By Jack Rudloe
Anne Rudloe, my wife of 42 years died of cancer on April 27th 2012, and there are hints and vapors that she has returned to us. I have never been a religious person, nor have I bent towards spirituality. I’ve always thought there was some sort of God out there somewhere, but that our concept of what He, She or It is was beyond my grasp. Trying to understand what God is, is like a bacterium trying to conceive an elephant. I’ve attended my share of funerals, and looked at the empty shell of the deceased lying in the coffin, and heard ministers preaching in all knowing voices and thinking to myself that whatever happens to you when you die remains the best kept secret in the Universe.
My life has always been one of discovery and so was hers. For the past seven years after Anne was diagnosed with cancer, we had many discussions about whether or not there is life after death. As a Zen Buddhist and a scientist, she took on the subject, reading everything written, studying near death experiences, the bible and other great religious works. Based on endless data she firmly believed that something lives on after life fades away. To me when life ended you went zippo, and disappeared into a vast eternal nothingness, but I was never firm in that belief, nor would I ever call myself an atheist. Life and death is one in the same, an endless circle of emerging and fading life. It makes no sense that the life force vanishes for fish, flies or humans and does to replace itself, because rebirth follows so quickly.
When my wife ceased breathing, with my two sons present, I felt and saw nothing, yet our dog immediately sat up, looking at empty part of the room wagging her tail, as if she were greeting someone. Yet no one was there, and after a few minutes she lay back down. Perhaps she felt or saw her presence, animals have special powers that we don’t, but she never exhibited such behavior before or since.
In the days that followed people have told me that they sensed her presence, so much so that I am beginning to believe that there really is a spirit world. I have not, perhaps because the pain is so great and we were so close. But in my book “evidence’ has appeared and I am going to share that evidence with you in the form of an email that came from Natalie Bjorklung who lives in Canada and was one of our closest friends. She is an excellent scientist with a brilliant mind, who just happens to see ghosts. Six hours after Anne slipped away I telephoned her and her and her husband Richard Gordon to share my shock and pain. Days later, she sent me the following email dated Friday, May 4, 2012 and gave me her permission to share it.
So here it is:
Subject: The visit.
After we spoke on the telephone last, I did experience something. It was largely outside of my usual such experiences and so I have been hesitating about sharing it and trying to mull it over to get it into words. Since the image won’t go away but remains powerful and real, I have decided I should share it. You have never laughed at me and my seeing ghosts and it is only a positive experience and therefore probably okay to share. I am also under the impression I will be required to continue to experience the images over and over again until I do tell you.
After I hung up the telephone, I started thinking about the last time I saw Anne and how I hugged her and how much I hoped it would not be the last time I could hug her. After speaking to you, the reality that she was gone hit me very hard and I started crying. I was too distraught to work and so I started digging in the fridge to make something for supper and wash the dishes. I clean and cook when I am upset. Understand I was in the depths of grief and weeping heavily.
Suddenly, I was washed over with over whelming joy, very difficult to describe, as near as what I can call pure joy. I stopped crying and I shared this intense joy. I laughed with it and I felt flooded all over my whole body with it. I did not see a ghost, rather, I felt a presence. The presence was “thin” is how I would describe it, so thin and so translucent it really did not have a form at all but rather was more akin to a shimmering prismatic rainbow, not unlike the way gasoline on water sitting over pavement looks but against a gleaming white background instead of black. Also moving constantly, flowing and not static. It was here and around and spreading in and out of the trailer. Think of a vapor or fog moving at very hide speed.
The presence shared images with me. Foremost I saw a flashing image of a stunningly beautiful beach. Tropical, with a fully glorious azure sky above and somewhat darker but clear rich blue below. The sands were not white but rather sort of pale beige to brown almost but not quite reddish, with lots of black specs. The ocean was teeming with life. The beach was on the edge of a lagoon with a reef in distance very far out, breakers on the reef, and coral. I sensed she had just been there at that beach and she was delighting in the fact that she could move anywhere in an eye blink if she wished from the tops of the coconut palms to lower reaches of the coral reef. She sang to me
“I am free, I am free, I am free,” in such absolute pure joy and unfortunately very hard to describe. Images not words.
I asked how she had found me and she imaged she had left the beach sensing you were going to call me and she had been right beside you, kind of back over your shoulder, when we talked on the telephone and she had simply followed the energy that had transmitted my voice back to the source. This quite remarkable feat had been as easy as thinking of it. It was not unlike teleporting in Second Life. She then whirled up and around the trailer and swept through the nearby trees, little trails of herself like tendrils of fog and one tip leaned over and kissed one of the little juncos in the tree on the top of the head and another reached up to feel sunlight before she swept back in singing again “I am free, I am free, I am free.” It was a demonstration of her state for me to experience.
I spoke out loud, “Okay you are free and that’s all very fine and I’m glad. But I can’t share with Jack just that. It makes no sense. This is not like any of my other experiences. What am I going to say so he knows this is real and not made up, like something I imagined to try to make him feel better?”
Her reaction was to abruptly gather her spread out thin wispy self without form and for a nearly full second take a form more like her in real life. She had on a red shirt of some type, relaxed with an open throat and bell sleeves with a bit of embroidery on the edges, very dark navy blue jeans and flat heeled sensible black shoes. She said clearly in words, “Tell him ‘My nose is fixed.’ ” Within the context of this whole lack of body form and ethereal freedom flights, it was such a ridiculous understatement that we both laughed at it.
