Happy Birthday, Billy

March first was my husband Bill’s birthday. We were together almost thirty years, married for twenty of those. Because we were together that long, I can see him in many ways, in many versions, and in many settings. He is gone now, but there is the full arc of his life with me from which I can pluck a memory. There’s the young, rakish fellow who first asked me out, the actor who changed faces and personalities with every role; there is the soft face of a father and a grandfather, the confident, solid face that kept me anchored when the seas got rough, and the loving, peaceful, blue-eyed visage that looked at me as he left this earth. I have never seen so much love as I saw in that last look.

Bill had been in and out of his body several times before he finally let go of his earthly bonds. I only had to look at him to know when he wasn’t there. He came back one last time to say goodbye, and in his eyes was something I’d never seen before. It was a love that, as Scripture says, passes all understanding. I think that love was a reflection of what he had seen, of where he had been, and it came back with him, mirrored in his eyes. It was…unearthly. What I mean to say is that it was, for wont of a better word, heavenly. It was as if he was trying to tell me that he had been to someplace wonderful, more wonderful than I could imagine. It was saying that he loved me and that he always would. It was all there, in that one, beautiful look. It was, truly, worth a thousand words. Of all the faces of Bill that I remember, that is the one comes to me most often.

I have felt him around me more these past few days. I just finished re-reading one of his favorite books. Bill loved the English novelist Nevil Shute, and had an entire collection of his books. In the days when we were dating, he would read them to me in a stately, gentle way, because that was the way Nevil Shute wrote and that was the way his stories touched Bill. When Bill passed away, I gave most of the collection to his youngest son, Patrick, but I kept four – my favorites. When I read them, I hear his voice caressing the words, savoring each syllable. That must be the most cherished wish of every writer – to be that reverently read and loved. If Heaven is what I think it is, Nevil Shute and Bill sit in an English garden from time to time, talking, a pot of tea on the table between them. What a lovely thought.

Bill was around me on Thursday, the day after his birthday, in a most practical way. I’m working on my taxes for the accountant – always a punishing exercise. He used to do this abhorrent chore for the both of us, but for the last six years, it has fallen to me.

But back to Thursday: we kept a bank account from which we drew checks only to pay estimated taxes. It simplified things. Just for the record, I’m pretty good about keeping things and putting them in the proper places. I started out my working life as a secretary, and it left me with some valuable skills. I never misplace important documents. I had two other checkbook registers from our old bank from which to work, but I could not, for the life of me, find the one that listed my paid estimated taxes for last year. I hadn’t, as a matter of fact, seen it in a while, since I moved and changed banks. But I have a rule. I keep one file each year for everything I am going to need in February and March, when I start to assemble tax data. The checkbook registers are always put there, along with everything else.

It was nowhere to be found. I turned the office upside down. I went through every possible file, more than once. I cleared my desk and put everything back. I looked in drawers and boxes. I was getting desperate. Just before I decided to tear my hair out, I went back to my desk one more time, lifted a file folder and…there it was, underneath. It’s notable because it is the last one I have with Bill’s handwriting on the front.

The register wasn’t lost. Of course it wasn’t. Nothing else, and I mean nothing else, among loads of tax-related papers was lost. I don’t LOSE these things. Bill moved it.

No, this isn’t crazy. I’ve had things like this happen to me before (I’ll bet some of you have too). Bill just wanted me to know that he was around, that’s all. He put it back. But he got my attention. For those of us who make a study of things metaphysical and ponder the workings of the spirit world, this is a common occurrence. A thing that is transported from one place to another or the appearance of an article from an unknown source is called an apport. Material things are de-materialized (you know, like on Star Trek) and materialized again.  The point is just to let us know that Spirit is around. That’s all. It’s nothing spooky. It’s just another act of love and remembrance. When it happens, we meta-physicians take it in our stride, smile, and say thank you.

Happy Birthday, Billy, and thanks for the visit. You know, I know, and I hope that my readers know by now, that Nobody’s Gone for Good.



