Wednesday, October 17, 2012


This is one of those not-for-the-faint-of-heart posts.  Don't read it if brutal details haunt you in difficult ways.

I am also somewhat extremely hesitant to post this for other reasons, as I know there are people reading this blog who will conclude that my mind and I have finally parted company.  But, you know, fools rush in  . . .

And where is it that angels tread, exactly?

The first time I was with someone who died was in 1960, when I was in the automobile collision in which my mother was killed instantly.  Although I am told that I was conscious when we were discovered, I have no memory of that event.

The next time was in 2005, when I sat with my stepmother as she died after a several-months journey with lung cancer.  My father left the hospital immediately, but I stayed with her for about an hour.  I was so sure that we were being accompanied by Others that I occasionally looked out the window into the 5:00 a.m. darkness, expecting to see someone.

The next many dozens of time occurred during the summer of 2008, when I was doing my clinical chaplaincy education at The Cleveland Clinic.  Sixty actual workdays and nights over a ten-week period.  One of my units was a medical intensive care unit, and at a hospital like that, the people in the MICU are desperately ill.  When we were on call in the hospital at night (about once a week), we were each the only chaplain for 1000 beds -- all units.  I had two days that summer in which no one died.  Many days and nights the numbers were two, three, four.  I did not have any sense of the physical presence of Others that summer.

A few weeks after that, my son jumped to his death. Some months, maybe a year afterward, the shock beginning to wear off a bit, I began to wonder whether it was possible that the small patch of ground outside his apartment building had been crowded with angels that night.  I didn't particularly believe in angels, or not, but I began to wonder. I found that I kind of like to imagine that there is, quite literally, a host of beings of light who rush to lift the broken to God.  That they appear on isolated country roads, in high-tech hospital units, in suburban neighborhoods.

Yesterday, sitting by a hospital bed and waiting through the final moments of an elderly woman's life, I closed my eyes and bowed my head and -- yes.  Despite the occasional beeping of machinery and the voices of nurses in the hallway, I heard it -- or rather I sensed it.  The light brush of Others in the room.

I wondered, later last night, what angels look like.  Probably not like us, and probably not wearing white robes and bearing feathery wings.  Probably more like columns of light.  Think Tanner's Annunication.

I don't suppose it matters what they look like.  It matters that they are there.

Image: Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland OH


  1. You haven't lost your mind. You've recognized your spiritual self. I've sensed the Others as well -- both at times of death, crisis and birth. And I also like to think of them as columns of light.

  2. I absolutely believe this is the way it is. I once sat at the bedside of a friend who was dying. Out of the corner of my eye I kept seeing shadows of beings but couldn't see anything when I turned my head. She died a few hours later and my thought at the time was that they were there in preparation although when I think about it I think they are always there. Perhaps at death the veil parts or that liminal space opens up or something. I believe they are there for everyone.

  3. My dear friend...thank you for sharing this with us. I so appreciate it and your powerful, courageous, beautiful words.

    I have been privileged to be with two people as they died; an aunt and my grandfather. They were the most sacred experiences of my life, and I was certain that there were other Beings in the room with us both times. (My Bigdaddy had been talking to his for days).

  4. I don't know what I think yet. But I do like this idea very much. I hope it's true.

  5. You always seem connected to your mind. I have had moments too when I have seen " others ". Strange disturbing wonderful encounters. It is good to know I am not alone.

  6. Having been a nurse for decades, I believe in Others and/or angels, have some personal family experiences with them,not to mention all those hospital times.


  7. Not sure what I believe about angels and Others but I do know that you are far from having lost your mind. Your words and writing are as clear, cogent, and rational as always.

  8. Thank you for writing this. You and your mind are seemingly quite united and beautifully so. You have given me chills and I am grateful to have read what you wrote- especially the parts that must have been the hardest to write. My heart to you.

  9. I believe there are others, angels, those we love - all of these - present with us. Perhaps they are always near, perhaps they come near when needed, perhaps they are just on the other side of that veil (so thin, it seems to be). I sense Katie nearby at times; I have read accounts written by people who have seen and felt the presence which you sense. The bible speaks of angels, as well. All of this is why I believe.

  10. Thank you for sharing these very deep thoughts and feelings. I am sure that there are Others with us at all times but we aren't always in tune so it is only at certain times that we are aware.

  11. Thank you for the reminder Robin that there is more here than what we physically see.


  12. I guess I'm not alone, either in the experiences or in the wondering!

  13. Oh, Robin, you are definitely not alone. I stand with Purple - in awe. I am sorry for the loss of loved ones in your life.

    I'm so with Others/Angels. A few years ago I read - And God Cried, Too: A Kid's Book of Healing and Hope by Rabbi Marc Gellman. Brings tears to my eyes as I remember some of the stories of Mikey being trained by Gabe to be a guardian angel. The book brought a deep peace into the core of my being.

    Abundant blessings to you this day. And God's love.

  14. I am OK with angels. I personally in hope that they hang out in the offices run by urologists.