The word ‘death’ is harsh, final … and totally inaccurate

in Awakenings/Contributors/Health/Susan Stone by

By Susan Stone

Ever since I began writing this column, I have quoted my master teacher,  Rev. Marian Starnes, numerous times for her wisdom and humor.

On the Summer Solstice, she flew away HOME. Marian didn’t like to use the word “death.” She found it harsh and final and totally inaccurate. She had a lot of experience with what we call “death.”

In 1973, Marian died on the operating table during open heart surgery. The last thing she heard was; “We’re losing her!” She rose above the operating theater and observed the panic in the room as they readied the crash cart.

Completely at ease and uninterested in what the doctors were doing, she left. The feeling she described being out of the body was pure delight. She found herself in a green valley surrounded by mountains. It was familiar to her as the landscape she knew as a child growing up in Idaho.

In front of her appeared a bridge and on the other side of the bridge were her father and a little boy who had drowned when they were children, along with various animals she had loved through her life.

She was overjoyed to see them all, and when she attempted to cross the bridge, two men suddenly stood in her way. Neither of them spoke to her or even really looked at her.

Marian described both of them as looking like Jesus (she never understood why there were two). They were discussing whether they should send her back. They said that she was a powerful teacher and had already been doing good work, but they knew she would begin a ministry and would reach people around the world with her message of love.

Just as they turned to her to ask if she would go back, she whooooshed back into her body.

Marian always told this story with a huge smile on her face. She said that death is an illusion and that we never lose consciousness.

She said, “One minute I was Marian and the next minute, I was still Marian.”  She would draw an imaginary line on the floor and hop over it. “Don’t ever be afraid to drop your body and go HOME. You’ll be glad to be free of it … I promise.”

In her last hours she fell in to a deep coma, Hospice had been called in and they were keeping her comfortable. Just before she took her last breath, she opened her eyes and smiled wide saying; “I’m doing good, aren’t I?”

There was no fear, only joy.

As I recall, during a memorial for a dear friend of hers, she said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Do not pity the dead, pity the living! This living thing is hard stuff! We’re here to help one another and to have as much fun as we can (she would always insert, legally). Don’t worry about tomorrow, because there are no tomorrows. In my 89 years on this planet, I’ve never seen a tomorrow! I’ve only seen todays! Lots and lots of todays! So make today a great day.

“Do what you can and then a little bit more. Eat cake. Don’t wait until someday to do what you love … love everything you do. If what you’re doing makes you miserable … stop it! It’s not worth it. Life is simple, people are complicated.”

Over the years, Marian and her messages have traveled around the world. I will be forever changed for having known her.

One last quote: “We are the immortals; we have always been and ever will be. You have always been you and you will always be. And when life gets tough … eat more cake!