By Lucia Thornton
[This post by Lucia Thornton was originally published in 2009 in BRIDGES Magazine. I’d like to introduce you to Lucia here although many of you will have already met her. She and I co-edited that issue of ISSSEEM’s member magazine and she wrote this in her editorial comment,
“I have been interested in the afterlife and the spiritual realm for as long as I can remember. My interest became an intense search for answers after the death of my son David in 2000. Loss and death are inevitable. And when they come unexpectedly, as they often do, our lives can become chaotic, traumatized, and filled with inconsolable grief. I don’t believe any understanding or knowledge of the afterlife can diminish these responses and shield us from the grief, suffering and pain that are inherent to being human. I do, however, believe that exploring the pandimensional nature of our existence helps us gain a greater understanding of who we really are and provides us with a more evolved perspective, greater meaning, and hope in our lives.
When we begin to understand that this time on earth is but a ‘pit stop’ in our ultimate journey – that each of us exists in many different forms, in many different dimensions simultaneously, then we can begin to understand who we really are and see ourselves in a greater Light. Understanding that the Light that shines within us is shared by every human being and every life form helps us understand that “we are all one” and connected to each other.”]
My son David was an amazing young man. He was everything I could ever have hoped for in a child. He was brilliant, well-liked, well-rounded, talented, funny, loving … I could go on forever, but you get the idea.
One day, quite unexpectedly, David died. That day, my life turned upside down. Words cannot begin to describe the pain and sorrow that I felt in every part of my being. In the midst of my devastation, I found myself desperate to know more about the afterlife. I simply could not turn off my motherly instinct to worry about his wellbeing even though he was gone from this world.
I always had a belief that the essence of who we are continues beyond death. In addition, an earlier experience of what some term ‘cosmic consciousness’ provided me with a first-hand experience of existence beyond the physical realm. In spite of my long-held belief and dramatic experience, I found myself ill-equipped to answer several compelling questions. ‘Why did David die so young? What was his purpose in life? Where is he now?
One month after his death, David appeared to me in a very lucid dream. He was sitting on a gurney in the emergency room. His skin had areas of gross deterioration indicating that he had been dead for some time. We were having a lovely conversation but were interrupted on several occasions by a nurse who kept trying to get a blood sample. After several failed attempts, I scolded her saying, “Stop trying to take his blood. Can’t you see he is dead?” The nurse looked at me in earnest and said, “We just need to know why he died.” I soon realized that the nurse was really me, needing desperately to know WHY my son had died. After the nurse left, I looked at my son and asked, “David, I really need to know – What was your purpose in life?” He looked at me with such tenderness and replied, “My purpose was to love you.”
I had always envisioned that David would do great things in this world. I saw him as either a physician or a teacher. It turns out that he was and still is a very fine teacher. David taught me that it isn’t what you “do” or “accomplish” in this life that is important – it is learning to love one another that is our primary purpose.
I was especially distressed by the way David died. He died celebrating his 21st birthday with his fraternity brothers while engaging in the popular college ritual of consuming 21 shots of alcohol on your 21st birthday. After drinking 21 shots David passed out, vomited, aspirated, and died. The senseless way David died compounded my grief and angst.
I called Elmer Green to see if he could help shed some light on David’s death. To me, Elmer is a wise and trusted friend and teacher whom I felt fortunate to be able to call upon when I need to make sense of worldly nonsense. Elmer’s words offered me the greatest consolation. I told Elmer that in the few days prior to David’s death my husband and I had been on vacation at Disneyworld with our two children, David and his sister Christy. At lunch two days prior to David’s death, I started to nag David about using sunscreen. David’s eyes met mine in a way they never met my eyes before. He said, “Mom, I’m not afraid to die … who knows … maybe life is a prison and death is freedom.”
When I relayed that story to Elmer, he said, “Lucia, don’t be distressed by the way that David died. It is said that when the Soul realizes that “life is a prison and death is freedom,” then it is free to move on. It is hard for a 21-year-old to lose his body.”
After David died, I spent many days hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. David loved the mountains. He loved to ski, fish, hike, and backpack. My fondest memories are of our backpacking trips together. So, I felt that being in the mountains helped me connect to David. One day while hiking, I felt water dripping on my shoulder. I kept looking over my shoulder to see where the water was coming from. It was noon, there was no precipitation, and there was no dew on the trees. I kept asking myself, “Where is this water coming from?” For nearly half an hour I kept looking over my shoulder trying to determine the source of this water.
Then I began to hear in my mind one of the songs that played at David’s funeral – You’ll Be in My Heart by Phil Collins. The chorus to the song goes, “Just look over your shoulder, and I’ll be there . . . always.” When I realized that the water was actually David trying to connect with me, the desperate mother in me said, “David, you need to do better than that – I need to SEE you, to FEEL you, and to HOLD you.” Very clearly, I heard him respond, “Mom, that is REALLY hard to do!” Again, the desperate mother in me emphatically responded, “David, you can do anything that you set your mind to do!”
