I will be telling Briga’s tale over the week in this 3 part series ‘A Journey to the Spirit World’. My original decision to tell Briga’s Story of Spirit was at her request, as is this retelling 2 years from her death. I was not surprised when she poked at me earlier this week, insisting that I retell her story, and that it was important. I had been expecting it, as I had been interviewed earlier this year, by a woman doing her dissertation for her Doctorate on the Patient Choice and Control of End of Life Act (Act 39). I had felt Barbara’s presence strongly as I sat with the woman, sharing Barbara’s story with her, as I knew it.
I first met Barbara/Briga when I started my Druid training in 2008. She was in her 3rd & final year of training when I was in my 1st year. My first distinctive memory of Barbara was of her up to her armpits in the snow. The Druids (3rd year students) had been sent out to connect with nature while we the baby Bards (1st year students) were doing a guided meditation near the brook. It was early spring and there was still a great deal of snow. As we finished our work and began to walk up the road we spotted Barbara standing completely composed along the brooks bank. We were advised to keep walking and not pay attention to her as she must be in deep contemplation with Nature. It wasn’t until she casually called out for assistance that we all registered that she standing in snow up to her armpits. This composure was a strong characteristic of Barbara. She was a classy dame.
Barbara’s battle with Cancer first began with the loss of her breast. Like the warrior woman she was she stepped onto her path with courage and strength. She honored the breast she would loose in ceremony and prepared for her operation and treatment with a mind set on making the experience as sacred as possible. She insisted that the surgeons smudge the operating room before her surgery, giving them liquid smudge and instructions on how to prepare the room. She also created a CD of healing music she wanted to be played while she was under anesthesia, as she wanted her subconscious to be strengthened during the procedure. I sat watch with 2 of my fellow Druids while she underwent her surgery. After she was moved into recovery I was allowed to attend her. I felt a bit Roguish as I did Reiki on her and helped her take her homeopathic supplements. The one thing that was forever true about Barbara/Briga is that she was going to do it her way!
Over the next few years Barbara searched the corners of her soul, exploring herself and the world around her. She traveled to Ireland twice and took other trips to Maine, Florida and Arizona. She dyed her hair red and stepped fully into her magnificent self…preparing to becoming Briga. All the while she continued to work, and dealt with the fact that she was accompanied by the presence of her own Death, at all times. I believe she may have lived more in the years of her partnership with Death then she did in the majority of her life. For she fully, truly awake.
We all die, but not all of us truly live. We often spend our lives with inhibitions; worrying about next week, next year. But the reality is we never know how much time we are going to get. Sometimes I see Cancer and other slow roads to Death as a blessing. I know it sounds hard and bizarre, but knowing that our time is closing in removes the bullshit. It makes us realize we do not have limitless opportunities, it encourages us to talk truthfully to the people we love, and reminds us to enjoy the time we have. I know that slow death is generally painful and by no means am I demeaning the