Having watched her husband suffer for 20 years with end-stage renal failure and dialysis, Fran asked him one day if he was afraid of dying.
“No…” he said thoughtfully, “I’m just wondering why it’s taking so long.”
Edward Joseph Blackwell was a celebrated jazz drummer who played and toured with such musical luminaries as Ray Charles, Ellis Marsalis, Ornette Coleman and Thealonis Monk to name a few. Known throughout his career as a musical innovator and, later, artist-in-residence at Wesleyan University, Blackwell loved to play—even as his health continued to fail.
But Fran and Ed had long since let go their fear of death. They had come to view life as a continuum through which everlasting souls progress, taking on deeper love and wisdom as they go. To them, death of the physical body was simply a translation from one state of being to another. All the same, there could be no discounting the deep bond of love that 34 years of marriage, of weathering both the good and the bad in this world, had fostered between them.
“In the last year of his life, on top of everything else he was dealing with, he developed carpal tunnel syndrome (a painful nerve compression in the wrists),” recalls Fran. “Whenever he picked up the drumsticks and played, pain would radiate up his arms. But he played anyway and no one could tell.”
“I knew, though,” says Fran, “and my heart ached.”
So great was her love that Fran begged her inner spiritual guide to let her to take on the pain. Her reasons were partly for Blackwell and partly for her:
“If he could no longer play his drums, there would be no reason for him to stay on this planet. So I asked my inner master to please allow me to take on the carpal tunnel. I did not need my hands and arms to fulfill my mission. Yet, days went by and he was still in pain, and my hands were fine, and he played and endured the pain, never losing the beat.”
When the time finally came for Blackwell to leave the physical world, he was surrounded by friends and family, and Fran was given a profound spiritual experience in which her inner master invited her along as he escorted her husband into his next life. Fran recalls that, as she returned to the present, her guide paused to tell her something.
“I know that when you asked to take on your husband’s pain, you did so out of great love, but he needed this last challenge,” she remembers the master saying. “He didn’t let the pain stop him; he gave all he had and more. This gave him the opportunity to realize that love can overcome pain.”
Then, gently, he explained that if Fran had taken that away, Blackwell would not have been able to graduate to the spiritual level due to him. Because Fran was not permitted to interfere, he told her, Blackwell was able to move on.
“He has earned a place in one of the high worlds of God,” Fran’s master assured her. “This soul has returned home.”
Looking back on that day, Fran is struck by another insight: “What a loving and gentle way for me to learn how deeply significant is the Spiritual Law of Non-Interference.*”
* The Spiritual Law of Non-Interference is said to be a universal law that forbids one person from interfering in the personal affairs of another without their permission, either intentionally or through ignorance. To learn more, try an internet search for “law of non-interference”.
The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.