The Day I Lost My
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."
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
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
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
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
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. 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
Phone: (970) 461-0632. Email: Chris@SingingSpiritBooks.com.
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