Read: The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at www.amazon.com or, for an autographed copy, visit www.themessenger.space.




How To Receive

I’ve lived on the East Coast most of my life, but five months ago, I moved to Sedona, Arizona. I felt called here after the death of my husband. Others migrants have told me they felt called too, and none that I’ve met can say why, exactly.  It probably doesn’t matter. What matters is that we heard the call and we came. We think we are here for a reason. Whatever that reason may be, one thing is sure: I’ve landed in a great classroom.

Last week, I went with one of my new friends to visit a Hopi reservation. “It’s about a two hour drive from Sedona,” she said. “Plan to spend the day.” A group of people from Sedona have, for the past eleven years, brought clothes and food at Christmastime to the Tewa people who live on the reservation.  I said yes. And then, I wished I’d said no.

Native American blood runs through my veins, thanks to my grandfather who was either full-blooded or part Cherokee. This connection to native peoples has always called out to me – like Sedona – but I have had no contact with my grandfather’s people, and no meaningful contact with any Native Americans. My grandfather died when I was young, but I remember him. I have a photograph of him on my piano. He is seated, handsome and straight, with his six children in front (the oldest died), the baby, my Uncle Robert, on his knee, my father, the oldest boy, standing tall and solemn to his left. Standing behind the children and next to him is my grandmother, a white woman, who, I believe, was from an Irish indentured family, and for whom I am named. Not many records were kept of people like these, and my family has no documentation of their births, their marriage (which was illegal in the South) or their deaths.

I can just imagine what their lives must have been like, living in South Carolina in the late eighteen hundreds, a white woman and a man of color. No, I guess I can’t. I can only imagine one true thing about them, and that is that it must have taken a great deal of love to keep them together. And alive.

My new friend said that the visit to the reservation would be a “connection” for me. In the days before we were to go, and while helping to pack boxes of canned goods, pasta, coffee, hand lotions, and other basics, I began to feel…a growing resentment. “If we hadn’t taken everything from them,” my mind said, “we wouldn’t have to be doing this at all.” I recalled photographs of white hunters, posing proudly for the camera before mountains of buffalo hides, careless mercenaries who left carcasses to rot on the plains while they sold hides for profit and robbed an entire people of their source of food. I went through every wrong, every bit of treachery, every broken promise made to a people whose lands, customs, languages, and freedom were taken from them. I was not in a good frame of mind when we left. I pictured the people we were going to see – humiliated and angry, horribly poor, unwilling recipients of charity who would tolerate our presence and our presents because of their great need.  I became more apprehensive as we drove through a vast plain, on a road that stretched to the horizon, where long, long ago, the buffalo were indeed plentiful, and where now there was nothing except the magnificence of mesa land.

As the cars were unloaded at the community center in a place called Polacca, my friend said, “Come with me and meet the elders.” Seated along a long hallway were beautifully dressed white-haired men and women who had come to represent the Tewa people. As I went along the line to greet them, each of them smiled, took my hand in theirs, and welcomed me as if I were their daughter. I found it hard to hold back the tears as I went along, for what I saw was not what I had expected. There was a great…clarity…about these old people, a gentleness, a serenity. It was as if they were saying to me, “It’s all right. We know who we are.” Some of them were in wheelchairs. Others held canes, still others looked robust and fit, but in each lined face what I saw was my grandfather.

I learned that we were not to distribute what we had brought to Tewa families. The elders would receive the gifts and they would distribute to the families most in need. And I learned something else. When I saw the great room of the community center with tables around the wall, I realized that the boxes that I’d help put together were just the tip of the iceberg. There were tables laden with hand-knitted caps, blankets, frozen turkeys, sacks of potatoes, and all manner of vegetables and commodities. The businesses of Sedona, the stores, and ordinary citizens had sent mountains of gifts. One word came to my mind: reconciliation.

