Posts tagged conscious dying

Houston is Probably a Nice Place

I look back on that month in Houston where Kenny sought treatment for his cancer and it appears dark, scary, and full of anxiety and at the same time, filled with the miracles of perfect timing and spiritual assistance. Overall though, I would have liked to skip the actual day-to-day-ness and just learned the lessons. It was the toughest four weeks of my life, not to mention that Kenny was very obviously losing one body function after another daily. So while Houston is probably a nice place, not so much in my memory.

When we left the Gerson clinic in Tijuana at the end of November 2009, because the melanoma had infiltrated Kenny’s brain, it was recommended that we look into the Burzynski clinic in Houston. They are known for working with cancers in the brain. We applied, some sixty pages including all his lab reports since the original mole was diagnosed in 2000. He was accepted for a start date of February 9, 2010. We took all the steps to prepare for the trip–this last-ditch effort to halt the onslaught of the monster invading his body. It was going to be two weeks of out-patient care with overnight stay at a nearby hotel, and then back home to LA for follow-up treatment.

The day before we left, one of our dear friends who is a runner, dedicated a 5K run just that weekend to Kenny’s recovery. She showed us the DVD. It was a sweet moment of prayer and communion. By this time Kenny had lost about forty pounds, was looking rather thin and felt weak compared to his old self. They’d found a lesion in his digestive tract that was bleeding and he’d already had several blood transfusions.  He needed assistance showering and drying off and was slow and deliberate in his movements and not able to drive. Another long-time friend offered to assist Kenny with showers in the mornings and that was such a treat for all of us. You see, I had been showering Kenny myself for several weeks, and it was one of the most precious moments of the day. An honoring of his body, a blessing, a sweet and profound time of taking care of his body. He loved it and I loved it. And when we asked Kev to assist so I could prepare breakfast at the same time, he loved it too. Such a privilege to care for someone so intimately.

Back to Houston. At the airport, porters met us at the curb with a wheelchair and escorted us to the plane, making sure we were comfortably seated and all tucked in. In the meantime, Heartfelt Organization and a minister in MSIA who lives in Dallas had enlisted the assistance of ministers in Houston to help when we arrived. Jesus bought all our groceries. Yvette was to learn to make juices for us and clean the kitchen in our suite almost daily. Joaquin came to visit about three times a week to chat and hold the Light. Baba was to arrive a week later and visited every single day and did errands as needed, and spent the night so I could rest and arranged a ministers meeting right in our little hotel suite. Jesus did the laundry, made the bed, and helped Kenny shower many times during our stay. Our little army of soldiers was on the march with whatever was needed.

The second day at the clinic, Ken was scheduled for a scan to assess the extent of the melanoma. He wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything until after the procedure, which was late due to another patient’s emergency. I was frantic with worry because he had been getting dehydrated very easily. I called home (the seminary) and asked that an all-call go out to everyone in the building to send Light to Kenny and the procedure immediately. This comforted me a little while forever optimistic Kenny was certain everything would be OK all along. I prayed for Divine Intervention and finally the procedure was under way–4 hours after we were supposed to go back to the hotel. Finally he could eat a meal and drink his precious carrot apple juice–we were still following the Gerson protocol. That was Wednesday. Thursday we saw the nutritionist who immediately put Kenny on a protein-rich diet–his blood work showed advanced anemia and he was very weak. It was time to “beef” up his intake after five months of a completely vegan diet, part of the Gerson plan. This was another blow to the belief that Kenny could reverse the melanoma march.

Friday we had a telltale appointment to view the scan with the doctor and the radiologist. Both were stunned at what they saw. Kenny’s entire torso was blackened on the silhouette drawing and on the actual scan pictures, tumors lit up like lightbulbs everywhere, most of them concentrated in his torso, but also scattered throughout his limbs, neck and head as well. The radiologist was heard saying, “I’ve never seen so much involvement in any other patient.” We’ll try to help, they said. Kenny said, “Maybe I’ll be your Burzynski poster child.” We walked out of the clinic that day heavy with the reality of what we saw. And as if the day before wasn’t enough change to handle, today made its way into our awareness with a one-two punch, sending me reeling with tension and worry.

