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Christopher Foster

The Day I Lost My Wife
by Christopher Foster

About ten years ago, as I was flying home to British Columbia, Canada, with my first wife, Joy, a calamity occurred. With about an hour to go before we landed in Vancouver, Joy suffered a stroke. Rushed to a hospital upon our arrival, she died a few hours later without ever regaining consciousness. The following is the first chapter from a journal, which I began writing shortly after her death on December 15 1991, as a way to try to deal with the huge tangle of emotions that her loss summoned in me. As you will see, the main theme which kept reverberating in my mind and heart was a sensing that although we had been separated physically, Joy and I were still one in spirit. Even though now, eleven years later, I have re-married and have started a new life in the United States, that sense of connection with the angel I knew as Joy is still a reality for me. There is a saying in The Song Celestial that goes something like this: "Birthless, deathless and changeless remaineth the Spirit forever; death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems."

The Raven Who Spoke with God

Grief is unavoidable when we are bereaved, and we shouldn’t even try to avoid it. We ignore the need for real grieving at our peril. And yet, paradoxically, I have discovered that grief can be mitigated and even transformed when there is a sensing of the eternal nature of spirit.

Here’s the extract from my journal:


The word was breathed out through parched lips that only a day or two earlier had laughed and smiled and loved but now were stuffed with tubes and devices and were losing quickly the resilience and soft rippling of life. They were still beautiful though; your lips still carried their exquisite, familiar shape, they were still expressing you.

It was the only word you spoke as you lay in a coma in the emergency ward of Richmond General Hospital, in Vancouver, British Columbia, the line between life and death rushing up fast, though at this point my brain had still not registered exactly how fast.

I must have sensed that you wished to speak.

I had leaned forward and bent my head down so as to be close. My eyes gazed intently upon you, and my ear was close to your parched lips with their cargo of tubes.

I heard the word that whispered forth into the fragile ether of that busy place with the lives of many bubbling and revolving over the spit of a roasting fire.

We had been in the Caribbean. We had found a place in the sun to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. But as we flew home to British Columbia from Toronto on the last leg of our journey an invisible hand reached out and touched you and said it was time to finish your stay on earth.

We were about an hour out of Vancouver. How shall I forget standing in the aisle of the aircraft beside you, the wrench from one dimension to another, the sudden fierce separation, the way your head rolled on its neck as you looked up at me and then away, the way your eyes saw me but did not see me, the way your ears heard but did not hear as I called and called softly, incessantly, urgently, trying to reach you, trying to awaken us both from a nightmare. My life had shifted 180 degrees and I did not even know it.


The word was no louder than a piece of silk falling from a high building but it went through me like a charge of electric current and left me stunned and confused.

Where did the strength come from to utter that solitary word to your husband as we stayed locked in a final whirling conclusion to our 25 years together?

At first I thought you were trying to say that you wanted to be taken out of this foreign place, this war zone of bright lights and white-uniformed nurses and busy comings and goings, back to the small rural town where we lived.

Then I perceived a more sublime meaning in your whisper. You wished me to know that all was well and that you were safely returned to a place of love and light where pain does not exist and where identity is eternal. You wanted to comfort me. You were also, I realized later, giving me a clue, an intimation important to my future.

In the course of our married life you often helped me with your gifts of wisdom and understanding. This cry echoing from another dimension, a different world, was but a continuation of that cycle of sharing which we had known as husband and wife.

You died a few hours later. As I watched the breath slowly go out of you, I kissed you two or three times on your forehead to say good-bye and savor the last little bit of warmth and love. Finally the oscillating green lines on the computer screen grew faint and stopped. There was silence in the small room. The wonderful Australian nurse looked up and said simply, ‘God’s got her.’ I hugged the nurse, thankful for her compassion.

There was going to be a lot of work to do in the days and months ahead, the work of grieving, making arrangements, and handling this drastic shift in my life. As I left the hospital with two friends I knew there was another task ahead of me too. I was going to find out whether it was true—something I had believed in for many years—that there is within each person an essence that does not die.

I was not going to abandon my friendship with the being I had known so intimately; an angel named Joy.

I was going to explore further that "home’ of which she spoke.

And that is what has happened. Certainly, my connection with Joy is not as vivid as it was for a few years immediately following her departure, but it is still there. And I know from experience that if I need to call upon her, to summon the aid of that precious spirit, she will answer my call. It was Shakespeare who wrote, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy." I’m here to say it’s true, it’s true.

© Copyright 2002 Christopher Foster. All Rights Reserved.

Christopher Foster
Christopher Foster.
Born in 1932 in London, England, Christopher Foster started work as a reporter on a South London weekly newspaper at age 17, following in the steps of his father, a longtime British journalist. At age 18 he left home to see the world. He lived for two years in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and worked as a laborer and reporter in New Zealand before returning home to the UK.

After a two year spell as a reporter with the London Daily Express, Foster emigrated to Canada in 1955. A longtime spiritual search led him to a spiritual community in 100 Mile House, British Columbia, known as The Emissaries, where he lived for over 30 years. During this time he was editor of the local weekly newspaper and later initiated a worldwide newsletter named Integrity which took him and his first wife, Joy, on travels all over the world.

In 1984 Foster wrote his first book, a novel entitled Bearers of the Sun. He followed this with a biography, two books of poems, and a second novel, Winds Across the Sky. His latest book, The Raven Who Spoke With God, was published in September 2001. It is a story of a young raven who overcomes grief and fear as he pursues his dream to be a friend and ally to humankind. "Buoyant as the air through which the birds soar, the story lifts the heart and carries it, dancing lightly, all the way through to the end," said NAPRA ReView. "This is a book you will read and then instantly think of ten friends to whom it must be lent." Bob Spear, at Heartland Reviews, has recommended The Raven for Booksense, saying, "It reminded me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull in the Rockies."

Phone: (970) 461-0632. Email: Chris@SingingSpiritBooks.com. Website: www.SingingSpiritBooks.com.


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