As most of you know, my dear partner of 41 years, Michael, passed away on Jan 24th peacefully in his sleep. He had been experiencing a slow but steady decline in his health for some time due to diabetes.
On Wednesday January 30th I, along with some close friends attended his cremation. It was poignant and powerful. Five of my circle sisters joined me to drum Michael into the ethers. They included Alexandra Hart, Suzette Burrous, Ronita Johnson, Tami Wands, and Giovanna Pierine. The sun was out, the breeze was gentle, birds were singing, and crows added their voice to the drum song.
There are moments when grief takes me over like a rogue wave and I suddenly find myself out to sea. But most of the time I’m doing well. I feel I’m in a period of grace where only love and appreciation for Michael, for my friends, and for my work exists.
For the past year I’ve taken over more and more of the work of New Dimensions as Michael has stepped back and relinquished more and more of his duties. I’m looking forward to this new year with enthusiasm and curiosity. I love the work that Michael and I have created together and fully expect, goddess willing, to continue it.
As his body was transferred to the crematory my friends drummed as I chanted three times the Tibetan prayer to Guru Rinpoche. My voice was surprisingly strong. It felt as if I was taken over by a mysterious force as the chant echoed off the walls of the room in an invocation, announcing to the heavens that Michael is joining the ancestors. We then recited three Hail Marys to honor Michael’s Catholic roots (covering all the bases). These were followed by my reading a prayer I wrote especially for Michael invoking Our Lady of Guadalupe who was special to him and who led him through many trials and challenges. He called on her often.
O God, holy spirit, great creative energy of the universe, universal love, thank you for bestowing upon us unceasing favors by having placed us under the special protection of the Most Blessed feminine deity known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is our prayer that Michael is now rejoicing in seeing her face to face and is held in her most loving arms.
I thank each of you who have written, prayed, and stood with me at this time. A public memorial will be held to honor Michael on March 9, 2013, at the place it all began, the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to New Dimensions Radio at www.newdimensions.org to continue the important work that Michael started.
Justine Willis Toms, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, Managing Producer and Host