The next week presented the inevitable complication, Kenny needed another transfusion. It was off to the First Street Hospital to be admitted to their emergency room to wait for blood to arrive. It took all day for blood to show up. In the meantime, our own crew of ministers came to us with food and juice, and sweet Grace drove all the way from Austin with delicious homemade soup and bread. How tenderly we were ministered to, how dear these people who hardly knew us were caring for us. I was in tears most of every day, either from gratitude or from worry or from venting anxiety or sadness or resignation, or lack of sleep or…Kenny too, but mostly from gratitude.

Finally, the next day all the blood was now in Kenny’s veins and he was released to go back to the hotel. Some more visits to the clinic in the next few days, some more good food, juices, clinic-prescribed drugs (some of which were chemotherapy that presented their own set of really uncomfortable symptoms), and it was back to the hospital again for the next blood transfusion. Only this time he was to be admitted as an inpatient for ten days to handle one advanced melanoma symptom after another. Clinic drugs were suspended while IV’s and blood were administered along with his anti-brain swelling medicine, his thyroid medicine, and a host of other pills. In his later blogs he talks about how precious it was to have a bowel movement. It became tougher and tougher and one remedy after another was suggested. None worked very well, the daily battle to complete the cycle of eating and eliminating dragged on. After months of urinating a surprising couple of gallons each day, even urinating became a problem until the Foley catheter was inserted bringing blessed relief. All the while I slept in the visitor chair in the hospital room night after night, going back to the hotel every few days only to shower while one of our dear friends stayed with Kenny. I made sure that he was never alone, never without an MSIA minister or initiate by his side.

It was time to transfer Kenny from the ICU floor to a regular room in another wing. The internist visited to draw up the release papers. He suggested Kenny might want to think about getting home as soon as we could and arranging for hospice care. Kenny declined and said he would resume his Burzynski therapy. The doctor and the nurse took me aside outside the room and said with urgency that there was only a short window of time that we had to go home before he could not travel on conventional flights. Eventually he would need a special medically equipped charter flight that would be cost-prohibitive. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was hearing and I was seeing with my own eyes, and yet I couldn’t fully grasp that Kenny was slipping away at such a fast rate now. Every day another body function was compromised.

Just a day later, the gastroenterologist blustered  in after we were settled in the new room and he announced, “Do you know about a bucket list? Well it’s time to make yours. Eat anything you want and do whatever you want. OK, Buddy?” Did all our mouths drop open? Did we hear him right? Who trained him in his delicate bedside manner? I was livid with disbelief. Couldn’t say a word, neither could Kenny nor Baba. We just let him disappear out of the room as if he never showed up. Kenny was bent on continuing his Burzynski therapy.

Some time between hospital visits in Houston Kenny said to me, “Carol, I don’t think I’m going to make it.” I knelt down beside his chair, began to sob and said to him, “Oh Kenny, don’t say that, you’re still in treatment and don’t we believe it will work?” His response was something like, “OK yes, we’re still in treatment.” Now it seems apparent to me that what he really meant was, “OK Carol, I know you can’t handle it so I won’t talk about it anymore. But the reality is I’m dying.” And I am reminded that just about a month ago I heard him talking to a friend about a favor he was asking someone to do for him and the phrase, “You wouldn’t refuse a dying man, would you?” flew through the air and stuck in my skull like a speeding bullet. But just like all the other signals that he was declining rapidly now, I stuffed that one somewhere in an airtight compartment in the far reaches of my consciousness. Denial–that my strong, tall, handsome, smart, funny, and beautiful husband was slipping into the “Well of Souls.”

