As the spring holiday approached, the not unfamiliar dread of being alone without any plans or built-in companions threatened to deepen my despair but I wouldn’t allow it much airtime. I found myself Sunday morning at a local women’s meditation retreat accompanied by a friend. As I walked towards the carefully designed and expensively built simple zendo it was the petite solo tulip tree with her huge lush royal magenta flowers that was the first to en-trance me. Next was the overflowing flower and vegetable gardens bursting with fresh color and fragrances as I wound through on the narrow cedar-shaving lined paths. The gentrified barn housed several gorgeous far-from-feral longhaired cats. Two huge koi, one a golden yellow, lazily swam the turtled pond. A powerful, well-groomed but gentle horse was roaming the grounds. I recognized the casually prettied-up shed on the far side of the garden from the email invitation that drew me to this idyllic slightly overcast Easter gathering.
As the meditation practices were coming to a close, I sensed, for the first time in three months that I might barely possess a sufficient quantity of courage to visit a long-time friend. Two days before I had authorized his entering into hospice care through email. I had awoken the morning of “signing day” feeling overwhelmed and chose, for my self-preservation, to remotely give the go ahead to this change in his care. My unusual friend had been existing in this “nursing home” in a nearby town since summer, however, it was a marked improvement over his last living situation. Yes, nurses served there but to refer to that drab institution with its decaying urine stench as a home was far-fetched.
I had only spoken to my friend on the phone twice since my partner died two months before. I was emotionally unable to visit him and face more sickness and death. When I had called Mick in early February, he immediately asked how Jeff was doing. My sweetheart had befriended Mick after meeting two years before. Jeff was intrigued by Mick’s spiritual insights. My partner, in turn, had helped Mick solve various electronic and practical issues when our aging friend was living in senior housing. Jeff also visited our infirm friend weekly for months after Mick had been shipped to this facility. out of town. Mick was distressed knowing my sweetheart, who was considerably younger, had been quite ill. “He died, Mick.” “Oh no,” he cried out, “that is horrible!,” and his generous expression of anguish soothed something in me.
The “home’s” social worker had called to tell me my friend was declining rapidly. I knew he was confused in the fall but he always recognized me when I came to visit. Now this bear of a man was consistently 350 pounds and hadn’t gotten out of bed for weeks. The brand-new synthesizer he had purchased with the money from the sale of his paint-stripped, malodorous and dandruff strewn gray Honda had never been played. I was impressed that my diabetic hand-trembling friend had successfully engaged the ombudsmen (with some coaching) to persuade the “health center’s” administrator to allow his sizeable synthesizer to be in his room. The space was now more crowded with his bed, cheap furniture, wheelchair, walker, commode and tattered belongings. The social worker made it clear the music equipment was her proverbial thorn.
I dreaded facing my friend’s death since my own yawning grief wounds were rendering me so fragile. On the other hand, I couldn’t bear the thought of him leaving this realm without one final visit. Timidly, I walked into his room noticing a different roommate. The new addition was thinner and more virile appearing than the previous one. This handsome slightly graying man was sleeping on his side, facing the door I had just entered with the white sheets pulled up mid-chest. I sensed sleep had been inspired to escape the odd situation of having an irregularly breathing stranger on the other side of the drab curtain.
I walked to the far side of the dim room wondering why the blinds were always closed. Their Russian immigrant nurse Elena followed me. As a nurse myself, I was impressed that Elena always seemed genuinely invested in my friend’s care.
Mick was lying on his back with his head slightly propped on the institutionally white pillow, staring blankly ahead towards where the wall and ceiling mate. “Oh no, he really is leaving!,” grabbed at my guts. Then I gratefully noticed his crisp linens and gown and finally he was well groomed. I approached his right and called “Mick, hi, it’s Vanita.” His head turned barely noticeable towards the familiar voice with eyes remaining unfocused. “Hi Sweetie,” he said. I knew he recognized me though I had never heard him use a term of endearment in the twenty-six years we had known each other.
