Tuesday, August 18, 2009

After-life Connection

I stretched out on the green velvet couch, my legs resting in Carlyn’s lap. My statue of Quan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, hovered above us, on the fireplace mantle. Quan Yin was peaceful and wise—exactly what I strived to be—her stone arms out in front of her, her hands open wide.

The light from the candles illuminated Carlyn’s long, curly brown hair. Her green eyes connected with mine. We were present, no lies between us, no false pretense.

Carlyn spoke softly. “I keep seeing his face . . . Erik’s face.”

I stared at her, blankly, and said nothing.

“Over your shoulder, his eyes looking at me. Do you see him like that?”

“No,” I told her. “I haven’t seen him or felt him since just a couple of weeks after he died. Except for yesterday, at Tennessee Valley. That was the first time I have seen or felt him. I haven’t let myself. I’ve been mad at him.” I knew I had shut Erik out to prove that I could finally handle this life on my own.

“Mad at him for dying?”

“Well, more mad at him for leaving . . . because he promised he’d always be there for us.”

“I’m sure he understands.”

“Yesterday was the first day, in the longest time, that I could see him, as if he was walking right towards me, on the path, on the way to the beach. It’s like, when I think about feeling him, when I think about letting him in, I can’t breathe. Maybe my body’s reaction to watching him die.”

Carlyn wrapped her fingers around my ankle. “I think he wants me to tell you to open up to him.”

My skin tingled, then heated up to make tears.

I closed my eyes.

For two years I had been wanting to feel him, but it wasn’t until that moment, with Carlyn’s help, that I was able to let go—really let go and trust.

And something happened.

A submission. A willingness to feel. A transformation into a world that I had been avoiding, and now that I was experiencing it, I didn't want to leave.

I opened my watery eyes.

Carlyn leaned towards me, waiting for me to speak.

“I could feel his hair.” I moved my hand above my chest, as if I was playing the piano. “Right here. Like his head was lying on my chest. Like I was stroking his hair.”

“I saw him right there, too.” Carlyn’s freckled cheeks were now wet with tears, too. “Have you told him you’re mad at him?”

“Once. With a friend of mine who does chakra work. He had me tell Erik I was mad at him, and I was visualizing punching Erik in his coffin. It was really intense.”

Carlyn and I listened to the music from Erik’s funeral. Mariah Carey sang:

“I’d give my arm to have just one more night with you . . . I’d give my life to feel your body next to mine . . . Cause I can’t go on living in the memory of your song . . .”

Then I closed my eyes again. I wanted to feel him. I wanted to feel him more. I didn’t want to be afraid.

And there he was. Erik lay on top of me, our bodies pressed closely together, his face only inches from mine. I felt his shoulders. I felt his back. I felt his naked ass in my hands. Erik was on top of me. I could touch him—touch all of him. We were making love. And he looked at me, the penetrating way he used to when I wasn’t able to hold his gaze, but now, now I looked right back in his eyes and stayed with him. I let him see all of me, let him into my heart more than I ever had before.


  1. Wow, Hyla, that was intense! You have such a way of painting the picture with your words, that I feel as if I had witnessed this in person with you. Thank you for your honesty and openness...I always look forward to reading your blogs because you are so REAL... How cool that you had that amazing experience as well....do you want to go there again? Or was it a one time thing?
    Keep blogging!

  2. I cried a thousand tears when I read this entry. Your writing plunges us into the naked soul of Hyla. Hope is restored through your raw emotion and candid depiction of your courageous journey into the center of your broken heart. It is painfully delicious to read, I don’t want it to end and yet it has to be taken in small doses because the journey you take us on is a path that leads us home to our true selves. Your writing is spirit altering, thank you for your gift. I suspect every woman who reads this will be encouraged to live at a higher level and inspired by the bravery of a widow who refused to accept the verdict life handed down as the end of her story. Love, Steph

  3. Hyla - Thank you for sharing this. Every woman who is still in love with her husband is imagining the day when they will be feeling the same way. I just hope that day comes when I am old and gray and more open to the thought of it happening at all. My heart bleeds for the girl who had to pick up the pieces.

  4. Your writing is intense yet inviting. I love watching you grow as you write this blog. From a point where you probably weren't sure you could ever take another step to now being able to stare reality in the face. You are doing the only thing a good person & parent can do. Moving forward. There's a difference between moving forward & moving "on".
    Each of us are a very small part of a big picture. Erik's death has meaning. His passing is intended to make you & your beautiful children better human beings. And it's already happening....right before his very eyes.


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