One elder after another stepped to the microphone to address the group. Some spoke in their native language with an interpreter. They were gracious, appreciative, warm, funny, and above all, welcoming.  We were, after all, visitors. This was their home, their land, and they opened their hearts to us. Afterwards, I learned, we were to be hosted by a Hopi family and given lunch. There was a big Christmas tree in the room, with hand-made decorations, and they invited each one of us to come and take one. Mine was a painted baby’s rattle. There were mounds of homemade donuts for us (which were incredibly delicious) and large urns of coffee.

As the elders walked by each table and chose the gifts they were to distribute, they stopped to chat. I stood at the table with the knitted caps. They took their time in choosing. There is something about people who live close to the land that gives them a certain…surety.  Like my grandfather, who was a farmer, their movements were unhurried. Their gaze was steady, and age gave them an aura of wisdom and dignity. What struck me was that they were familiar. They were like family, like the family I visited in South Carolina when I was a little girl. They brought back my loved ones who have been gone for a long time. They were my grandfather, my father, my aunts and uncles who live now in a photograph on my piano and to whom I speak each night before I go to sleep. They were people who knew how to give, but more importantly, they were people who knew how to receive.

To Be Continued


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at www.amazon.com or for a signed copy, visit www.themessenger.space.

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Messages From The Universe

I used to wonder how I might know the difference between a “message” from the Universe (God, if you wish) and a message from myself, that is, my ego. The pastor of the little Arlington Metaphysical Chapel where I began my spiritual path would answer this puzzling question by saying, “Examine the content.” If it is negative, or if it is selfish or self-aggrandizing, he would say, it is suspect, meaning it wouldn’t have come from a Source of Universal Love.

Since I began examining the content of the little “messages” I get, I’ve noticed that the good ones are very subtle. No bolts of lightning for me. Still, I hear them. They may come in the words of a song (like the title of this blog – “Nobody’s Gone for Good), or a line from a play.

At other times, the message comes as an impulse, or an impression. You may call it a “hunch,” if you like. It can come from anywhere, as long as it is beautiful, loving and helpful. It can be comforting. It may flit across your mind as a thought of God Itself. We’ve all had these thoughts, these little “messages,” even if we do not recognize them as such. You may also put them to two other tests: (1) The timing of a message is always perfect, and (2) if followed, it will always produce a positive outcome.

I had one today. Mine was an impulse, or maybe it was more like a little push.  My cat and I had had a bad night. I woke up too early with too little sleep, and I was tired. I was tempted to turn over and stay in bed. Instead, (God knows why) I got up, went to my morning meditation group, and afterwards, when I got home, I debated in my head whether or not I should do the volunteer work I usually do on Saturdays, or cancel it and go see a friend who had just broken her hip and was in the hospital.  Either one, but certainly both seemed beyond me, the way I was feeling. Not knowing what to do, or what I could do, I asked God to direct me— a practice I’m getting better at. And then, a wave of fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to lie down, and before I knew it, I was asleep. This is not something I do ordinarily or easily. The impromptu nap wasn’t long, but it was enough. When I woke, it was time to get to my volunteer work. Kind of like I’d planned it. I stopped for coffee on the way, hoping I’d have enough energy afterwards to see my friend.

The volunteer work was unusually easy and cheerful, and the energy of the place was uplifting. Afterwards, feeling strongly as if I had to get to my friend, I got in my car and drove to the hospital in Cottonwood. If any of you have driven the 15 miles from Sedona to Cottonwood, you know that the drive is its own reward. Before me was the vast expanse of the Verde Valley, the mountains in the distance, and above, the incomparable, impossibly beautiful late afternoon sky of Arizona.

My dear friend looked tired. She had a right to be. She had just had titanium rods put in her shattered femur a day and a half ago and the hospital staff had made her walk just a few hours before I got there. She had had other visitors during the day, but when I got there, she was alone. She asked me if I’d get her some water. I left to go down the hall, and by the time I got back to the room, she was writhing in excruciating pain. The nurse had hurried off to get her medication. I held her hand as the tears came and a wave of pain distorted her lovely face. A few minutes turned into a lifetime. Time doesn’t fly when this happens.

