So, this morning, I was lying lazily in bed with my ipad mini, checking emails and facebook, and came across someone who wanted to “friend” me. Okay. I checked to see where “Barda” lived. Aaah. Helena, Montana. Probably a friend of my fellow UFO buff, Joan Bird. For some reason, unknown to me (I rarely do this), I started scrolling down through her posts. Then. WOW! This:
So Barda found me, not through Joan, but through the book, This Vast Being: A Voyage through Grief and Exaltation, about the first year that I spent, alone and in a new town, after my husband Jeff died in January 2003, in what I called even then, “conscious grieving.” I collected the writings from that year and published them as a book seven years ago. I had hoped to get the book into the hands of those who suffer fresh grief. Though it won an award from USA Book News, and though it featured a (apparently rare) endorsement by Jean Shinoda Bolen on the front cover—
Ann, explorer and witness to psychic, synchronistic, astrological and psychological links between inner psyche, outer reality and invisible realms, portrays a marriage that continued after death to encompass these realms and their differences. A remarkable narrative.
— the book did not “take off,” except in a very narrow way. I still have maybe 2000 copies in my basement. And I have been wondering, ever since, how to get them into the hands of those who would appreciate them. (Please let me know if you want to purchase one, or if you have ideas about how to get it out there. . .)
Several months ago, I sent a copy to a new friend, Ted, who emailed me later that he felt “besotted,” after reading it. In conversation with him recently, he explained that this was the first time he could actually feel the living texture of the experience of grief as a daily process. That it helped him enormously.
Interesting that, like Barda’s facebook mention, this personal endorsement came seven years after publication, one quarter of one Saturn cycle.
But: the bigger news, and this is HUGE, is that my son Sean, in whose Massachusetts home the book has been sitting on the shelf unread for seven years, called me yesterday, on Memorial Day, to tell me that he had just finished reading This Vast Being. WHAT? Interesting that he read it right around the time of his 50th birthday, and interesting once again, in the context of seven years.
Even more interesting, is that Sean read the book during his “Chiron return.” Chiron is a little known body that makes its first cycle at 50-51 years and is generally thought of as the planet that signifies “both the wound and the healing of the wound.”
Sure enough, what makes this huge, is that his reading of the book ignited his need to understand his own wounded childhood, since so much of it remains lost to him.
Sean buried his memories; my younger son Colin reacted to the same difficult situation they found themselves in by doing the opposite, becoming hyper-aware. (Sean reminded me that Colin actually remembers the layout of our Peabody Terrace apartment in Cambridge Mass, from which we moved when he was six months old!).
Patrick and I fought constantly in the late ’60s until I spread my newly feminist wings and finally left him in 1970. Two years later, I became the first woman I had ever known to leave her children with their father, when I moved from Massachusetts to California, where I had been offered a teaching position at the newly formed New College of California. (One year later I was fired as “too experimental” from that experimental school, which disbanded in 2010.) My sons were five and seven years old when I wrenched them from me to go explore my own nature.
We would see each other during the summers, for a month or two, usually wherever I had temporarily landed in the west, sometimes at a friend’s home near Boston, but the visits were always fraught, since the boys knew they’d be leaving soon, and their father hated me, and they felt utterly divided, down the middle, between their parents.
That lasted until they were 14 and 12 years old, when I told them, during our visit, that they were free to choose to remain with me, or not. That it was time for them to begin to make their own choices. Sean chose to return to Massachusetts (and, I suspect, his predictable life, his friends). Colin wanted to stay with me. But when Patrick discovered that I had given them this choice he was furious, said he “would send the U.S. Marshall to pick them both up, and that he would make sure that they never saw me again.”
That’s the kind of relationship we had while Patrick was alive. (He died right after 9/11, and three weeks later, I could feel him begin to change; to the point where, when a psychic called out of the blue to tell me she had a message from the father of my children, “did he pass?” Yes, one year ago. “Well, he wants to let you know that he’s sorry. That you were right.” Those were her very words, but they didn’t surprise me. I already knew.)