But I did listen to Doc #1 and suggested to Kenny that we continue the Burzynski treatment at home, that we do what we could to get home while he could still get on a plane and off again. He was walking very little now, had to be hoisted out of his chair and tucked into bed at night, but we knew what we had to do. Making arrangements to go home was in itself a relief. The timing of every occurrence in Houston was perfect. We prayed Spirit would meet us at the point of our action and it did, time and time again. We asked and prayed fervently that Spirit would fill in the gaps when we didn’t know what the next step would be, and it did repeatedly.

Taking Comfort in the Moment

If I had been more present with Kenny I would have listened to him talk about how he felt about not making it. I would have opened my mind and heart to hear him and hold him while he talked. I would have remembered when my father died, I did the same thing. He said, “Carol, it won’t be long now.” My answer was, “Oh Daddy, you seem to be getting better, aren’t you?” He shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows in an expression of doubt and passed away three days later. So while memories of Houston flood up during this one year anniversary since we embarked on that never-to-be-forgotten journey, I’m here to suggest you come present with your loved ones and talk about the inevitable–one of you will leave this world before the other and it will be impactful and profound–and oh so worth sharing about from the sincerity and tenderness of the spiritual heart. In another article I’ll talk about Kenny’s plane ride back home, and in another I’ll talk about why I was in denial–such a strange set of responses, but completely understandable. Next time.

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The Day my Husband Chose Hospice Care

It was March 11, 2010, just two days after arriving back home from our trip to the Burzynski Cancer Clinic in Houston, Texas. Houston is another story. But the significance of March 11 is our appointment with the oncologist, who had told us he’d do whatever he could to carry on the medications prescribed at the clinic. By this time, Kenny wasn’t walking much. He had a Foley catheter and was on a zillion medications for just as many symptoms. I wheeled him into the patient room where we waited for the doctor. He came in with his assistant. Kenny had lost a lot of weight and was very weak. When the oncologist saw the actual line-by-line treatment plan, contradictory to the Burzynski Clinic protocol, he announced to us that in all good conscience, he could not administer these drugs for Kenny’s condition. We asked what the alternative was, and gingerly he took this opportunity to mention Hospice–again. (In July ’09 we didn’t give it a second thought. In December we interviewed the Hospice worker just to see what it was all about and refused to start because it meant no more blood transfusions and we knew we were headed for many more.)

But this time, Kenny jumped at the chance to say “That’s what I want.” I looked at him incredulously, my heart sank like a lead weight into my stomach, choking on a giant knot in my throat, hot tears making their way down my cheeks, I was speechless, heart-broken, and in shock. Fighting back the sobs I really wanted to let out, all I could say was “Really, Kenny, really?” After all these months of focusing every waking moment on Kenny’s care, now we were to focus on his dying. This was so not in my plan, though it began to be evident way back in November, that there might be no turning back, that Kenny’s body was headed for the “Well of Souls” as he coined it. But I had a way of stuffing these day-by-day awarenesses somewhere where I could hide them from myself. If we were deeply involved in treatment plans like the Gerson protocol or the Burzynski Clinic, how could I also embrace that he was dying. I couldn’t.

So while I was reeling with this new era of preparing for him to die, I busied myself with all the Hospice arrangements there were to be made–the hospital bed, the wheelchair, the oxygen machine, the nurse appointments, the calls from the chaplain and the social worker. Kenny on the other hand, was continuing, not his valiant battle against cancer, but his journey into the Soul Realm where every day, as he drew nearer to his final day, his peace and love and joy and gratitude brought him to levels of realizing himself as one with God that knew no boundaries. Every day he expounded another seminar about our precious spiritual teachings. Every day he would tell me what he was grateful for. He said, “I’m a happy man. I have everything I need, plus my loving family and friends and you.” Every day I would say something like, “Kenny, you’re my hero. My one and only love of my life.” He would say back, “Carol you’re the love of my life.”

