kiss my dad on the forehead, tell him I love him and will see him soon. Back at Grandmother’s house, I put the kids down to nap. Finally they sleep. I’m free to meditate, as I’ve done every day for thirty years.
Sitting on the couch, I close my eyes and repeat a mantra—an ancient Sanskrit sacred sound. Right away, my mind settles down. Instantly, my father is vividly in front of me, laughing and being goofy. He’s young and healthy. I’m delighted to see him happy and animated. This image is so real and tangible that I smile and say playfully, “Dad, what are you doing here?”
“Dad!” I repeat out loud, opening my eyes, realizing that I’ve just clearly seen my dad who’s in a hospital miles away—dying. I pick up the phone to call the hospital room. My brother answers.
“Jim, what’s happening? I just saw Dad.”
“He’s had a heart attack. We’re trying to stop the CPR efforts. It’s chaos.”
“I was meditating and he appeared in front of me—alive and happy.”
“That’s amazing, Sue. You’re psychic,” he says sweetly but sarcastically. “Now, put the kids back in the car and come down here.”
By the time I reach the hospital with my entourage of cranky toddlers, Dad’s body is laid out peacefully on the hospital bed and my family is gathered around, crying. I’m upset that I wasn’t with him.
“He’s gone,” Jim says as I enter. “But you were with him more than we were. It was chaos here when it happened. You saw him as soon as he crossed over.”
I’m still upset that I wasn’t at his side to help him. But eventually I realize that Dad’s spirit wasn’t caught up in the crazy chaos going on in the hospital room. He was with me, and he was clearly happy and free! I’m grateful that I was sitting in meditation and able to see him so clearly.
Days later, as the family gathers in the living room to discuss funeral arrangements, my three-year-old daughter runs into the room and stops suddenly. “Why is everyone crying?” she asks, looking around at our sad faces.
“Because Grandpa died and we miss him,” says my brother Tom.
“I just saw him fly past the window and he looked happy,” she says with absolute innocence—looking at us, confused, as if we’ve got it wrong.
My brother kneels in front of her and says gently, “Tell me what you saw, Sarah.”
She describes my father looking young and happy—flying past the window and waving to her. It makes us all smile to imagine it. We believe her. It helps us.
ANOTHER STORY …
It’s been a day that I’ll have forever etched into my soul—July 13, 1980—the day my husband died. After his yearlong battle with colon cancer, Paul has slipped gracefully from his body, through my arms, and out to soar in the summer rain of a Colorado afternoon.
After weeks of exhausting medical traumas, I’ve come home from the hospital to sleep in our bed, which now lives in the center of the living room. This bed is where we first shared love and dreams of the future—and finally morphine drips and nasogastric canisters that marked the end of Paul’s life. At age thirty-five, he’s gone.
His death has given me a gift of unquestionable awareness that we’re souls on a journey and that life continues beyond the physical realms. But still he’s gone. I’m widowed and alone at age twenty-nine. I already miss him.
Exhausted, I fall asleep in our bed and soon become aware that Paul is sleeping beside me. Of course he’s here. He’s my husband and I can feel his warm fuzzy legs wrapped around mine. I feel him embracing me tightly and feel his breath on my hair. I can’t remember where he’s been—but he’s home now.
After a while, a man dressed in white stands beside the bed. I think he must be a nurse. His long arm stretches over me to tap Paul. Slowly I realize he isn’t wearing white and he isn’t a nurse. He’s emanating light. And he isn’t human—but something else. I’m not sure what. As he reaches over me, Paul suddenly vanishes from beside me.
I open my eyes to see that it’s 2 A.M., no one sleeps beside me, and no one stands beside the bed, dressed in white. I feel the unmistakable presence of a divine being. I realize Paul was here and a higher being came to move him on. His brief visit is over and his spirit guide is helping him move to the higher realms.
For several more nights, I’m awakened suddenly out of deep sleep—sensing a presence in the room. When I open my eyes, the clock reads the same time: 2 A.M. His visit is over.
A CLIENT’S DEPARTED MOTHER SENDS A MESSAGE
It’s 2011 and my eyes are closed in meditation as I prepare to work with a client by phone. I can hear a persistent female voice in my ear saying: “I’m watching over my girls, having tea with them. Having tea with my girls…”
My client’s name is Marya and she’s thirty-four years old. During the phone session, I learn she’s struggling with depression and can’t get her career headed in the right direction. She hates her job.
The other woman’s voice is still persistent in my ear. I describe the voice and the message to my client. “It’s my mother!” says Marya. “She died suddenly ten years ago in a car accident. I have one sister. We were ‘Mom’s girls.’ We had tea with her every day when we were little. When we were older, she’d invite us over for tea and conversation.”
I describe the persistent, almost obnoxious energy of this woman I heard speaking into my ear. “Yes, that’s my mom,” she says.