When they were young, after several more years of tense talking on the phone in their tiny home with no privacy, I finally decided that it was best for them if I disappeared completely from their lives until they were out of Patrick’s household. That the tension, for them, was simply too great to bear.
This is the kind of thing I was telling Sean, on the phone yesterday, and much else, of course, including the circumstances that surrounded my decision, after a booming voice told me, in no uncertain terms, “You must finish your personal karma by the end of the year,” during the Harmonic Convergence in August 1987 while twirling in a giant ceremonial yurt like a Sufi. I knew the voice was directing me to “go see Patrick,” so that I could get back together with my boys, who were now 22 and 20 years old. The story of that five-hour meeting is extraordinary though I won’t detail it here. It may be in the book —I don’t remember.
What struck Sean most, I think, about the book, were all the uncanny, multidimensional experiences, experiences which, until he read it (or, until his Chiron, in psychic Pisces, returned for the first time), he would have poo-pooed.
Our conversation lasted 45 minutes, with him asking questions, and me doing my best to answer them. To let him know what it had been like for me, as a 20-year-old girl, to find herself pregnant, and then marry a man who she did not love, but who excited her mentally, and with whom she had great sexual rapport. “My pregnancy with you, ” I told him, though conceived in “guilt,” turned out to be a time in my life when I felt most at home in my body. I loved the experience of being pregnant, of feeling the universe operate according to its own laws, using my body as its vessel. “Then, your birth!” I told him, “despite that it was in a hospital under glaring lights, I did use natural breathing methods, was not drugged, and “your emergence from between my legs triggered my own spirituality, a recognition that the universe is utterly mysterious and that creation is at its heart.”
“That first year with you,” I told him, “was wonderful. I felt completely bonded with you. I knew you. I had always known you. Though I was already feeling trapped in my life, I had you as consolation. You were a very loving baby, and a very deep soul. I could feel our contract with each other, and caring for you felt utterly natural.”
But, can you tell my sadness in the photo above? It was as if my real life, my freedom-loving, exploratory Sagittarian life, was on hold. By the time I found myself pregnant a second time, despite using birth control, I felt like my real life had been hijacked.
By the time he was six years old, Sean would turn to me one day, and say, in a voice not his own, “The man in you hates the mommy.”
Yes, though I had my Moon in earthy, security seeking Taurus, and thus bonded with my Taurus child, the larger part of me was and is Sagittitarian, indeed a double Sagittarian, with Mars in that masculine sign as well. And yes, the man in me, hated the mommy. It would take decades for me to balance and integrate the two. Now, my Sagittarian self writes this exploratory, multidimensional blog and my Taurus self revels in the GANG garden. Both.
Sean did not get what he needed when young. By the time he was five years old, when I left his father, his eyes had glazed over, and he would spend hours sitting on the couch with his thumb in his mouth, staring. I told him this yesterday. And went on: “You were like a bear cub. You needed three full years with your mother. You didn’t get them. Instead you got only one year. As a Taurus (five planets in that sign), you needed to feel safe and secure. Instead, your parents were fighting, and our home life was further torn up in the ’60s revolutionary energies (which both boys came in on, with the Uranus/Pluto conjunction in their natal charts).
Yes, I was ripe for the feminist movement, ripe for devouring, when Sean was still a baby, Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, and its “problem that has no name.”
When I left, and they came to see me in the summers, you can feel my determination to be “happy,” and their bewilderment.
Here’s a shot from the summer when I foolishly gave them the choice that set us all back six long years.
So, if Memorial Day is for memories, and for healing of old old wounds, then mine was a beautiful, heartbreaking holiday. No. Holy Day. It was truly a Holy Day that left me utterly, besottingly, grateful.
P.S. For what’s going on with our little family now, see