And for a while, while he still had some strength, the way he would get into bed was to put his arms around my neck while I swung him from sitting on the side of the bed to lying down. And that’s how we’d get him up in the morning. Precious moments these embraces. They would be the last times he would hug me, though I could kiss him, hold his hand, and wash him, brush his hair, dress him, and feed him until the very end. These were all precious moments that remain as symbols of the depth of our love. They remind me of the oneness we both experienced in each other. Both of us headed in the same direction, both of us  responding to his every need every moment of every day. One day we were lying close in bed and he managed to put his hand on my chest. Kenny had big, comforting hands with a healing touch. Even in his last days he was able to transmit that healing energy to me. I cried like a baby, no I cried like a wife who was losing her husband. Any day now he could be gone. Any day now the Well of Souls would claim him for the last time.

Where did I put all those images and signals that I was losing him? Stacked up somewhere in my consciousness, overshadowed by requiring myself to take Kenny’s direction, after all this was his life, his dying, and his Soul’s ascension. A celebration awaited him on the other side. I’ll find the right words another time to describe how my consciousness worked with compartmentalizing the power of that experience when it becomes clearer to me.

I’ve documented other precious moments in these last days of Kenny’s life in previous posts and I’m compelled to share as many as I can remember with you because of how tender and memorable they were. Somehow remembering them is comforting. In some ways like when we first fell in love—coming home after a date floating in the euphoria of going over each moment in my mind’s eye many times. There is new meaning now to the sentiment, “I only have my memories now.” It’s sometimes sad, but it also fills me with the experience of deep and abiding love. How divine that is.

Please feel free to comment either through the comment field below or by email directly to me at And pass this blog address to anyone who could benefit from what Kenny and I have and are still learning—he as a Soul after consciously dying to this world and me as his devoted partner, making my way through the grief of losing him into the peace and loving that awaits my awareness. Little by little I experience myself lifting my Spirit and lightening up. God bless us all.

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We were Counting Breaths ’til the Last One

It was the night Kenny took his last breath. My Circle of Light fellow ministers were standing by, both in our bedroom and in the hallway, silently meditating and ushering in Kenny’s passing. Each in our own way knew the moment was near.

It started early in the evening, his labored breathing. I gave him some morphine and sat him up in bed a little to help him breathe better, but this didn’t help much. He wasn’t able to talk by this time so I thought he had become unresponsive. I called hospice and they told me to administer more morphine to calm his breathing and that they would send a nurse by to check on him. The nurse arrived and told me the time was near and that his labored breathing was part of the process. In my limited understanding, I asked again if he should be so uncomfortable, and the nurse, sensing my alarm, relented and told me to give him more morphine and another kind of sedative to calm him down.

Kenny spit the sedative out and I dutifully put it back in his mouth. He gestured and moaned at this point, and I thought he was incoherent and agitated, which can happen according to what I had read. So without questioning or even thinking much, I gave him the morphine anyway, hoping it would calm him. He bit down on the dropper and again I just thought he was incoherent.

We both hushed a bit and fell asleep for a little while, and our Circle of Light ministers were meditating silently.

At some point, just as was predicted, I was called awake. I had been holding Kenny’s hand and then I put my other arm around his shoulders, came very close, and told him how much I loved him and it was OK to let go and to go with the Traveler. In just a few seconds, he breathed his last breath.

I think I wrote about this most precious moment in a previous post, but now I have much more understanding about who it was in me that couldn’t let my husband die the way he would have liked to go, for it is obvious to me now, after replaying this scene in my mind nearly every day,  that all his gesturing and moaning and refusing medication was meant to say please leave him alone in this  his last moments on earth—to let him breathe his last breath consciously. Yet in those moments of panic, I reacted out of a place within myself that wanted him to be comfortable. Nice thought, but not on the right page. Why not? Reacting out of limited mindset instead of responding to the signals that were present.

