Tea with emmanuel

photo by  basheer tome

photo by basheer tome

The cynic in me wished it had come wrapped in discreet brown paper, like old-school porn or a build-your-own-atomic-rocket kit.

It had never occurred to me that answers or comfort or enlightenment might be found inside a book. The futility of making sense of our loss of Liam made me indifferent to philosophy, immune to it, even hostile that any self-proclaimed new age guru would presume to try and answer unanswerable questions.

So I've fumbled through the last year since he died, relying entirely on the exfoliating properties of writing. An attempt at counselling went nowhere, and I figured it was time to simply let time pass.

Then I came across Julie, whose beautiful, two-year-old son Ward died in the summer of 2005.

Try Don't Kiss Them Good-bye by Allison DuBois, she wrote, and anything by Elisabeth Kubler Ross. I liked The Afterlife Connection by Dr. Jane Greer, too. But if you only read one, read Emmanuel's Book.

Errmmm, I thought. A book? With, what? Airbrushed unicorns and sunbursts on the front cover and a reverently, constantly capitalized letter H as in His plan and His glory and His eternal salvation?

I may be a cynic, but I like Julie. I like how she talks of her little Ward, and of her journey as a healing mama. Her enthusiasm for the genre had me curious in a what-harm-can-it-do sort of way. I had tried counselling for the sake of due diligence. I was sure it would be pap and saccharine, death for dummies. But maybe there was something there. Due diligence.

And so it was during a rare window of spiritual consumerism that I clicked 'Add to Shopping Cart' and a few weeks later Emmanuel's Book arrived alongside Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. Forgetting I'd ordered a book with the subtitle A Manual for Living Comfortably in the Cosmos I opened the box and shrank in embarrassment, hustled to the bedroom to stash it in my underwear drawer.

I snuck it out when no one was looking, brought a pot of tea to the bedside table and curled up under the duvet at 2 PM on a wintery Tuesday, just because I could. And I saw this:

Dying is akin to having been in a rather stuffy room
where too many people are talking and smoking
and suddenly you see a door that allows you to exit
into fresh air and sunlight.
Truly it is much like that.
Matter becomes less dense.
Consciousness becomes less restricted.
Colours become more vibrant.
Sounds become more pleasant.
All the senses, finally released
from the cloak of the physical body
take flight with song.

The heckler in me scoffs:

Oh, please. Finally released? He never even made it outside. 'Finally' doesn't apply to someone who had so little chance to live. I want him here with me in this rather stuffy room, dammit.

Then something quieter whispers

Oh, please. Please let it have been like that.


Over the past year people of all persuasions have sent spiritual kibble my way. Quotes like these:

The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. —James Baldwin

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes on to the next as blossom, and so that which came to me as blossom goes on as fruit. —Dawna Markova

...and suggestions of books, many books, most of which have been duly noted but unexplored. I'm not sure why.

What's your kibble? What words or philosophies softened your heart a little, after the loss of your baby?


Author, photographer, founder of Glow. Mother of three boys, one of whom died at six weeks old nine years ago. Nine years ago, I was someone else. Love and sorcery and poetry and terrible luck and wonderful luck.