Over the summer, my son’s pet rabbit died. My five-year-old granddaughter loved to visit Toulouse every time she came over, and as far as I’m aware, it was her first brush with death.
We’ve had many talks about death. She loves seeing pictures of my parents and grandmother and has asked many questions about them. My daughter and I have shared stories about them with her and have told her many times that we wish they could have met her because they would have loved her. My dad was the only one who lived long enough to meet her. Their lives overlapped by about nine months.
I’ve explained to her that my parents and grandmother got old, and their bodies stopped working. But they were/are more than just their bodies. Although we can’t see their bodies anymore, we still can connect with their essence and continue to have a relationship with them, through the “telephone of the heart”.
And then there’s the telephone of the wind, which is an actual, physical phone that a Girl Scout troop installed in a local park over the summer. It’s based on an old-fashioned telephone booth placed in Otsuchi, Japan after the tsunami hit ten years ago, to stay connected with loved ones who passed away. The telephone isn’t connected to anything, but it provides a quiet space for private, heartfelt conversation and an opportunity to say the goodbyes and words that were left unsaid when the person was alive. Or to have ongoing conversations.
Ever since hearing about the telephone of the wind, my granddaughter has wanted to go there to talk to Toulouse. But rain kept getting in the way of our plans. This week, she asked again, and we finally made it happen. It was supposed to be an opportunity for her to talk to the bunny, but it ended up being much more.
The phone is an old-fashioned rotary model like I remember from my childhood. I showed my granddaughter how to find the numbers and turn the dial. Then she picked up the phone and started talking to the bunny.
When she was done talking, I taught her how to be quiet and still and to listen for any words or notice any pictures or feelings that might arise in her heart. It was easy and natural for her to do. Then she gave the phone to me so I could talk to the bunny and share memories.
After ending that call, she asked if I wanted to call my parents. Normally, I use the telephone of my heart for that purpose, and it works really well. But I decided to take her cue and try something different.
The phone looked just like the one in the corner of my grandmother’s kitchen, from which I made phone calls when I was growing up. I put my index finger into the circles that called my home phone number when I was a child – the number my parents had for the rest of their lives. I felt an unexpected sense of anticipation and a wave of emotion that brought tears to my eyes. Visceral memory. I explained to my granddaughter they were tears of gratitude because I was thankful for having such loving parents.
After dialing all the numbers, it was as if I was waiting for them to answer.
I started talking. Through thankful tears, I told them I missed them, even though I loved being able to talk with them through my heart.
Earlier that day, I discovered a baby mouse in my car. After removing the mouse, I realized I hadn’t vacuumed my car over the summer as intended. So that was something I needed to do. I remembered how my dad used to vacuum my car. If I visited my parents and went for a walk or ran an errand with my mom in her car, he would seize the opportunity to vacuum my car and fill up my gas tank. It was his language of love.
It’s been more than five years since the last time he did that, and I realized how much I miss and appreciate his car-related acts of caring. Nobody else has ever done that for me.
So that’s what I said into the telephone of the wind. I told him how much I appreciate that he did that.
I also told my parents I had my granddaughter with me, and they would love her so much. I asked her if she wanted to talk with them, and she said yes. So she got on the phone and introduced herself and told them the things she thought they would love about her.
When she handed the phone back to me, I told them I’d say bye for now, but I always love talking with them through my heart and in dreams.
Before making another call, I told my granddaughter about the time I was really missing my mom, and then a flurry of heart-shaped cottonwood leaves rained down from the sky. That, too, was a response, I explained.
Then I picked up the phone to call my grandmother. I told her how much I miss her and how I appreciate her coming to me in a dream one time and giving me a present – all wrapped up and tied with a bow. I didn’t open the present in the dream, but when I woke up, I knew it was a camera. My parents had just given me a little money from the sale of her house, and I used it to buy my first entry-level DSLR camera.
It was arguably the best purchase I ever made.
I went on to describe how much photography means to me and to express my gratitude for the camera, which changed my life.
I also thanked my grandmother for being such a wonderful grandmother and said that by being so kind and loving to me, she taught me how to be a wonderful grandmother for my granddaughter.
I told her about my granddaughter and what she would love about her, and then my granddaughter got on the phone to introduce herself.
She ended with a question, and I actually heard the answer in my heart: my grandmother’s friendly voice, loud and clear. She loved children.
After we ended that call, we moved on to the next thing: the swings in another part of the park.
“Race ya!” my granddaughter exclaimed before taking off like a rocket. Naturally, she won. She always does.
Making those calls with her on the telephone of the wind was really gratifying. It was an opportunity to model out-loud a process you can go through when someone you love has passed away, to stay connected with them. With their essence, which is pure, unconditional love.
It felt like a very important thing to do. Someday when I have outgrown my body, I hope my granddaughter will talk to me like that and know how to listen with her heart and through synchronicity, to receive all the love that seeks her. I hope that will be many years from now so we can make many more beautiful memories together that will become part of her, and a way I will live on through her.
It’s such a beautiful thing to connect with your loved one’s essence, which is love. The love that always was there at the core, beneath the personality patterns that offer us the conflict and contrast we need to awaken and evolve and to expand the universe.
That’s how I’ve come to see it, anyway.
The telephone of the heart allows us to give and receive love. When we focus loving awareness on something or someone, we are attuned to the vibration of love and receptive to it. In this sense, anyone who has loved us or whom we have loved really and truly is part of us. With love, there is no distance or separation whatsoever.
I had no idea about this until after I lost my parents. It is one of the great blessings our deepest losses can reveal to us.
I dictated this whole story into my phone while taking a walk outdoors. When I got back in the car to drive home, I turned on the radio. The song playing was Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”:
If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I will be waiting
Time after time
I kid you not.
It was another response that resulted in another round of grateful tears.
Isn’t it amazing? Each and every one of us is part of a great, mysterious legacy of love. A web of love. I don’t know how it works, only that it exists.
© 2021 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.