This scene has played itself out in my memories over and over with no resolution, only a very painful example of my own shortcomings, my lack of awareness, my shortsighted, made-up mindset about what his death should look like. I know—that’s a harsh description of my own limitations and to this day I regret not asking him what he would have liked as he was dying. I had no clue that it would even be possible to ask and he had no clue to offer what he would have liked either.

Perfectly matched in our fears of losing each other. This was definitely a characteristic of our relationship, now it’s obvious as I look back over the years of his acting out in fear and my reacting in fear. There’s plenty more to say about the patterns that have been revealed to me since Kenny died, but not for this post.

The most important message in this post is what I heard Kenny say today: he told me “You gave me so much even though you don’t think so—that the least I could do was give you a moment of peace before I left. That was the only thing I could give you, my Darling One.”

Having heard this precious communication today, I was finally somewhat relieved of my burden and ready to write this post. So there’s not so much blame and self-judgment left, and much more gratitude for the precious moments I experienced of Kenny’s appreciation and love toward me. I cried my eyes out as I opened myself to receive his love–nine months later. Better now than never!

And just like he said would happen, our relationship grows deeper, more loving and more intimate as I seek to reach up into the high realms to meet his Soul there. The same skills, discipline, love and letting go are required of me as those needed to experience my own Soul. Imagine our radiant forms, vibrating light, radiating love, compassion, oneness, understanding, and acceptance—the most precious attributes of the Soul and of any relationship. Breathe in Kenny’s loving. Breathe out my loving to him. That’s a very peaceful and compassionate exercise. A beautiful way to reach up.

So if you (when you) hold for a loved one who is dying, ask them all the questions you can think of that would help make their experience the best it can be–what they want it to be. I did the best I could with what I had–and you will too. But more on that later.

I invite you to share your experiences in the comments field of this blog, ask me questions, make comments, share this blog with anyone who could benefit from our writings. Contact me by email if you wish at The blessings already are!

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Where do I go from here? From Mourning to Conversations with Kenny

I was going to write about the huge impact having an attitude of gratitude plays in my life because in those months of caring for Kenny, there were so many miracles to be thankful for, and so many people who ministered to us on a daily basis. That would have been very uplifting and genuinely sweet and touching, after all, writing about being grateful to people for their generosity of Spirit and being grateful to God for the many moments of perfection we experienced, opens not only my heart, but most likely your heart as well. Only since my last entry, it’s taken weeks of self-reflection, giving in to the never-ending tears, and beginning somatic therapy to even write the first sentence here. Having the notion of learning about perfection on my life path, I squander energy racing back and forth between feeling sorry for myself, grieving all by myself, putting on a face for my friends and coworkers so I won’t appear self-indulgent, feeling guilty that I haven’t gotten past some fake and made up idea of a corner-turning stage of grief into a happier, more productive, more social, more likable, all healed up widow ready to put Kenny in his rightful place in my memories and moving on in my life to new beginnings. Widow! Always was a disturbing term, not it’s downright mean.

I’ve intimated in previous posts that Kenny had a lot to hide. And he was a master at it. But what I didn’t know is how much I was hiding. Throughout our marriage and probably throughout my entire life and all the other relationships I’ve had, I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy “fixing” my partners. This resulted in the ironic effect of keeping understanding and healing my own traumas at bay, avoiding any resolution for the last six decades. I thought of myself as the healthy one and I thought of the other as the helpless one, the sick one, the disturbed one, the one that needed “fixing.” And if I only did this and such, they would mend their ways and emerge 100% recovered. Oh, and did I forget to say, in the emerging they would love me.

Where in the world did this come from? What made me the “fixer?” Well I can only speak to this lifetime, though I’m sure it stems from others. And I’m about to launch into psycho-babble, so bear with me. When I was six months old, my father was called to World War II. So in November 1943, we packed all our gear, and Mommy and her “little monkey” as I was called, followed Daddy across country as far west as we could go before he was shipped off to the China/Burma/India theater. It was a brutal two years of ugly hand-to-hand combat, but he survived (only physically) and came home in 1945 a broken man. Friends and family whispered that Luddy used to be so happy-go-lucky, and now, poor man, he sleeps a lot and his eyes look so sad, and he doesn’t talk much any more.