Eventually, the medication did its work, and my friend, when she could finally talk, told me how glad she was that I was with her when this happened. I knew then that by following my “hunch” to get to her, I had arrived at the point where I was supposed to be, and at the perfect time. Calm now, and relieved from the severest of the pain, she asked me to tell her a story or two, and I did. They were about my husband, Bill, and the sweet and often funny memories I have of him. I brought him into the room with us, because as I’ve often said…Nobody’s Gone for Good, and he was always so good at hospital visits. He could make anybody laugh, from the nurses to the patient at hand. At the end, I left her with a little saying from my pastor: “Remember,” he’d say, “Things come to pass. They don’t come to stay.”  She managed a little laugh as I left her.

It took me a long time to trust my little “messages” enough to obey them. But now, when I do, I find that my life is inevitably enriched, and I am grateful for every loving experience.

On the drive back to Sedona, the setting sun was visible behind the clouds only as a silver lining. (There really are such things.) The enormous expanse of the desert sky was hung with lavender and pink clouds.  The last rays of the sun peeked through here and there and lit the red rocks of Sedona in the distance. It was all I could do to keep the car on the road. It was that beautiful. Was there another message in the sky? Was it telling me that it was a beautiful world, and that all was well? For me, the answer was yes, and all I could think of was, “Thank you, God.”


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at www.Amazon.com or www.themessenger.space.

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The Journey to Nobody’s Gone for Good

Every so often I stop to remember why I write this blog, and why I slog away at it every week. It must seem that I am forever recounting small miracles, improbable occurrences, and stops along a spiritual path. I am, of course, but I am aware of these things only because of what happened at the beginning. It started with grief. Not just any grief, but that special, life-threatening grief that comes with the loss of a child. My spiritual path began there. Not that I knew it at the time. I wonder if we ever know the moment of embarkation on the journey to another sphere of recognition. For that is what it was, the journey to the realization that Nobody’s Gone for Good. It’s the name of my blog.

I write this for the mothers and fathers who know that special, awful brand of grief, but I also write it for everyone who has ever known a heart-rending loss. At some point in time, that will be everyone. Grief is part of life. It is not life itself. And that is the difference a journey to the spiritual side of life made me understand.

I take no credit for understanding this great difference. That was a gift. It was either that or death for me. I lost a son. My daughters lost a brother. My mother lost a grandson. His father lost a son. His friends lost a friend. Even as I say it, I have trouble with that word lost. But as it is in that beautiful hymn, Amazing Grace, “Once I was lost, but now I’m found,” our loved ones could never have really been lost. And no matter how it may have seemed, we were never really lost, either. I think the idea of being lost is an illusion. It’s something I believed. It wasn’t true. Because I am here. I am not lost at all. And neither is my boy. I can feel him here with me.

The illusion of loss is the basis of grief. And we must feel it. I don’t know why. I only know that when the illusion becomes our belief, we feel grief. And I think that applies to every “loss.” I “lost” hope. I “lost” joy. I “lost my career.” I “lost” my child.

But then, for some of us, the embarkation occurs, and we put one foot in front of the other and begin the long, slow journey to another realization. There are many ways to be led to the point of embarkation. For me, it was threefold:  a book, a gifted medium, and contact with a Spirit Guide. For some, it may be a friend. It may be the words to a song, or a line in a play. Any number of inspirations can lead from one belief to another. I was neither easily convinced, nor did I learn to believe in another way quickly. My new beliefs were based on evidence, evidence that death is an impotent power, another illusion, and that the person who is lost is merely…elsewhere. In another form. And, most importantly, that communication with that person is possible and natural, with love as the bridge.  This is not easy. The transition to a new belief in life asks us to consider the reality of something that cannot be seen, or heard, or felt. It asks that we suspend disbelief, refrain from contempt prior to investigation, and to accept, in the words of Shakespeare, that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” It asks that we believe in a Love greater than we can imagine, a Love that never takes away, but gives, and gives life, constantly and always.