Sadness flooded me. What can one say? “You are going home Mick. You are going to see God”. He nodded slightly and another wave of uninvited grief overtook me.
To the strict but compassionate nurse witnessing the intimate exchange I offered my excuse. “I couldn’t come before. With my partner dying I just couldn’t bear it”. Her skilled response eased my burden, “It is okay, you did what you could. You have been through a lot yourself. Yes, he is going home.” She seemed grateful that this obvious spiritual fact was being acknowledged. I had posted on Facebook and a local community website about Mick’s situation but had only gotten a handful of responses. “Have others come to visit him?,” guilt inquired. “No, just you”.
I doubt the staff had any idea what an advanced being Mick was or the secrets, good and bad, this clairvoyant knew about them. Mick was more evolved than I and he pointed this actuality out intermittently over the years with a very factual tone. He had guided people at psychic fairs on the West Coast with his creative and insightful readings. He was a gifted music channel proud that he had opened for the famous spiritual teacher Ram Das. I had never heard of music channeling before Mick made his debut in my life. This being’s greatest pleasure was to lazily stroll in the forest playing his silver flute while communing with Nature. He attempted several times to convey his light-filled visions but I could only grasp the edge of his perceptions and resultant bliss. Once when he endeavored to describe his experience of the “Eternally Swirling Eye of All Creation,” I was able to briefly glimpse the awe-inspiring enormity of God. Didn’t I realize that God was creating everything in existence in every moment?
I suspect we all often feel alone but Mick’s loneliness was extreme. He was born with a birth defect that resulted in violent projectile vomiting whenever he fed and he underwent major surgery at six weeks of age. He was severely neglected as a child with frequent bonding ruptures and an assortment of caretakers. His mother banished him to a military school at age 5 and his absent father barely tolerated him when he was around. My friend’s dismal socialization plagued him. Add his unique view of reality and his intuitive awareness of people’s hidden selves and he had a large load to cope with. Top this off with his beloved wife’s sudden car-wreck death in 1991 near their home. He was incapable of metabolizing this mountain of grief and never recovered.
I met him six months after the accident that he recounted incessantly for decades. His music, ecstatic spiritual experiences and increasingly infrequent readings were the only things that kept him inching along. His most reliable and comforting companion was the excess food that kept him sedated from the pain of years of inadequate meaningful human contact.
Though he had been briefly in the military and had attended college, Mick was unable to function in everyday practical matters. Showering regularly, wearing somewhat clean clothes or keeping his dwelling from smelling like a garbage dump were impossible tasks. Despite his shortcomings, he was a rare precious lifeline for me. He casually informed me one afternoon that my guiding essence in life was the “Heart of Love” and encouraged me to always follow it. Whenever I was upset and felt lost he would guide me to an expanded perspective and soothe me with divine wisdom. “How could someone so dysfunctional with so many unresolved issues be so clear and wise?,” I often wondered. Let me tell you about my introduction to this extraordinary, fascinating and complex human being.
I was deeply in love with a man Mick later announced was “my essence twin”, the closest of the soul connections and commonly referred to as a “twin flame”. My twin had met Mick the evening before and received a personal channeling that thrilled him. The next day he wanted to take me to the psychic musician’s home for a couple’s reading.
My twin warned that Mick was quite depressed since the trauma of the tragic accident. We arrived at the beautiful rural three-acre property with its respectable manufactured home. As the front door opened the smell of rotting garbage startled me. This huge man, 6 feet tall and well over 300 lbs, invited us in. He moved and spoke heavily but I was drawn to his deep resonant voice.
The home was filthy and Mick pointed out the garbage “zones” throughout the house. He was proud that the trash was contained in a myriad of large cone-shaped piles. The kitchen sink and counters were laden high with thickly crusted dishes, glasses, cups, pots, and pans with an array of dirty utensils strewn about. Dropped or carelessly discarded food was drying up everywhere including on the floor. He explained he hadn’t been able to keep the house up since the loss of the woman who was so dear to him.