Her mother’s death marked a terrible turning point for Marya. She was twenty-four years old when it happened and never got over the sudden loss. It launched her into a major depression. “Why did my mom die so horribly? I needed her,” cries Marya. “When it happened, I decided the world was a dark place and I didn’t want to be here. Nothing made sense anymore.”
As we talk, a ray of sunlight shines through my office window onto the wall across from me. The sunlight, dappled by the moving leaves outside my window, creates a distinct shadow on the wall. It’s a perfect picture of a beautiful woman’s face. I describe this face to Marya. It’s her mom.
For the entire hour of our phone session, I stare at the perfect image of the woman’s face on the wall. The face has never appeared before or since in my office. My client’s mother was so determined that I give Marya a message that she manifested a distinct image of herself for me to see.
“Your mother is still with you, watching over you,” I tell Marya. “You have to live like you know she’s watching. Make her proud of you.”
By the end of our session, Marya’s voice is lighter. She agrees to take several baby steps toward doing her great work and fulfilling her soul’s mission.
HOW OUR DREAMS CAN HEAL US
Many times when I’ve been in pain, a departed loved one has come into my dreams to heal me. I first published this story about my friend Crissie in my book I See Your Soul Mate, and received so many e-mails from people telling me how the story helped them. I’m putting it into this book too, in hopes it inspires you to connect with someone you’ve lost.
I met my lifelong best girlfriend, Crissie, in second grade on the swing set of our Catholic elementary school playground. Her crazy brilliance and insane wit bonded us immediately. Our first conversation went something like this (although she was doing all the talking): “Don’t you think the word ‘nunnery’ is weird, like a cannery? Why would a girl choose to be canned … er … nunned? Do you think nuns all come out the same from a nunnery like peas from a cannery? What if Shakespeare said, ‘Get thee to a cannery!’” As she talked, she cracked herself up, bending over in peals of giggles that had me laughing uncontrollably along with her. I realized I had found a true friend—someone who thought outside the box. I didn’t always understand her, but I loved her instantly.
Years later, in seventh grade, the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. Crissie and I were the only ones in our Catholic elementary school to have our lives changed at that moment. We knew the Beatles meant more than wonderful music and that they were showing us a bigger, more exciting life that we both wanted. We promised each other that we’d get out of the South as soon as we graduated from high school and fulfill our huge dreams. She never let me forget that promise.
Her brilliance put her at the top of every class and got her accepted into Georgetown University in 1969 as one of a small group of the first women ever accepted to that prestigious college in Washington, D.C. When I told her I had been accepted into the University of Missouri to study journalism, she forever called it “University of Misery” and told me I should have “aimed for a coast.” (She was right! But I wasn’t as smart as she was, so I was grateful for the chance to attend University of Misery.)
Our friendship lasted long beyond my stint at Misery and hers at Georgetown. Her first true love had been a fellow student at Georgetown University named Paul Frederick, to whom she became engaged. Two months before the big Southern wedding her parents had happily planned, Paul Frederick dumped her. Crissie never truly got over it.
Later when I moved to Colorado and met a handsome mountaineer named Paul Frederick (not the same guy), I was immediately leery of him. Would he break my heart too? (Turns out he did.) Crissie was the first friend to come visit us and meet my new love, whose name was the same as that of the man who broke her heart. She liked him right away.
When my Paul Frederick was diagnosed with cancer, Crissie’s frequent phone calls helped me cope. With Crissie, every conversation was about exploring new ideas, asking tough questions, and searching for the truth—all done in a gleefully witty way. I adored her. She asked me the toughest questions anyone ever did. And she made me laugh harder than anyone I knew. She always told me I was a gifted writer and should “just write, dammit!”
Six months after Paul died, Crissie came to visit. She cheered me up and challenged me simultaneously. What was I doing with my life now? Was I moving forward? Was I writing? She prodded and poked as we drove to the mountains to ski. She seemed healthy, energetic, lonely as usual, but generally happy with her California graduate student lifestyle. (She was getting a PhD in botany.)
On her flight back home to California, she noticed bruises appearing on her body. By the time she landed in San Francisco, she was covered in bruises and rushed by ambulance to the hospital. Her stunning leukemia diagnosis so soon after Paul’s death was overwhelming. After this devastating news, I suffered several anxiety attacks where my throat would tighten up and I couldn’t swallow or eat. I felt nauseated most of the time.
Crissie’s mother moved to California to take care of her, and her father got her into the most advanced treatment of the time—a bone marrow transplant at Fred Hutchinson Hospital in Seattle. Surrounded by friends and family, she went through chemo and radiation treatments and nearly died during the torturous bone marrow transplant. I couldn’t understand why someone as bright, loving, and good as Crissie would have to go through such suffering—as horrible as Paul’s experience. In deep despair and grief, I sold my belongings and moved to Mexico to teach fitness at a resort. I needed healing and was dropping out of a world that made no sense anymore.