Six weeks after that encounter I was wakened from my sleep by what seemed to be someone tapping my side. When I awoke, I saw David by my bedside. He was not in his physical form but instead he had a rather gray ethereal form. I got out of bed and gave him a very big hug. Being able to see him, feel him, and put my arms around him soothed my heart and soul at the deepest level. The love between us was finally palpable again.
Then I asked him a question that had been continually haunting me. “David, where have you been?” He put his arms around me and said, “Mom, I’ve been here all the time. You just couldn’t see me!”
I spent the first two years after David’s death in an intense state of grieving. More often than not, my days were filled with tears and pain. There were times, however, when my longing and love for David would transcend the sadness and pain. I could actually ‘feel’ the force of my love creating a bridge between the finite and the infinite.
Oftentimes, in my darkest moments, I could actually hear David say, “Mom, snap out of it. We have work to do!” As part of my work, I had been developing a model of care that defines who we are as “infinite and sacred beings.” Out of these dark times I would often receive uplifting and inspiring ideas and concepts that felt as though they were coming from David. During his time on earth David always had a way of bringing forth joy and levity, something he obviously carried with him into the next realm.
In the past few years I have felt less and less of David’s presence, something I attributed to his moving on. A good friend and colleague of mine who has the ability to communicate with spirits told me that David had indeed moved on, and was reincarnating as a little girl. This sent me into an incredible depression. I thought that if David had indeed moved on then I would never be able to “see” him again. Further, if he had reincarnated, I would never be able to “feel” his presence or “talk” with him. I felt so alone.
Then, in the Spring of 2008, something quite marvelous happened. I attended a workshop Mark Macy was offering. He had a device called a “Luminator” and was talking about the research he had been engaged in with spirit communication. After his presentation Mark offered to take Polaroid pictures of people in the group, photographs that might reveal spirits. Everyone, of course, wanted to have their picture taken. After having my picture taken, I sat down with the Polaroid picture that was slowly developing in front of me. The woman sitting next to me had a photograph that had completely developed and nothing out of the ordinary appeared in her photo. It was simply a very clear image of her. As I sat watching my photo develop, it appeared blurry, which I thought was strange. As it continued to develop, I saw the face of my son appear. David’s face, although blurry, was superimposed over my own. Seeing David’s face brought me enormous consolation. I could hear him say once again, “Mom, I’ve been here all the time, you just can’t see me.”
This experience opened my mind to perceiving who we are in a much more expansive way. How is it that David could be reincarnated as a little girl and still be with me?” “Of course,” I said to myself. “We ARE pandimensional fields of energy – just like Martha said!” I am referring to Martha Rogers, a nurse theorist who was also a wonderful mentor to me. She had been the Dean of Nursing at NYU for many years and first developed her theory of Man as a Unitary Human Being in the early 1970s. I’ll never forget the day I spent visiting Martha in her Phoenix home after she retired. I needed some clarification about some of her concepts. I was working on my master’s thesis using her theory as a framework. It was a magical day. The phone was ringing off the hook. Word had just gotten out that Martha had changed her description of “energy field” from “multidimensional” to “pandimensional.” She looked at me and said, “You know I started out with “three dimensional” and changed to “four dimensional,” and then changed to “multidimensional” and I knew that wasn’t right, but pandimensional – yes – that’s right. We are pandimensional energy fields.”
For ten years I had been teaching students that we are “pandimensional energy fields” yet I never really understood the concept until I saw the photo of David appear before my eyes. The idea that we can exist in different dimensions simultaneously continues to boggle my ordinary mind. David has been and continues to be a very important teacher in my life. As my firstborn, he taught me how to love unconditionally. After his passing, he taught me that learning to “love” is our purpose. Our life is not measured by our possessions, status, titles, or accomplishments, but by how much love we can carry in our hearts. David has taught me that love is not only a bridge to the Infinite – love IS the essence of who we are and the essence of ALL that exists. When we rest in our essence in the “Field of Love,” we are one with ALL that exists.
There is no separation. There is no death.
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In the next WINN post Lucia will describe the technique for sending love or thoughts to departed souls that was taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.
Lucia Thornton has been involved in nursing for the past 45 years, first working in the ER and ICU, then going on to develop the model of Whole Person Caring that redefines who we are to include our spiritual and energetic essence. She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and past President of the American Holistic Nurses Association.
She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The image that leads this post (it can be viewed on the website if you do not receive it with the post) is by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.
Copyright retained by Lucia Thornton 2023.
3 Comments Add yours
I feel deeply grateful to you for sharing your transcendent experiences with your wonderful son. The term pandimentional is great! So much for us to learn and experience, especially about love.
I loved reading this story. It makes sense and my heart goes out to her, as a mother and a soul. Thanks for sharing.
Lucia’s story about her son was so moving, and set me to thinking about 4 other mothers/families who have lost young sons. Reminding me to continue to pray/meditate for their well-being. And then there is Holy Week and Easter. Many people find it impossible to accept the events of Easter. We can be opened and convinced by the current thinking of physicists about multiple simultaneous planes. And even better: pandimensional fields of energy.