We are all reminded at this time of year to be thankful since we have Thanksgiving coming up, yet I’m reminded of another day this month that holds a special significance to me, the day my grandmother passed away. I’m not going to try to bring your spirits down in any way by telling you about Grandma Chuma’s death, but rather I’m going to tell you about how it impacted and deepened my relationship to her and “the other side”.
This all happened 5 years ago.
It was 2012, and I had just resigned from my teaching position at the high school and became a Reiki Master. I was diving head first into spiritual living and learning as much as I could about the healing arts, intuitive development, and other topics that were far removed from the linear thinking and rational modeling that mathematics had provided me for more than a decade.
I was regularly listening to a podcast called Psychic Teachers which was hosted by two women that were college professors for their day jobs and psychics on the side. One was a medium and Reiki Master, and the other was a tarot card reader and an intuitive.
Each week they would discuss a topic like mediumship, astrology, and oracle cards, and it was a great way for me to start opening up my own intuitive abilities and pull away from the need to be able to explain things logically and scientifically. The Psychic Teachers often talked about connecting with loved ones who have passed, and the techniques they discussed helped me on the days that followed my grandmother's passing.
After I got the call that she was gone I grabbed my copy of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and read aloud some prayers to help her soul transition from her physical body into the afterlife. When I finished the prayers I sat in meditation and watched an incredible scene unfold in my mind.
During the meditation I saw my grandmother sitting in a wheelchair and being helped to her feet by two of her sisters, my great aunts Marie and Emma who had passed years earlier. As grandma stood up she was placed into the arms of my grandfather who proceeded her in death 50 years prior. They both had been waiting for that embrace for a long time.
As I watched my grandparents reunite, my view of the scene began to widen to see them surrounded by other family members joining them. My grandmother was the last of 13 siblings to die and I was witnessing a reunion of their souls.
My view widened even more to see that not only were family members present, but there was a large gathering of souls surrounding them as they started to walk off into the distance, and I believed what I was seeing was a celebration and welcoming of a soul to the other side.
Whether or not what I was seeing in that meditation was real, it left me with such a peaceful and comforting feeling that I didn’t care to try to explain it or discount it.
It didn’t need to be true nor did I need to prove it false. I accepted that what I witnessed was the beautiful experience of my grandmother being welcomed to the other side by her husband and the rest of her family.
Over the next 36 hours I wanted to try to connect with my grandmother by using a method that I heard on the Psychic Teachers podcast. I wanted to think of a sign that she could use to show me whenever she was around. I wanted the sign to be unique to her and not something that I would see often on a normal day. I decided to ask her to show me a Canadian maple leaf or a Canadian flag because her first name was Alberta and it always made me think of Canada.
When I was boarding the flight the following day to go back to Pittsburgh for her funeral, the line of passengers walking down the aisle towards their seats came to a halt and I was stopped for a few moments in the first class cabin. As I waited for the line to start moving again and was avoiding making any unwanted eye contact with the other passengers, my eyes wandered to an overhead bin a few feet in from of me. On the handle of a piece of luggage I was looking at was an Air Canada tag with the signature red maple leaf staring straight back at me, and a chill ran through my body.
My grandmother was there with me on the flight to escort me back for her funeral.
Of course I could’ve written this off as a coincidence, but it makes me feel better to believe that she heard my request and showed me the sign to let me know she was there. And so I believed it to be my truth. It may not be absolutely true, and there is good possibility that it could’ve been a coincidence. But to live in a way that denies me of the magical possibilities to connect with more than what we currently know doesn’t sound very adventurous to me.
A few days after the funeral I told my mom about my meditation experience and the story of receiving the sign on the airplane from grandma, and she was moved to tears. She was and still is open to and believes in psychic phenomena, and she wanted me to let her know if grandma showed me any more signs in the future.
I found the entire experience so fascinating that I emailed the story to the Psychic Teachers, and they ended up reading it on one of their podcast episodes (listen to that episode here and my story starts at 57:32). The fact that they did that validated the experience even more for me and kept me open to look for more signs.
When I was back in my hometown for Christmas a month later, my mom and I met up with my aunt and two of my cousins at my grandmother’s house to clean up a little and see if there was any items of hers that we would like to keep before the house was sold along with everything in it. We reminisced as we looked around the house and before we left we showed each other what we found and what we wanted to take with us.
As my cousin was showing us some decorative pillow cases that grandpa sent home to grandma while he was on military deployment over seas she also picked up a silk handkerchief and said to us that she didn’t know why she grabbed it. It just seemed unusual enough to keep.
When she showed it to us I knew exactly why she picked it up. It was a map of Canada, and again I got chills. I looked at my mom and reminded her that grandma communicated with me using Canadian signs. I told my aunt and cousins about my connection with grandma and that through the Canadian handkerchief she was letting us know that she was there with us while we were in her house. (I still have that hanky with me 5 years later.)
Grandma has shown up many times since then, and I’ll share one more story to let you know why I can’t write these experiences off as coincidences.
About two months after the funeral I was driving to a gig with a band that I had also played with on the day she died. She only got to see me play music once while she was alive, and so I thought to myself that since she was no longer limited by the physical world I could invite her and grandpa to the show. I spoke out loud in my car as I drove and invited them to come hear the band that night, and then I went on about my day.
Later that night during the show the singers were talking with the audience in between songs and asked who had traveled the furthest to be there. There were shouts from the crowd. “Michigan!” “Wisconsin!” “Minnesota!” And then I heard two groups of people in the crowd shout out “Canada!”
Upon hearing that I thought that was a pretty good sign, but I wasn’t going to be satisfied with pretty good that night. It had to be more specific for me to believe grandma was there, and wouldn’t you know that one of the groups said they were from Alberta, Canada. That’s when I knew my grandparents were there that night enjoying the music with me.