When Crissie was finally in remission, she moved back to California and resumed graduate school studies. But she was only thirty-one years old and had been through hell. She was in a deep spiritual crisis, wondering what the purpose of life was. I understood her pain.
We stayed in touch with letters and phone calls. She began getting her life going again and started to feel better. She yelled at me when I told her I was in love with a married (but separated) Mexican man named Emilio who ran the local dive shop. “Sue Ellen, you’ll only get your heart broken! You’re a writer, so you can use it in something, I guess … but really. Come back home and write, dammit!” I couldn’t go home yet. My peaceful life of snorkeling and diving every day with Emilio was a form of healing for me—even if I knew Emilio would never be my lifelong partner. I loved him anyway.
Crissie and I made a plan to see each other back on our childhood turf. Crissie flew to the Gulf Coast to visit her family at the same time I flew home to visit mine. Our dads both owned fishing boats and had beach houses. Crissie’s dad brought her over to the harbor near our beach house to spend time with us. My dad (who loved Crissie) took us fishing and boating. When we got bored with fishing, he dropped us off at a remote island to talk while he fished around the island.
Crissie and I walked and talked for hours along the sandy shore and crystal-clear water of our tiny remote island. We talked about her ongoing struggle with leukemia, her bone marrow transplant, her feelings about death, my grief over Paul, my attempts to end my ill-fated relationship with Emilio, and her heartbreaking belief that she would never find a soul mate or have children. She felt alone and unlovable. “What’s the hardest part?” I asked her. “Disappointing my dad,” she said as tears flowed. “He wants me to live so badly.…” I knew then that she was dying, no matter what the doctors said. I recognized the process of letting go that she was experiencing. It was the same conversation I’d had with Paul.
When my dad picked us up on the island, he took us back to the marina, where Crissie’s dad waited on his fishing boat. As our dads laughed and joked with each other, Crissie and I hugged one last time. She couldn’t look me in the eye as she turned away and stepped onto her dad’s boat. As their boat moved out of the harbor, Crissie and I waved. When she was out of view, I broke down in uncontrollable sobs. My dad asked gently, “Why are you so sad? She looks great. She’s going to make it.” Crying, I turned to him and said, “Dad, this is the last time I’ll ever see her. I know it.” Crissie returned to her home in California. I returned to Mexico. Three months later she was dead.
The night of her death, before I knew she had died, Crissie came to me in my dreams. We spent the entire night laughing and giggling together (the way she and I always did). When I woke up, my stomach muscles were actually sore from laughing so hard. I’ve never before or since experienced such physical sensations after a dream as I did from that night with Crissie.
That morning as I was making coffee and about to call the States and check in with Crissie, I got the phone call telling me she had died during the night. I realized she had visited me in my dreams to let me know she was fine and to tell me that death wasn’t the end of anything.
But Crissie wasn’t done teaching me yet. A year later, I was finally back living in the States, heartbroken over Emilio, and trying to get my life and career on track. My grief over the loss of Crissie, Paul, and Emilio was weighing me down with sadness and depression.
One night Crissie came to me in a dream and healed my heartbreak. In the dream, Crissie and I are standing on a white stone balcony overlooking an emerald green sea. It’s peaceful and extraordinarily beautiful, and I feel so content standing beside her. We’re talking as we always did but not using words. She’s standing a bit behind me and to my left as we look out over the water. I notice that her physical body is shimmering and seems to be more like dappled light than a fully formed physical presence. The form that I know as Crissie is changing. Her hand is on my back, rubbing it in circles while she talks to me. We’re discussing my heartbreak over Emilio.
She pulls out several handwritten letters on many different pieces of stationery that Emilio had written to his estranged wife (who lived in another city during our relationship). In the letters, Emilio is professing his undying love for his wife. Page after page contains stories of how well his diving business is going and how wonderful their life will be when he returns home to her. Crissie makes it clear to me that Emilio never really loved me, and I have to let him go and move on. As she shows me these letters, my pain and grief from all my losses well up in my chest. While she rubs my back, a loud wailing cry escapes me; the sound soars across the emerald sea in front of us. It’s powerful, ancient, and deep—louder than any sound I’ve ever made. As this pain pours out of me and flows across the water, Crissie lovingly rubs my back and encourages me to let it all go.
When I’ve finished crying, Crissie slowly disappears beside me. I wake up still hearing the sound of my painful wailing and feeling Crissie’s hand on my back. I cry most of the morning. But as the days go by, I realize that my grief has subsided. Finally I’m able to begin a journey of reinvention and spiritual exploration that pushes me toward the work I do today.


 
Copyright © 2013 by Sue Frederick