If You Build It…He Will Come

Hello friends, light carriers, hope mongers and those who grieve. I want to share with you a providential story of continuing connections that has just blessed my life. On this last Halloween night 2019 we stayed at the Shalom Spiritually Center in Dubuque Iowa. It is a very old Gothic religious structure built between two graveyards. Our room overlooked one of them.  It once was a Catholic school for girls/convent/chapel built in the last century.  We held a 3-day Proactive Grieving conference with fellow author/grief influence Mary Potter Kenyon with support from the center and sponsorship from Kramer funeral home. A small intimate delightful venue that is going on its 5th year helping to heal broken hearts that we look forward to every year.

Following the end of the conference we decided to stay another day in the area. We stumbled on a very old purportedly haunted hotel built in the 1800’s called The Decker in Maquoketa Iowa. It was not  not too far from “The Field of Dreams” movie/tourist site which we had been wanted to visit and they had vacancies. Freel, it was something right out of the movie the “Shining”! The room with strange “activity” noted was across from ours, and we were the only ones staying there; creepy cool, we dug it. We noted no nocturnal bumps in the night in our stay there, but the clock  in our room clock kept blinking 9:08 and did so continually.  We would change it over, and over again; it would always come back blinking 9:08, even after we unplugged it several times. We finally just left it unplugged. A few days later for kicks I looked up the angel number, thinking it may have some message for me, and I thought it was on spot where I am at. I paraphrase part of it below the photos:

  IMG-0136  IMG-0134                                        

 ANGENUMBER  908 is a compilation of the energies. The number 9 is the number of lightworking and service to humanity, philanthropy and benevolence, duty and calling, leading by positive example, sensitivity and strength of character, non-conformity and idealism. Number 0 represents potential and/or choice, a spiritual journey, developing your spiritual aspects, listening to your intuition and higher-self, eternity and infinity, oneness and wholeness, continuing cycles and flow, and the beginning point. Number 8 resonates with giving and receiving, manifesting abundance, monetary and business acumen, mastery, management, self-confidence and personal authority, discernment and good judgement, insight and intelligence, the concept of karma, the Universal Spiritual Law of Cause and Effect.  Lovingly lifted from Angelnumbers.com

The next day we left the Decker Hotel early to drive back home and we stopped by the Field of Dreams movie site. It was a Sunday and unfortunately it was not open until noon. We walk around anyway and soon some cars showed up and a bunch of old guys in traditional uniforms of the day got out of the cars and headed onto the field.  Our mouths dropped as they walked out to the corn. We asked one player what’s up ? He said they let us old farts use the field on Sunday mornings when its closed. Smile.

The site was built for the movie filmed there that was released in 1989, 18 months following the death of our 9-year-old son Kelly. Seeing the film touched me deeply as it spoke of seeing, feeling, listening and following advice from spirit. The main character in the movie, Ray (Kevin Costner) accidentally “engaged with spirit” in the film. He was convinced it was a real experience and despite the many raised eyebrows of the community he followed advice from spirit: If you build it, he will come. He razed the corn field in front of his farmhouse and built a baseball field as directed.

Fod good1-iowa 2016

Once it was built, long dead baseball players walked out of the corn and played once again played ball on this newly created field. Only visible to the protagonist and eventually his family, it eventually took to the community and to the country at large. In the plot it appears the field was built for the ballplayers in spirit; if you build it, they will come. In truth the statement was “If you build it, he will come” meaning if Ray built the field, his father would come. His father had died when he was young, and he had longed to play ball with him again. At the end of film his father shows up in spirit and they play ball. A dream come true, hence the name a field of dreams.

My father died when I was 15 years old, I know that longing. My son died when he was only 9 years old, I know that longing. If you build it, he will come resounded in my head like an impossible siren of hope, but it was hope none the less. Can this work for me? Can I connect with my father and my son again? What can I build?

Coincidentally on the same day of very year that The Field of Dreams was released (April 21st 1989) another film of continuing connections was also released. Stephen King’s Pet Semetary was opened on the exact same day! This film was a dark horror movie involving reanimating the dead body of a couple’s young son using ancient indigenous burial grounds. It was fraught with the horrific negative impact of subscribing to meddling with fate and all its dark implications. Creepy.

I saw both movies that spring of 1989, less than 2 years out after my son had died; I cried many tears through both films… all the while asking myself the question: I have had both of those losses in my life, what would I have done given the same opportunity?  Would I reanimate my son’s cancer emaciated & radiated young body?  No, of course I would not. I do understand although the cognitive dissonance that was in that bereaved father’s brain. I understand the lure of possibility. I also understand the deep dark thoughts to take my own life to be with my son and the lure of that possibility…anything to find freedom from the continual pain.  People jumped from the trade towers on 911 because the pain of the flames was greater than the fear of the fall. We make choices, because we must; some choices are better than others; sometimes it’s a crap-shoot or a dart thrown in the dark.

We cannot reanimate bodies after burial, that is not a choice. We can although listen. Listen to body, mind, and to spirit unilaterally to achieve and nurture manifestation of our intention. If you build it, he will come resonated with me, and I wrote my first book “Letters to My Son, a journey through” a small soft covered self-published book whose publication changed my life. My grief became 3 dimensional, something I could literally share with the world, and I have. If you build it, he will come. My book eventually turned to more books, videos, films, articles, workshops, lectures on proactive grieving, continuing connections and autonomic resilience in grief and trauma.  I now speak across the nation and the world with my own radio show on grief. If you build it, he will come.