Today, I can write of the miracles I see in life. I see them because I know beyond all doubt that there is

—“a light in the night for all who mourn, the message that death is banished, that life is all there is, and that love is greater than fire, and wind, and time.” – taken from “The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide” by Helen Delaney.


The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney can be obtained by going to www.Amazon.com and my website at www.themessenger.space.

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For Those Who Believe


“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who do not believe, no proof is possible.” – Stuart Chase


When my son Eddie died, I had no way of knowing that I was at the beginning of a journey that started where everything else ended – faith, love of God, and the value of life itself. I was lost. Nothing in the physical world pointed to the North for me. Nothing in the rational world offered me a reason to live. It was in the world of Spirit that I found a path back to sanity and eventually, to peace.

It began when I started to experience little things – signs. Like the Christmas decorations that fell from my closet shelf as, full of pain and anger, I declared that I would not celebrate Christmas ever again. I remember looking at the decorations on the floor, none of them broken, trembling and whispering, I hear you, Eddie. I hear you.

Over the years, I have found other people who were having the same kinds of experiences. Just this past Christmas, my brother-in-law got a text message from his wife’s cell phone number. Margie had passed away in July, one day before their wedding anniversary, and by Christmastime, he didn’t even know where her phone was. The message just said MERRY CHRISTMAS. Just like that – in caps. Nothing else. Other members of the family got the same message. From the same number. I don’t know if he ever found the cell phone. I must ask him.

A few years ago, while preparing for a trip to Paris with my granddaughters, I was looking through a Belgian candy box. It was so pretty, I’d kept it for jewelry. There was a little ring inside, one my husband Bill had bought me on a trip to the Caribbean. It had special significance for us at the time. My fingers had swollen, and I had put it away. Seeing it there in the little box brought tears to my eyes. I took it out, looked at it, remembered the day he gave it to me with such love, then put it back in the little drawer in the little red silk box. I closed the drawer, closed the box, tied it with its red silk ribbon, and put it back in the closet. A few minutes later, while sorting clothes to put in the washer, I heard something drop to the floor. I looked, and there was the ring at my feet. I picked it up and put it on my finger. It fit perfectly. OK, Bill, I said, I’ll wear it. I’ll take it to Paris. Bill loved Paris. We loved it together. He wanted me to know that he would be there with us.

Yes, I talk to my dead. But I don’t believe in death any more. At least, not like I used to. They have shown me again and again that they are not gone, but that they are still very, very close to me. Sometimes, when I am not feeling well, I will feel something going through my hair, lightly, like a feather. Don’t ask me how I know, but I know it’s my mother. She used to do that when I was sick, and it always made me feel better. I always say, Thank you, Mama. I feel her. I feel her loving me, like I did that cold, dark, February night in Brussels when the plant in my office burst into bloom, just like Mama’s night blooming cereus from South Carolina. Mama had passed over about two weeks before. I had just gotten back from her funeral, feeling guilty because I wasn’t there at the end. She found a way to tell me that it was all right, and that she loved me.

I know many people now with stories like these. They feel safe telling them to me. Sometimes they begin with, “I’ve never told anybody this before, but…” They don’t want to be ridiculed or to have people think they’re…odd. I’m okay with it, because I know the “rational” world has difficulty accepting things it can’t see, or explain, or measure.

But we know – we who have felt them, or seen them, or heard them. We know that when we are sad, or sick, or lonely, they will find a way to let us know they are with us. They will find a way to help us believe that Nobody’s Gone for Good, and that life is all there is.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. It can be found at www.Amazon.com

