“A Gift of Love” by Rev. Claudia Tambur.
A Message delivered on November 12, 2017 for Hospice of Northwest Ohio Annual Memorial Service.
In remembrance of those who made their transition this past year and their loved ones I share this message. Because it is truly for all of us no matter the loss we seem to be experiencing. As we approach the Holiday Season, may this message be a gift to you. Please remember, you are not alone in this experience or in life. May you be reminded of the beautiful and profound Gifts of Love waiting to be received by you.
Love and Blessings to you, Rev. Claudia
Hello, good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to be here with you today. My name is Claudia Tambur and I am a minister at a spiritual center here in Toledo. By your presence, I know you have recently experienced the loss of a loved one or you are supporting someone going through this experience. And so, my heart is with you now, in love, and I bless and acknowledge you for being here today.
For it is by joining together, we can sense and glimpse that we do not walk this path alone, but rather that we are companioned by one another, by loved ones, and by all who seek to arrive at peace, solace, and understanding. I believe in our joining together, we are stronger, that we can buoy one another up, till we get through this, not around it, but through it so we may experience the gifts of life, of having loved and of transforming a sense of loss into something rich and meaningful.
What I get to notice, perhaps more than others because of what I do for a living, is that at one point or another we all qualify to be here, to be in this room. I begin by saying you are not alone. By your courage to be here may you receive this gift. That as we look around we may feel our connection. I invite you to allow the power of a gathering like this to surround you in love and support as we regard ourselves as part of one big family for this day.
It wasn’t all that long ago when the first big loss of a loved one occurred in my life. I was in ministerial school when my dad died about 7 years ago. In our teaching we use the word “transition” instead of “death”. We don’t believe that it is possible for anyone to actually “die”. It is the idea that we all simply transition from this experience into the next one. That which we call death is the death of a body, a laying down of the vehicle that got us around in this life. We believe our spirit, that which is real about us, is everlasting, eternal. This was my belief system as I companioned my father in his transition, his death of the body.
At the phase when he was no longer conscious to me, I contemplated the journey he must be going on, the in between “here” and “there”. I believed that I could connect with him even in those moments and the moments that followed. We had a silent conversation as he made his way to the next realm, which I was taught that, for him, that it was ultimately like walking into the next room.
I am grateful for all the wonderful ideas about Life eternal that I was immersed in. And yet, as uniquely prepared as I thought I might have been, nothing compares to the actual experience. The jolting sense of loss in that moment. The knowing that something has changed and will never really be the same. I realized that I held at bay the experience of grieving. The experience, both physical and emotional, of releasing the physical presence of this man, my father.
Many well-meaning people might say, “Well he lived a good long life and what a blessing that was”. Words meant to comfort, but seeming to diminish the experience I was having. An experience that felt gut wrenching and the thought, “Oh my God, can there be an experience of life without him here?”
What I have been shown is that no matter the circumstances, whether thought to be a blessing, too soon, expected, unexpected, or a tragedy, that somewhere, at some time, there is a gift in it all. My message today is that through whatever your experience is, to hold on. And to begin to look for the little gifts that are present, even in this.
With my experience we were able to be with my Dad afterwards, after the life left his body. I remember taking the time to cherish him. I wanted to memorize his unique features; his face, his forehead, his hands. And noticing, as I looked at his hands and arms, how miraculously mine are an exact replica of his. I am not sure I ever noticed it in that way before. I wanted to love and cherish the body, the vehicle, the form, that housed the spirit of my Dad. Yet, soon it became clear, that he was no longer there. And then it hit, the sense of a loss like a punch in the stomach.
Because of my training I was given other messages. I knew that the life energy simply went elsewhere. I began to learn that in the emptiness of the experience, in the waves of grief that washed over me, there could also be waves of insight, of love, of memories, of reminders that never would have come during his life, but were rather continuing ripples of the gifts of our love that would wash over me. They were like little harbingers. Messengers. As if to say, “love never dies”, and in some way, “I’m still here”.
For me, these messengers and harbingers came in nature. One day my sisters and I went on a walk in his remembrance. It was a walk each of us had taken with him many, many times. There was a familiar overlook where we’d always take a break to pause and look out at the beauty. We’d rest for a moment before going on and canvas the scenery looking for whatever gift happened to appear that day. On this particular ‘remembrance’ walk, as we paused and scanned the scenery, just as we did with him, we saw six deer! There was a buck and five doe. Just like our family: Dad, Mom and four girls. In that moment we felt his presence. His love. A gift. A gift of love.
Another time, hiking in the mountains, I looked up to the sky and saw a soaring bird. Another harbinger. A messenger proclaiming, “I am free now. See me soar. No pain. No hindrance of the body. I am simply free.” And I knew it as a gift. A message from him.
And then the most overt message of all. One day I was reviewing old messages on my phone and there was his voice. A voice that was indeed nearing the end of this experience. The sounds of the beeping machines from his hospital room were in the background. His voice spoke my childhood nickname, “Little-O”, earned a lifetime ago for my love of Spaghetti O’s. He said, “Little-O this is your Dad and I’m still alive”. And me thinking, “Yes Daddy. I know.” A gift. A message. One I know to be true. He is still alive. Just not here. Not in this experience. But nonetheless, still alive.
Other gifts came in the form of an understanding. Of an experience long gone. The release of my own self guilt for words not spoken. Deeds left undone. Others…A shift of sensing and knowing that it was perfect. Just as it was and just as it was not. And the building of trust that this is so. It was and is a gift. A gift of Love. Of Life. Rich, fertile, muddy, and triumphant. A life and love that continues even now.
I extend my heart and my love to each of you here today. I share my story today in hope it helps you in some way. I believe it is in sharing our memories, the pain and most especially the daring to share these gifts, even in this, that healing resides. When we listen to one another, even if you’ve heard the story before, we heal. You are not alone.
None of us really walk this path alone. None of us here nor those who have not yet qualified to be here, will escape this experience. My message today is not only to acknowledge and to honor it, but to remind each of us to remember, hidden sometimes deep in the anguish and pain, sometimes subtly within the numbness, and most often when we’re in a moment of forgetting about it all, a gift emerges. My message is to look for and to welcome the gifts.
Consider that we’re all just really walking each other home. And the only thing that matters along this journey is the love shared. The love given and received. And sometimes love’s lessons aren’t idyllic, but are rather cryptic and mysterious, and that’s okay too.
Today a seed is planted in our heart. A seed that there is at least one and possibility many gifts yet to be revealed. That even in this there is somehow found a gift. Commit to let it come to you in some way. Begin to be willing to receive it. Look for it and expect it.
I invite you to embrace what you are experiencing. I remind you to be gentle with yourself. I invite you to let an inner voice remind you: “It’s going to be okay. YOU are going to be okay.” Please remember that the way you go through this is uniquely yours and to be ever so gentle with yourself. Just around the corner there is a gift … A Gift of Love.
I speak a blessing upon all of you here. May you sense and know that you are not alone. May the knowing of your heart embrace, or be willing to embrace, the eternality of your loved one’s life … as well as your own.
May you plant a seed, right where you are, that you will look for the gifts. May you experience these gifts in your everyday life. May you experience a shift in your ideas, perhaps a release of some idea held tightly. May you experience a touch of the heart of love that never ends, that continues to love you right where you are. May you hear a sweet whisper in your ear that, “All is Well!”
God bless and keep you. Love bless and keep you.
We let this be.
Love & Blessings,
Rev. Claudia Tambur
Senior Minister & Spiritual Leader
Unity of Toledo Spiritual Center