Emerging from a touching and provocative interview with author Ann Costello this week, I was struck by the beautiful way she described the multiple levels of her experience: losing a child is the thing most of us name when we mention the worst possible thing that could ever happen to us. As a tribute to her amazing Deidre, Ann wrote the compelling story of her daughter’s diagnosis and swift dramatic struggle with leukemia.
In this fast-moving story, Her Candle Burns at Both Ends Ann tells what happened to her hardy, happy Canadian family when Deidre was diagnosed and they embarked as a family team on the most horrific, intense ordeal of their lives. As a nurse, Ann describes the important medical points which helped her to understand what to expect and helped them make rapid decisions. She also tells of the riveting focus, the attention that is beyond words, thought or logic, we move into when someone we love is at risk. Finally, incredibly, Ann shares the tingling spiritual awareness that moved fluidly through the drama, the flights of intuition and knowing that came in the midst of crisis.
Ann told us today that as a nurse, she had always felt that death was a part of life. Now, she says, she has come to believe that there is no death. “Our loved ones do not really leave; we don’t lose them, they simply change.”
To speak with Ann, or to read her book, is to be assailed by her grounded compassion, her decades of nursing and seeing the best and the hardest life sends our way. This is not someone who has come to believe in Spirit to assuage her own pain or doubts, but someone whose conviction rings true like the clarity of a bell.
Ann believes that Deidre has helped her almost from the very time of her passing; helped her to grieve without drowning in it’s depths; helped her to connect with appropriate counselors and visionary mystics who gave her just what she needed; and helped her to write an unbelievably lovely and uplifting book. Ann said that Deidre has contacted her a number of times since her passing, and Ann now speaks to Deidre calmly in her mind, and enjoys the feeling of her presence.
When I asked what these contacts were like, what people might look for who are hoping for a communication from a loved one she had this to say:
“Notice the subtle things. When you turn the radio on, does the first song you hear have significance? Do birds or butterflies seem to get in your space or hover around for no apparent reason? Do you have the feeling of their presence sometimes, as if they were right in the room with you? Do you awaken from a dream, feeling that they have been with you? Have you noticed electrical interference, such as lights going on, flickering, or something bizarre happening with the computer?”
Ann suggested that we pray or speak to our loved ones, letting them know that we are aware they are around, and that we are willing to hear from them, willing to pay attention to their messages. Then, she said, “just let go.” The communication or message is more likely to come through when you are relaxed, doing housework, walking or enjoying yourself. Then something will happen or the thought will pop in. Somehow, their communication can be invited, but then we must let go of the invitation, relax and let them respond if they will.
Ann said she felt directed to a bookstore where she met a reliable and reputable local psychic counselor, who without prior information or questioning, offered her information about her daughter and about recent signs from Deidre in her home, including where to find Deidre’s diary and what kind of bookmark was in the pages of the diary.
We asked Ann for suggestions on how to find a good psychic or mystic and she replied: “Search for someone reputable who has been serving the community; someone who has helped friends, someone who works as a counselor rather than a fortune teller.”
It was clear that this wise, wonderful nurse, mother and author has her feet squarely under her, and that her heart and spirit are not bounded by time or space.
If you are like me, you avoid “sad” books and movies like the plague. But this book, even with its obvious sadness, was one of the most uplifting, life affirming books I’ve read in a very long time, and I still feel the effect of its encouraging and beautiful message.
If you were not able to catch Ann’s interview, it is well worth a listen, and you can find it here.