As in the archetype for many works of fiction,“The Hero’s Journey,”there is a climax in The Dreaming Road in Chapter 33 where Diane cuts the cords that symbolically still bind her to Callie in grief so that she can finally be set free. This scene was based on an actual cord cutting ceremony that Shawn Gallaway and Jan Salerno conducted with me in Hawaii.

After a birth, the umbilical cord is cut, and the placenta is delivered as it is no longer needed to nourish the newborn infant and although a mother and her baby are still connected by the bonds of love, they are free to grow on their own as separate individuals. After my daughter’s death, especially because it was so sudden and traumatic, I was still energetically tethered her by deep sorrow, tremendous guilt, regret for words left unspoken, hopelessness, despair and aching loneliness because there was no way to turn back the hands of time. Sometimes I was angry with her for abandoning me and leaving me to carry on in this world without her. And my daughter, from the other side of the veil, witnessed all the pain that those of us left behind experienced.

But there came a point in the grieving process where I just had to let go, surrender to the experience and move on with my life on this side of the veil. I found that this “letting-go” was aided by a cord cutting ceremony conducted by two gifted healers who knew I was ready for this type of deep cleansing. Trust in the healers’ability to take me down that dark tunnel and back up into the light was essential for the process to unfold. I also felt that because the energy of birth involves both the male and the female, that masculine energy was also needed for me, as a woman, to set my daughter free.

Shawn, Jan and a group of trusted friends took me to a cove and anchored the boat a short distance from the shore. I remember that it was a perfect sun-drenched day with a slight chop on the ocean. Shawn tied a heavy string around my waist that was attached to a round stone similar in shape and size to a human placenta. The rock symbolized the heaviness of the experience and all the negative emotions contained within it. We all jumped off the boat and the group, holding hands, formed a circle around me, Jan and Shawn in the water. He then asked me to name each feeling I wanted to release to the rock starting with what lay on the surface down to the dark recesses of my broken heart. The emotions associated with these feelings welled up from deep inside me, as they did for Diane in The Dreaming Road, until there was no more. I had reached the bottom of the well. Then he gave me a knife and asked me to cut the string to the rock to physically let go of all these dark emotions and I watched it slide into the depths of the ocean.

As we were motoring back to the harbor, I shot what I thought was a photo of the shoreline with a white sand beach circled by black lava rock and green shrubs. But my first photo (located at the beginning of this blog post) turned out quite differently than I expected. It was taken by my I-phone and has not been edited in any way. The second photo (at the end of this blog) is the photo I thought I was taking. I have no logical explanation for this photo other than my thumb or finger must have gotten in the way of the camera lens, but the symmetry is striking. In my heart of hearts, I feel that the energy of light in Cassie’s soul was released because she was no longer tethered to me by the burden of unrelenting pain and suffering that tied us both together. I am now connected to Cassie’s spirit by love and light rather than sorrow and this has set us both free. When I got home from Hawaii, I burned the rope and buried the ashes in my garden. I finally felt at peace with it, all of it. From a broader perspective, I understood that my experiences with my daughter unfolded just as they were meant to and I could now forgive myself, let go and let it be.