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Nobody’s Gone for Good

It has been one year since I began writing this blog. I have, over the course of the year, written about a lot of things, mostly the vicissitudes and the challenges of living day to day. On this, the blog’s first anniversary, I decided it was time to remember why I started writing it in the first place. It was to introduce my book, The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide.  Writing this book, which is about the death of my son Eddie and the discovery of Spirit, my own and that of a loving Guide, simply saved my life. The Messenger, whose name is Lukhamen, lived in Egypt a long time ago, some two hundred years after the death of Christ. His story, as he imparted it to me, is a glimpse of life as it was under the brutal occupation of Rome. But it wasn’t until I went to Egypt – quite by chance – and the places I had seen only in my mind’s eye became a reality, that I understood who he was, and why he came into my life at its darkest hour.  The book – his gift to me – is a message of hope for anyone who has lost someone they loved, but especially parents who have lost a child.  The Messenger has found its way into the hands of precious people who have known the awful pain of grief. They have told me that the book was a comfort to them. That is its purpose. I plan to spend this next year seeking out others like them, and asking them to talk with me and to each other, so that we might share our experiences, strength, and hope.  Thank you to all who have stayed with me during this year, and to all who have joined our journey along the way. Your encouragement has lifted me out of many a dark day. Here is how it all started one year ago:


Welcome to my blog, Nobody’s Gone for Good. I never dreamed I would write a blog. Blogs were not invented by my generation. My granddaughters are in their twenties. A blog? Why? And why now? For the most part, I have led an ordinary life. But something happened to me that was not at all ordinary. It was, to say the least, improbable. It began a long time ago, and it took me a long time to write it down. I didn’t fully understand it until I had finished. It’s all in a book now, and it is time to let it go – to wherever it is supposed to go, to wherever it may do the most good. I have been told by this generation that a blog is its first step into the world. I am nothing if not obedient.

The title of my blog, Nobody’s Gone for Good, is borrowed. I was sitting in a movie theater when I heard those words sung onscreen. A woman who had passed on was sitting by her husband; her song was meant to console him, a man so lost in grief that he could neither see her nor hear her. My daughter, who was sitting next to me, touched my arm and said, “That’s it. That’s your line.” I had been looking for one simple sentence that would describe the book I had just finished, one simple sentence to describe the long journey that began with the death of my child.

Do our dead sing to us? Do they love us still? Where are they? Are they gone forever? Or does something live on, and do they whisper to us, saying, Don’t cry. Nobody’s gone for good.

Shakespeare said it so well: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Something happened to me that happens to many, many souls. At the darkest moment, in the deepest throes of anguish, at the point in time when all seems lost, a gift is imparted; a pinpoint of light shines in the night, the glimmer of a small star reaches a spirit in despair, and gives it hope.


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Look for The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney at www.Amazon.com

Milk Bottles

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When my children were small, we lived on an army base in Germany. It was in the early sixties, a time when milk came in glass bottles. They were delivered by a milkman, who would pick up the empty bottles on his next scheduled round. One bright, sunny day, I walked into the kitchen and found my three children, Debbie, Niki, and Eddie (Michaela had not yet been born), staring up at the empty milk bottles I had washed and placed on the kitchen table. “Kids,” I said. nobody answered. “Kids,” I said again, a little louder. Still no response. Curious, I got down on my knees to see what had them so enraptured. From their vantage point, the sun coming through the window had turned the bottles into sparkling, rainbow-colored prisms. In a few minutes, the light changed, and the magical crystals turned again into milk bottles. They turned to look at me with eyes wide with wonder. We all smiled, and I had a moment of immense gratitude. We had shared a moment of wondrous magic.

And nothing had changed but the way we saw the milk bottles. I thought about that when I got a phone call from my friend who told me that the magical man whose life was changed by stars, the man I wrote about last week, died this afternoon. I am happy for him. He is well, safe, and happy. That’s the way I see him – no more cancer, no more tears. I see the night sky twinkling with another new star.

I cannot change what is. I can only change the way I see things. And thanks to three little children on a sunny day in Germany, I’ve learned to do that. Because I know that milk bottles are not just milk bottles, but are also sparkling, magical crystals. I know that there is nothing but life, and I know that Nobody’s Gone for Good.


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Helen Delaney’s book, The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide is available on http://www.Amazon.com

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