Following our time in Dubuque, my wife and I traveled to Parkland Florida where I was honored to share the stage with the drama club and their “Shine Choir” from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Parkland School.  I performed interpretive sign with them to the song “Shine” that they had written for the survivors of the school shooting at on School Valentine’s Day 2017.    https://www.facebook.com/jacquie824/videos/10156300516140764/

The event was held at the Bobby Resciniti Healing Hearts angel walk in Fort Lauderdale who has been working with the students/faculty, families and community since the shooting. Over 700 walkers with hundreds of angel signs honoring loved ones who have passed dotted the route of the path. An awesome day and we got to spend time with many dear friends and angel parents from many previous walks.

While we were already in warm southern Florida my wife and I also gambled on staying at an unseen Airbnb near Lake Okeechobee for two days to chill before returning home. We soon found out it was not near the lake at all, but behind a Publix/strip mall just off the main drag and the Federal Highway! Little did we know what a magical place it was going to be…

Rob the owner was gentle giant of a man with an equally large smile. He greeted us as we drove up his on his sea-shell chipped driveway. He lumbered up energetically equipped with a prosthetic leg that he seemed to use very well. It shined in the Florida sun with a deep shiny candy apple blue painted with powder blue flames that just happen to match his mint shiny blue S-10 pick-up that was parked proudly in his front circular drive.

A 70ish-year-old artist who never went past the 9th grade, bought this rundown old acreage with huts on a jungle lot over 20 years ago. He lived in the main house out front, a small tin roofed old military captain quarters house with several sheds. As an artist he created his own metal work/stained glass which were scattered throughout the property and in every building on site. His wife Carol from Japan has dementia and he with their granddaughter help care for her. Pictures on the wall show where she once played tennis with Chris Evert. Now retired to be with his wife, he rents out the “tiny house” cabin in the back yard among his studios for extra income. Lucky for us.

Rob showed me all his studios and he left them wide open and said anytime I wanted to look around, no locks anywhere. We had a hook-n-eye latch on our door!! and yet he said local bobcats would prowl at night so keep it locked! His studio was stocked with cold Rolling Rock beer that we were welcome to.  He struggled to get around the landscape of the yard with his Pogo-stick type prosthetic leg, but it did not slow him down. Originally from Pennsylvania (why the Rolling Rock) 🙂 he had an accent of sorts and rather humbly he said he had won a contest for the World Trade Centers Memorial for a work of art which is now displayed there. Cool dude. We both even remembered our Vietnam lottery numbers and watching the news; both peace advocates we recollected the thoughts of moving to Canada or becoming a Quaker; we laughed, but were both relieved we were not called. Barb said yikes you guys are like artist soul twins.  I was in heaven to be here. It felt ordained. We were simpatico.

I took photos everywhere all around the property and then sat blissfully on the front porch with a cold Rolling Rock and saw the sun shining through a stained-glass piece of artwork that was hanging in the window. We had made the right choice. The universe is incredible if you allow it. Take risks for joy.

IMG-07621-kelly reaching new jpeg

Meanwhile my wife was in the kitchenette admiring a stained-glass piece that was hanging there above the tiny stainless mini-sink and judging by the amount of dust on its surface, it hand been there quite a while. It was a photo of the artist’s father-in-law in Japan walking into the woods and it was infused into the glass. It was beautiful and to me it looked like the reverse image of an artwork I that I had created in pencil commercially for The Grief Toolbox.  It was called “walking through grief”. For me it bespoke of meeting in the middle light, that space between the darkness of both worlds coming and going. We both said we wanted to inquire about purchasing it. She then heard me scream.

Cloudy most of the day, the sun came out momentary and was shining directly through the stained-glass which illuminated the vase I was glancing at.  I stared in awe and screamed out loud: holy shit, Barb come here now!!!  Look at the vase in this stained-glass, do you see what I see? She said rather hesitantly “a lions face maybe? “I said look again at the top of the vase, can you not see your son’s eyes? Her turn to scream; she then said, OMG it is Kelly!!! Wow he is truly in that glass.

We held our book up to the glass, once you see it you cannot un-see it.   We called for Rob, he came out and we showed him; his jaw dropped, and he said he thought he could always see sort of an eye in there before…but said this is truly unreal it is just random molded glass I had on hand. I asked to buy it, he gave me a great deal because of the kismet of it all 😊. If you build it, he will come.

stained glass collage

.We are blessed to be Kelly’s parents. He only realized 9 birthdays on earth yet has celebrated 31 as an angel across a veil that we share. When you lose a child, it is like being sent to purgatory, a place between heaven and hell being separated from that angel that we love so much. It’s not a real place of course, but when you lose a child you find that purgatory & the land of misfit toys are very real places; a holding-pen for the hopeless.

Through continuing connection, we find hope, which is comparable to holding on to a rope on a slippery slope…waiting for the rain to stop. Eventually the prayers and compassion for one another helps to stop the rain. That slope was a long time ago for me. Today many calendar days that that once dropped me to my knees into a hopeless wreck, now drops me to my knees in adoration of the alchemy that makes our continuing bond possible.

Today is my son’s birthday, which for us is a holy day of obligation, a sacred day not for doing the mundane but one to honor our lives together the whole day. Today we honor his birthday in celebration; it may bring moist eyes and a tremulous smile, but that smile turns now to a grin knowing that death does not win.

The only alchemy we need is love.

11/16/19 MC

6 thoughts on “If You Build It…He Will Come

  1. That is so beautiful, Mitch and Barb. I have some of the same feelings as I lost 2 sisters between Thanksgiving and Christmas 3 years ago, another sister this last July and my only brother is now in his second journey of cancer. I have a full heart of being able to spend time with each as much as I could. Praise God for his strength given to me 🙏

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    1. Thank you Linda, how nice to hear from you. God bless you and sustain you and yes have gratitude for the time could spend with you siblings. Love is an amazing integer in any equation when God is part of it.

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