The unkempt man ushered us into his bedroom to our left. “What do you want the reading to focus on?,” but before our reply formed he interjected, “don’t bother, most people are too stupid to know what to ask anyway.” Surprisingly I didn’t feel offended by this, later to be learned, very accurate observation.
The bedroom was cleaner and the odors less. His queen-size bed was elevated four feet off the ground and pushed up against the left and far wall; his black synthesizer faced the foot of the bed and the room was devoid of chairs. “Climb up on the bed,” he instructed. I scanned the sheets and deemed them clean enough to sit but first went to the adjoining bathroom which was another unbelievable scene.
Now we were seated on the cushy bed stage and Mick settled in behind the keyboard that happened to bear the uncommon name of my essence twin in big white block letters. I never expected the musician to casually invite, “Feel free to make love while I play.” Stunned, but eternally curious I asked, “Has anyone ever taken you up on that?” “Yeah”, mentioning the names of a couple we were acquainted with. Notably the vibe from him wasn’t perverse which struck me as even more odd. “Uh, we’ll just sit here”.
He began playing his silver flute while watching us. After the haunting opening he put the flute down and created a melody on the synthesizer that touched into the deepest part of me. He began his spontaneous song referring to me as “Anita” but despite that faux pas I was weeping with profound relief of finally being seen and known by another. He sang of an ancient bond and indescribable love between my essence twin and I. He sang of the joy of finding each other after many years of searching. He sang of my vibrantly colored strands of emotion that often got entangled and overwhelmed me. He sang how my twin would help me unravel them into something manageable and useful. “I can’t go on anymore,” he suddenly announced overtaken by a wave of pain. He abruptly pushed his wide slumped shoulders away from the keyboard ending my sorely needed influx of divine grace and I was hooked.
Our friendship grew and deepened but he never recovered from his soulmate’s death; she was not his essence twin he explained but another type of deeply fulfilling but less tumultuous soul connection. He lovingly spoke of her in most every conversation we ever had and clearly was idealizing her. I knew they were in the process of separating just before her death which he rarely remembered. About ten years ago he announced that part of her soul had reincarnated in Australia. During a vision he had seen her home and he gazed on the newborn through the window. He was comforted she was again on the planet with him.
I had numerous intriguing experiences with him as the years passed and also plenty of frustrating ones. His honed spiritual abilities were always dramatically contrasted by his inability to function in the world and his drug of choice, food, was doing him in. His undeveloped interpersonal skills constantly plagued his intermittent attempts at relationships. His wife had founded the popular local metaphysical bookstore with his support and they had been well known though now he was an almost forgotten hermit. By the time he entered the nursing home, he hadn’t seen his middle-aged daughter since she was a toddler, was estranged from his family and one by one managed to alienate most of his few friends.
Now it was time to leave him on this late Easter afternoon. I had been with my partner throughout his illness and only rarely left his side during the last week of his life so it felt really wrong to desert a dying friend in this bleak institution. But I needed to buy groceries for the week and attend a support group that would be able to console me. I was sitting in a chair on his left side. “Mick, I have to go”. Was that a nod? “You will be with Joan soon, you will be so happy to see her again. Mick, I love you”.
I knew from studying grief that saying goodbye to his physical form, saying farewell to the friendship we had shared was crucial. Our relationship was eternal but I also knew I needed to utter that powerful word while dreading the anguish that was sure to follow. I finally mustered my “goodbye,” but immediately copped out with “I will be back,” knowing that wasn’t feasible. Though his otherworldly stare continued the entire visit and he hadn’t spoken since his brief affectionate greeting, I was startled when he began whispering the last words I would ever hear him say. “It is so….. beautiful.”
“I am glad Mick, I am so glad,” and I knew he was okay.
Pierce Michael Zippert was prophetically born on April Fool’s Day. His body died March 31st, 2016. He would have been 74.