86: A Heart-Wrenching Goodbye

86: A Heart-Wrenching Goodbye

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven

A Heart-Wrenching Goodbye

The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected.

~Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

That particular Wednesday in February seemed like most others. I worked at a job I liked. I went home to make myself something quick to eat before attending a night class at a local university. I got to class early to visit with fellow classmates. That is how it usually went on Wednesdays that winter.

I had no reason to expect anything would happen to a family member that day. My grandmother had been dealing with cancer, but she was in a good place and there was no imminent threat of her death. A few other family members had health issues, but nothing that was life threatening. I learned that night anything can happen in the blink of an eye and change your life forever. I also learned that the emotional bonds and connections we have with others are hardwired into our physical beings; and we can sense things happening to our loved ones even when we don’t know of them with our minds.

I had always been close to my father. Although I loved both of my parents deeply and got along with both of them, I felt more in alignment with my father. Dad was a self-starter and a hard worker. He had overcome more than a few huge traumas in his life that would have emotionally crippled others. I looked up to him and appreciated how hard he worked to provide for his family. He loved my mother and lovingly referred to her as “my bride” throughout their marriage. He dearly loved his seven children. He was generous with his many talents, often helping family members and friends with their projects. He had his faults, as we all do, but he was a good man.

In the middle of my class that Wednesday evening, I felt, out of nowhere, a sudden and deep pain in my chest. It is nearly impossible to put into words the feeling I had, but I can still remember it to this day (nearly forty years later). It felt as if someone or something reached into my chest cavity and pulled out a piece of my heart, just ripped it from my body. This sudden pain caused me cry out, loud enough for the instructor to notice. He asked if I was okay as I rose from my seat. My response was one I gave without knowing where it came from — it just poured out from me as if I had been given the answer to speak. “Someone I know just died.”

I barely have a recollection of leaving the classroom, or of driving home. I only remember grabbing my belongings and leaving, with tears running down my face. I felt a bit crazy. I did not know what was happening. What was that feeling in my chest? Why did it hurt so much? Even though the pain disappeared, an ache still lingered. I did not feel like anything physical happened to me, so I was not concerned about my health. Why had I blurted out that someone I knew had just died? Where did that come from? None of it made any sense. All I knew was it felt real, too real, and I could not stop crying.

I got home to an empty apartment. I do not recall where my husband was, but I did not feel he was the one to worry about. I called my parents’ home. My parents and six siblings all lived together, and I was certain that was where I would get the answer to my burning question: “Did someone we know and love die today or tonight?” I called countless times over the next few hours. No answer. This was thirty-eight years ago, in the days before answering machines or cell phones, so I just had to keep calling.

About two hours after I got home from class and in between my phone calls to my parents, I received a call from my mother. She was sobbing. It took her a while to be able to speak. My father had died very unexpectedly that evening, at the age of forty-six. He had been home alone. When she got home from visiting my grandmother with my two youngest sisters, she found my father dead in their bedroom. According to the paramedics, my father died about the same time I felt something rip from my chest.

I felt then, as I still do today, my connection to my father was so deep that when he left this physical world, I could feel him leave in my body. I believe my body was reacting to the emotional pain of the loss before my brain was conscious of the fact that he had died. In the years since, I have felt comforted by the heart-wrenching feeling I had that night. It reminds me of our connection, in life and beyond this physical existence. I also like to believe that he might have wanted to take a piece of me with him, knowing that I would want it that way. I truly believe that wherever he is, I am with him, and that we are always and forever connected.

~Valerie S. Libby

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