Then she dissolved back to thin rainbow and left. I sensed her for a few moments circling the trailer park, kissing birds on the head again, one little junco felt her too and he burst into trilling song at her touch, and she was stroking the very tiny leaf buds before she was gone, racing off at fantastic speed, her tendrils darting between the blades of dead prairie grass, on her way south over the plain to go and see the Badlands. Her last thought to me was to tell you not to rush to join her.
And that is it. Not my usual experience, nor a standard ghostly visitation.
This is somewhat the style of the shirt but with only a little embroidery at the neck and sleeves and the shape somewhat closer to a feminine shape, far less baggy and not so shiny, a plain cotton.
On 2012-05-04, at 4:01 PM, Jack Rudloe wrote:
It’s now been one week. At this time last week, Cypress, Sky, Miranda and Alyssa were headed out in the boat. I told the undertaker to wait until we were out of sight before taking her away. I figure Anne died around 2 PM. She had a terrible time the night before with lots of pain from the catheter which did not abate when it was removed. Morphine, in the small doses given her did not good, and finally the Hospice nurse gave her something else so she could rest—another dose of stronger morphine with another name. She had a breathing problem, gasping briefly for breath until she went quickly and mercifully to sleep. Her color faded, her breath became shallower, my two sons and I held her hand as she slipped quietly away. The Hospice nurse had gone home, and we called her back. We didn’t know she was gone, until the nurse came back with the stethoscope, and shook her head, and we exploded into tears.
Hospice was wonderful, they arranged for the funeral home to come. We didn’t want to see them take her away, so we took the boat to Mash’s Sands, went past her horseshoe crab beaches where she had done her studies on them, watched dolphins jumping and pelicans diving, and finally returned. Anne was gone, and thank God my staff at Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, Victor, Tom and Debbie had all the Hospice stuff, bed, walker, potty chair, oxygen concentrators and bottles removed and packed in the beauty shop. We went out to Angelo’s for dinner, and they refused to take any money when they learned what had just happened, and so on April 27th the first day had passed.
I was expecting, or hoping that she’d make an appearance to me, but she never did. I was and am too broken up maybe. But Ed Lyon, the Methodist minister who she worked with as a Hospice volunteer months ago, told me that Anne came to him a dream, looking beautiful and serene and thirty years old, and kissed him on the forehead saying not to worry, that everything was okay, and she was fine. Anne wasn’t much into kissy stuff, so I thought that might be wishful thinking, but after reading your account, I wonder. The same day Cypress felt a wispy presence at one point, and saw a wild turkey and a chick walk before him, so I know she’s been around even though I can’t see her. I’m not sure I can say that I really feel her as others have, I’m either numb, and bawling, walking through the woods and screaming at God or whatever. Anyway now it’s Friday a week later, but if it were last week at this time we’d be returning to the dock.
This afternoon I went back out trawling with Cypress, Victor and Doug to catch sting rays, and I lay on the bow looking up at spectacular clouds on a beautiful clear day. Somehow I felt her presence, but when we came back to the dock, suddenly the air was filled with eagles and ospreys. The eagle was stealing a fish from the osprey, there were screeches and calls, and dive bombs right in front of us in the most dramatic and unusual manner. Clearly it felt orchestrated.
Everything Anne did was on a check list. Get the book out, get it on Kindle, get the blog, do the email lists, amidst growing fatigue, and then when the work was finished and the fatigue turned to pain, die. She did that and fairly quickly. I’m working with the Unitarian minister for the memorial next Sunday, and she has it all outlined on the computer except the date. It says date:????????????????????????????????????
So your account sounds right on. She was looking forward to the great adventure, and now she’s found it. So thank you for sharing your observations and feelings. It’s a great gift to see ghosts and feel them. Meanwhile we are trying to cope.
I sent Natalie another email a few hours later that said,
Further, that’s the kind of shirt that she was fond of. Anne liked costumes and bought medieval reenactment dresses and blouses whenever she could. Now, I did tell you that three days, or maybe four or even five, before she died, she had been sitting on the couch for several days, unable to get up without assistance, then when the phone rang and she knew it was a Hospice nurse trying to get directions, she got up to go for the phone, fell flat on her face, damaged her nose and had a nasty nose bleed. I was in the tub at the time, and Cypress was with her and flipped out, yelling for me to get out of the tub. We got her up, and she had a sore nose for several days, and early in the day that she died, she had a nose bleed again. So did you know that? Let’s be scientific about this, because if you didn’t , I’d have to say “oh wow!”
Oh wow, Jack then it makes sense. No, I absolutely did not know she had hurt her nose. I had no idea at all. Nor did I know about the shirts as I never saw in such a shirt. Okay, I accept I did not imagine it and she came and saw me on purpose. There is life beyond. She has given us a glimpse of it.
Natalie wrote me several days later asking if I had contemplated suicide because her last thought to me was to tell you not to rush to join her. The answer is no, but during her long illness over the past seven years she contantly urged me to keep on living, so I could help Cypress and Sky, and go with the mission of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, which we started so long ago.
Then another close friend sent me the following email:
I had a dream about Anne last night. Here it is:
You David and I rented a cottage at the beach. Very blue water and very white sand. We spent the days reading, walking, and paddling about in a small metal boat. We talked about how much Anne would have liked it.
I awoke on a crystalline white beach on one side of those beach erosion fences. Anne was on the other side of the fence. I cried and crawled towards her. She was wearing a brilliant turquoise flowing dress that I have seen her wear before. She waved, smiled and said she was OK. We smiled at each other and she walked on.
It was pleasant, it was Anne.
I feel blessed,