Dying to Be Me
In Loving Memory of Susan LaLonde:
I write out this story in honour of you, the battles you've fought, the demons that tormented you, the healing powers of your unconditional love and the lessons I was so blessed to have received from being present in your last days. I am grateful for the glimpse of the Divine through our discussions and prayers. I owe you my life, truly and fully. Rest In Peace beautiful angel you need not fight anymore in the kingdom of heaven, it's time to celebrate with dancing and singing.
Until I am able to join you,
Sincerely with love;
This story holds many stepping stones guiding me directly to this monumental moment. I was given insight, books, words from above and protection through the Holy Spirit in order to reach you days before Gods will brought you home to him.
Stepping Stone #1: I'll begin turning over the first pivotal pebble that made this journey possible. During the initial drastic shutdowns of Covid I found myself limited on work, in need of a new home and in desperation of change to revive my current relationship. I had recently been studying along side my family members via Zoom the bible study 'Experiencing God; Knowing and DOING the will of God', this was a particularly heavy book. Not only did it emphasis building a personal relationship with God but it highlighted bringing in action. So as the world I had built began to crumble under Covids weight I found myself helpless on the laundry room floor crying out in despair 'Oh God what I am I going to do?' I had little experience using the living word of the Bible to over see my current circumstances but the voice in my ear encouraged me to open the pages;
'If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up to me, you will find it.' -Matthew 10:39
With that nugget of revelation I was left comforted, confused but opened hearted that I would be lead in the proper direction. For days to follow the mountains would not leave my mind; marketing on food items, semi trucks, store names, references in movies, the view of the mountains across the ocean I'd visit each morning kept pulling my spirit towards them. During the Christmas holidays my fiancé, Moose (a majestic giant alaskan malamute) and I took a trip to Warfield to visit my brother and his family. The heart warming of a house full of children, worship music, all while being encompassed by snow covered trees and hills highlighted the magic that resides in the Kootaneys. Actively looking for places to live I locked down our new home the moment we drove off the ferry on our return trip to Vancouver Island. Guess what street our new living quarters were on? Mountain Road!... and Lookout Street but I'll save that realization for my next tale. The next month became a blur of action, goodbyes, selling our belongings and mentally preparing for the chapter ahead. With a very full Jeep Cherokee, a king sized mattress strapped to the top, a family of 3 and a prayer we were off.
Stepping Stone #2: The healing power of family.
On Oct 22 2021 we all received news of your stage 4 cancer diagnosis, from back pain to this the whirlwind of the confirmed reality took your family by storm. You had been flown to the hospital in Edmonton, AB from Hay River, NWT to be given optimal care and testing. Your son frantically ran to you for an opportunity to be near, to pour the unconditional love you had so beautifully ingrained into him for a glimpse of eliminating an ounce of pain from your being. A week prior to the news you and I had begun to pray over the phone and cling to the beautiful words of the Bible to quench the hunger your spirit desperately longed for. In these few weeks I prayed with my family, with your baby and with you to "fight the demons out"(your words). After being embraced by your angel, the power of the Spirit igniting a fire inside you to live! The shift was undeniable to the hospital staff, your family and friends, hope seemed to be rising.
"The human spirit is more powerful than any drug, and that is what needs to be nourished with work, play, friendship and family. These are the things that matter. -Robin Williams
Shortly after a plane was available to bring you home, we began planning our visit to the Northwest Territories to spend as much time as you needed with us starting early December. The vision of having your precious family home for Chirstmas inspired your body to stand up and show up. Unfortunately after your return trip home your health began to plummet drastically within just 3 days, it felt as though your angel wings had become clipped once and for all.
Stepping Stone #3: I love to walk, I'd been walking to the gym, work, the grocery store for as long as I can remember (this also played into me procrastinating getting my full license until this year I'm 34). I was blessed with being part of reintroducing a malamute to snow on a daily bases, the joy I got to witness was enough to make a heart explode. Along my daily walks I was connected to a beautiful spirit named Rosemary. Over a few months of crossing paths I was invited for tea and lessons in paper folding. Rosemary had over two decade of experience sharing the art of paper folding with psychiatric patients as a way of cognitive and behavioural therapy, she shared how beautiful it has been to witness highly labeled mentally ill patients having exceptional focus and talent when being given a project. Over our tea times I was humbled to listen to an in-depth tale of her intimate love, the story back to each other and the heartbreak while witnessing his suffering through cancer.
She leant me this book 'Dying to Be Me: My Journey From Cancer, To Near Death, To True Healing' I was brought to tears the moment I opened the cover page, inside she had written a personal message of hope to her husband. The known reality of the outcome sunk to my stomach. The personal experience shared by the author who had floated outside her body and witnessed that her own playing small manifested as stage 4 cancer placed critical perspective on how important it is to set boundaries around your own heart.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do. -Proverbs 4:23
Stepping Stone #4: Pray without ceasing. A week before the news that we needed to abruptly travel to you I had been walking Moose amidst the snow and was delivered a very clear message of insight that I needed to learn some scriptures. I'd never trained my mind to be good at memorization but I was up for the challenge. This was the verse that was chosen;
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
3 days after you had returned home from Edmonton the demons we believed to be fleeing, clung onto you with a vengeance. You confided in your son the severity of needing us to come now all while attempting to mask the true extent of your suffering.. After the call decoding what you said and what you really needed took your son by an internal wave.
'We need to go to Hay River now!'
