If we are proficiently self-aware and honest with ourselves, most if not all of us have deep-rooted fears in one form or another and for the majority of us these fears play a relatively minor part in our everyday life and if we’re lucky these anxieties needn't cause us too many problems or distress. But for a small minority, these fears can cause a major disruption to their overall happiness, freedom and lifestyle. Bringing me to a very sad but inspirational story that I would like to share with you today in the hope that like myself, you will find some inspiration and support from this quirky twist of fate.
Sandra, a now good friend of mine, was the eldest of two siblings, having a younger brother John who she simply adored. As is often the case with siblings, in many respects you couldn't have two more contrasting individuals. For unlike her brother, Sandra was a rather fearful and timid soul, a very reserved and anxious individual who would prefer to blend into the background and spend enormous amounts of time quietly alone in her bedroom on her computer, while John was quite the opposite, the adventurous one who was always out and about having lots of fun, known by everyone, self-assured and carefree. But as time developed, it was becoming increasingly obvious to those who knew Sandra that she was becoming a little too isolated, which eventually became the start of her depression, developing into a deep-seated fear of leaving her house, a condition known as Agoraphobia. As you can imagine her family and friends would try to no avail to encourage Sandra to seek professional help and support for this seriously limiting condition, which was affecting every aspect of her life, from the simple task of collecting her children from school, doing the weekly grocery shopping, seeking medical attention for her children and self, to the simple task of attending her children's Christmas school productions and parents evenings. Duties and tasks that the majority of us would take simply for granted, but for Sandra were near impossible.
Like many new couples, John decided to take his beautiful girlfriend on a trip of a lifetime before they settled down to have children, a carefully planned trip that would take them all over Europe, and as you can imagine the whole family including Sandra was absolutely thrilled that her younger brother was finding his way in life and helped him to plan the perfect holiday, a trip that she could only dream about doing if she was free from the trappings of her phobia.
All was going well with her brothers holiday until about six days into their vacation when Sandra received an unexpected text from Linda, her brothers girlfriend, letting her know that they were making their way to a local hospital as her brother was feeling unwell. As you can appreciate Sandra was very worried and having spoken to their parents tried to phone Johns girlfriend for several hours for updates, but as is so often the case at these times Sandra was unable to get through. By now Sandra was becoming extremely anxious and began to feel rather unwell herself, and no sooner had her parents arrived at her home to see how they could help, that she received a telephone call on her landline. “Is that you Sandra?” the voice on the other side cried, “It’s me Linda”, followed by an inconsolable scream down the phone, “It’s John, he's dead, the doctors said he’s had a massive brain haemorrhage, I'm so scared Sandra and don’t know what to do, I need you, I’m at the local hospital in Costa del Sol” and proceeded to give Sandra all the info needed to meet her at the hospital as soon as possible. As you can imagine Sandra's world came crashing down with a firm thud, trapped in a furious whirlwind of shock, grief and utter panic, for she knew she just couldn’t go. For Sandra hadn’t stepped one foot over her doorstep for almost six years, and no matter how important, emergency or not, she just couldn’t find the strength to go to attend her brothers and girlfriends needs, despite her obvious wishes and need, pushing Sandra into a panic attack, followed by utter exhaustion and a long protracted episode of depression that could typically last for weeks on end.
Yet despite her wishes and desire to attend to her brothers needs, tragically, but understandably she had to decline and reluctantly requested that another family member should go instead. As you can imagine this absolutely devastated Sandra, but this was only the beginning as a few days later she would be confronted with the biggest challenge yet. For how on earth would she manage to attend her brother's funeral? Pushing Sandra to the very edge, as she was now getting grief from all directions while battling her inner demons that have progressively confined Sandra to the four walls of her modest little house.
Now here's the remarkable part of this sad but inspirational story. Like many deaths that sadly happen abroad, it took several weeks to get Johns body back to the UK, and what happened in those few weeks simply transformed the life of Sandra and her family forever.
While Sandra was understandably feeling stressed and unwell, with the love and support of her family, fortunately, she was able to help her parents with the arrangements of her brothers funeral. No doubt on reflection helping her to cope with her crushing grief and mounting guilt that was beginning to affect every aspect of Sandra’s health and well-being, including her rest. As she was not sleeping properly, she would spend hour upon hour chatting to friends all over the world on her computer, and it’s during this time that many would describe as a miracle happened. On completion of her nightly chat, she was preparing to close down her PC before retiring to bed, when she experience what she can only describe as a powerful spiritual connection with her deceased brother. In an incident that she described as lasting no more than a few minutes, she experienced a powerful light filling her mind, similar to the light seen on the most pleasant and glorious summers day, with an overwhelming feeling of her brother's presence, followed with a rush of emotions and sensations that she believed perfectly captured her brother's personality and essence, including a strong aroma that Sandra said matched her brothers aftershave exactly, a recognisable scent as she bought John that exact aftershave on his last birthday only a few weeks earlier, along with a powerful feeling that her younger brother was stood right beside her, accompanied with her brothers voice that she say’s reverberated in her very soul, “I’m absolutely fine sis,” an endearing phrase that he always used. “know that I love you all, and stop worrying, for I'm happy and fine. Now get up and get out and enjoy your life”, accompanied by an overwhelming feeling that was indescribably intense, but incredibly loving, and for the first time for many years, almost instantaneously seemed to move Sandra’s mind into the mindset of change and possibilities. Almost immediately, Sandra leapt to her feet and rushed to the front door and in a flash of utter ecstasy and inspiration ran out of the door to the garden gate and collapsed in a heap of confusion to what exactly had just happened. In utter disbelief at what she has just achieved and embarrassment as a passer-by asked her if she was okay. “I’m fine” she tearfully replied and broke down and sobbed for almost an entire hour in her husband's arms.
What exactly happened on that highly charged evening, like all issues of a spiritual nature is open to debate. But personally, like Sandra and her family, I believe that her brother simply reached forward beyond the vale of heaven to lovingly embrace those he most cherished and loved, to bring comfort, solace and healing, through the infinite and indestructible energy of love, and you will be pleased to learn that not only did Sandra go to her brother's funeral, but inspirationally she is now living a normal and happy life with her husband and family. Enjoying a life that she undoubtedly believes received a blessing and healing from God, under the petition of her beloved brother, who she believes is lovingly watching over the entire family in his old familiar and loving way.