Somehow it was while Daddy was at war that I began to know myself as the “fixer.” I was there to fix my mother’s grief and fear of the ever-pending notice of injury or God forbid, death of her soldier-husband. I was glued to her side as if I hadn’t been born yet. I absorbed her thoughts and feelings. I made her feel better just by giving her someone special to love. This would be a beautiful ministry for a little baby, but the bond became so impenetrable that when Daddy came home, there were no threads to unravel, no holes to peek into, not a smidgen of dust to indicate a draft where he might discover the path to relate to me.

Being the only child (a girl child) and wanting desperately to win my father’s love, I remember following him around, asking to do things with him. I’d go up on the roof to hammer shingles down. I’d help him carry bricks when he built the outdoor barbecue, I’d ride with him in this ’52 Ford pick-up to “colored town” to pay his helpers or pick them up on Monday morning after a weekend of bingeing. I’d try to be a boy to see if that would work. And I’d buy him presents I thought he would love for his birthday and Christmas, which by the way were the same day. Lodovico Natale Colombi. Luddy (Christmas) Colombi.

There it was, the beginning of a pattern of relating to men–who needed help. And it didn’t stop there. My mother was sick most of my childhood with recurring bouts of Crone’s disease that required multiple surgeries almost like clockwork. If it was February, she was almost always in the hospital–her birthday month. Me, I had my share of childhood diseases, but nothing that didn’t mend quickly and easily. There’s so much history around so many childhood experiences, suffice it to say here that no wonder my darling Kenny was with me for only thirteen years and agreed in Spirit to leave me after the most traumatic year of our lives, but to leave me, never to be seen again on this earth. No calling to say I’m sorry, I’m coming home. No letters to say what he couldn’t say in person, no repairing our marriage, no coming home from the war, just the end of all ends–death–the thing my mother feared the most. The thing I absorbed through my skin. In the end in my pores, I knew they would all leave me.

See I told you I feel self-indulgent, wallowing in my loss, stuck on repeat with no end in sight. And don’t you wonder what somatic therapy will do for me? It’s supposed to heal one of traumas, physical, emotional, mental, all of them. And I’ve had many more than the average first world citizen. So while some people get sick as a result of karmic patterns, others hurt themselves or allow others to hurt them. So my goal? To heal the hurts and change the karmic flow to create more balance–eh, maybe add to be happier, to experience more joy, and receive more love, and to absolutely know that God and I are one.

Meanwhile, I pour over the thousands of pictures my photographer-husband took over his lifetime, culling out the most beautiful and spectacular landscape photos and portraits of all his work in order to find a representative selection to include in the book I’m compiling. Not only do I want to convey his magnificent transformation and transcendence through his own blog entries, but my own experiences of caring for him, grieving for him, growing my Self and learning to tune in to his messages from the Spirit world. I am convinced his ministry continues, and I want to know how and why and what he wants you, dear readers, to know about conscious death and conscious dying and the after life.

I am blessed to have this medium to share our precious story. God bless you and all your loved ones. I’d promise you that the next entry will be on gratitude, but we’ll see. In the meantime, my dear friend who introduced me to Liz who introduced me to Ruthie, who is able to communicate with Kenny and all those who will teach me the same, encouraged me to include a picture of Kenny and me. Underneath, surrounding, and overriding all our challenges, is a deep and abiding love that no trauma could or would shake. It’s there for eternity–a spiritual promise–our heritage as initiates and ministers of God. Look for it in these photos. And soon I’ll be chatting away with Kenny myself.

Sending you all deepest love and gratitude for hanging in here with me, sending your love and Light, and witnessing the transformation of consciousness into the Heart of God.

Carol & Kenny Aug 1996 at the Beloved Island House

Carol, Ken, and our Valentine Tiger March 2010

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