My inner demon of control attempted to slither in, 'Are you sure? Wouldn't it make more sense to get some sleep and go first thing in the morning?'
'We need to go NOW!'
I threw a small passive aggressive tantrum by muttering and slamming a dish into the sink. I'm grateful the Spirit of Knowing was stronger in him then the defiance that was in me.
So as quickly as I could I washed the dishes, packed our bags and off to North West Territories we went. It was 24 hours of straight driving, the focus behind the wheel at getting to his beloved mother was poetic, the urgency, the flood of emotions, all I could feel was the heart break. All I could manage to do was repeat the verse prayed without ceasing while intermediately reading that gifted book. I've never been more terrified on a drive in my life, our first run in was with a wide eyed raccoon (RIP), next was a perfect opening only orchestrated by divine power between two elk, a speeding ticket at 3am, a blizzard that left 4 hours of driving in endless white dust, inches from crashing into a white semi truck that magically appeared out of the blankets of snow and a detour off the highway into a snow bank from a reckless cargo truck passing us (the only slightly visible signs demanded no passing). Thigh deep in snow, 2 hours away from our destination tragically digging around the tires we felt helpless, defeated and emotional. All I could think to do was yell out towards the heavens begging for Gods mercy to fall upon us. Minutes later, Bill the Angel a semi truck driver from Castelgar, BC (close to our home) stopped to help us out of our current circumstance. We arrived at the Hay River Hospital on the evening of Nov 22, 2021. I let your joy have some time with you as I chaperoned our Malamute become glee full, prancing through the ever falling snow.
Entering the hospital during Covid was a miracle in and of itself, you allowed me to be part of the list of beloveds, I was honoured to be given reserved spot in such a vulnerable space. I see now how much you needed me to be in there, a place for you to see spirit that does live within yourself. I wasn't sure how to navigate myself in such foreign territory, as I entered your room I became completely fixated on you. Seeing you in this state opened up the reality of the ferocious war you had been facing the grater years of your life. Your eyes met mine and you said with such aww; 'You're so beautiful.' These words left me speechless, in these final days you felt the need to tell me this. Bless you Susan.
I stayed for hours listening to the bantering and buzzing of your friends and family. Learning the loving impression you'd made on these people filled my heart, you filled lots of hearts with your tenderness. The out pour of love you provided to everyone around you made the words in the book I was given more apparent. You neglected to build that deep love relationship with yourself and those who had no end to their taking began to take from your life source. Dying to be you!
The early hours of the morning came around and a few of us decided to get some sleep while your children stayed by your side. Just as I was about to kiss your cheek and leave your bed side for the evening you gripped my arm with force, locked my eyes in yours and pushed out under the shake of your voice 'You're my inspiration!' My heart sank to my gut, I didn't know what you meant by these words but I knew you meant them! It's a fascinating phenomenon to witness someone on their last days, the urgency to say what you need to say and importance of being close to your immediate family/community.
Coming back to the hospital the next morning, receiving updates from your children it was plain to see you fighting to stay present for hopes of absorbing every minute possible with them near. The heart monitor, your chest rising and calpsing, the sound of your breath became the centre of the rooms attention. I sat at your feet, Bible open, praying without ceasing, speaking Gods words of restoration and life over you with authority and conviction I demanded you to wake up, after hours of not speaking you opened your eyes looking for your precious son. Distraction from your right attempted to take the last pieces of you but the warrior inside your bones fought back, it was a miracle and a blessing to be seated directly at your toes during your final battle against the enemy.
With determination and endless love you reached for the man on your left spoke clear as day 'I love you so much Sean.'
Those were your final words.
This pure exposure to life and death made me realize how influenctial the company you choose to keep will ultimately dictate your health.
It's been just over a year to this day and I can see clearer and clearer the divine coincidences God had aligned in order for us to get to you the day before you stopped talking, 2 days before you left this earth to a space you're worthy of. God brought Sean and I back together, then relocated us to the mainland so we could drive directly to you. I was given the words from God to safely arrive in the North West Territories over the most terrifying weather conditions I'd ever experienced, I was provided a book that let me see you as an angel without developed boundaries, God brought you to life to share your dying truth to your precious son.
I promised you I'd love your son until it's our time to come home, I learnt from your lesson and I see what your words meant. You found inspiration in me through my love for Christ, myself and my calling to LIVE!
“When we find ourselves irritated, depressed, angry, or ill, we can be sure we have chosen the wrong goal and are responding to fear.” ― Gerald G. Jampolsky, Love Is Letting Go of Fear
And I was born to Be Brave!
P.S. I was given your poncho and I feel you speak to me often through it. Everyone of my adventures you so eagerly beg to be part of. We've bought our first car together, we've volunteered at camp, we drove to the amazing opening of Lake Louise, we've spoken life into the lost, we climbed the highest point on Vancouver Island, we camped across the United States, we drove across two countries to arrive in Mexico, we've danced in the tropical rain, we laid on the frozen Slave Lake (heaven on earth only minutes from your house) and you've encouraged me to skinny dip... on more than a few occasions (you're so risky :P) blanketing me in your warmth as soon as I reach the shore. And your arms are wrapped around me know as I bring words to your final days. It's time for me to part with you for there's another life in need of your liberating love. Thank you for the encouragement to live, I don't think I could have gone this far without you.
Lyrics from your favourite song: The Rose
It's the heart, afraid of breaking That never learns to dance It's the dream, afraid of waking That never takes the chance It's the one who won't be taken Who cannot seem to give And the soul, afraid of dying
That never learns to live