Reconciled by the Light – Ron Pappalardo
Reconciled by the Light
THE AFTER-DEATH LETTERS FROM A TEEN SUICIDE
Copyright 2009 Ronald J. Pappalardo. Printed and bound in the United States of America. All rights reserved. The material contained within this book is protected by both the United States Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in an electronic retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.
Ron Pappalardo’s Web site:
On August 11, 2003, I lost my 17-year-old first-born son to suicide. It’s a tragedy that no one should ever have to go through, but I did, and I survived. I can’t think of a more painful experience for a parent than having to bury a child.
Over thirty thousand people commit suicide in the United States every year. Some of those who are left behind do not survive the emotional and psychological shock waves that follow. Some sink into depression, some see their marriages and families break up, and some commit suicide themselves. It doesn’t have to be this way.
This book recounts the details of the process my son and I went through before and after his death that took us on a path to healing, reconciliation, and peace. It is not just my story; it is his story as well. While my story transpires on this side of the veil of death, most of his is told from the “other side.”
With the help of some gifted mediums, I was able to reestablish communication with my son after he died. The “letters” and other communication received from him are extraordinarily profound in the content they reveal. They describe what goes on in the mind of some suicides both before and after they end their lives. Also revealed is fascinating content about what suicides and others experience when they arrive on the “other side.”
Through this process my son and I were carried from turmoil to calm, from guilt to forgiveness, from doubt to faith, and from separation to reunion. At various times along the way, we both had experiences that revealed the presence of a transcendent source of Divine love that dwells at the center of all reality.
I hope that this book will serve as a source of comfort to those who are going through what I went through. It is meant to provide assistance and hope to those who have lost loved ones, whether it is through suicide or some other cause. It is also a useful resource for young people to consider as they navigate the rocky waters of their teenage years.
Surprisingly, in the course of writing, I eventually realized that suicide is not the main subject of this book. My son’s suicide became a catalyst that thrust me, and him, on a remarkable journey, and it is that journey that holds center stage. It was a journey of the spirit that I think anyone can relate to. It’s a journey that began with shock, confusion, and anguish, but ended in discovery, reconciliation, hope, and joy. It’s a journey that all of us in one way or another are traveling, one that involves the search for meaning in life and that demonstrates the central part love plays in it.
Along this journey, I experienced more fully the realization that life is spiritual at its core. We are eternal beings, and this life is a natural process of preparation for the next one, the one that begins when the physical body dies. I now see death as nothing to be feared, but as a normal part of our existence as natural and as exciting as a butterfly leaving behind the empty shell of its cocoon to spread out its wings and fly.
This book will take people to places no earthly person has ever seen before, and reveal things that most have never even imagined. It is a voyage of discovery. A father and a son, separated by death, reunited by love – this is our story.
Chapter 19: Séance
We sat around talking and munching down eggs, bagels, and other assorted breakfast fare, marveling at how well the service had gone. Watching the scene, no one would ever have guessed that a séance was about to take place.
There were no candles, crystal balls or anything at all out of the ordinary, just a bunch of friends eating, gabbing away, and enjoying each other’s company.
After we finished, David Hose asked us to join him in a prayer. We bowed our heads, and David uttered a prayer asking for God to hear us, to grant that his Holy Spirit might be present, and guide our fellowship.
Then he fell silent–so did everyone else. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. After a moment, he spoke. His voice was so soft I could barely hear him, but it was somehow very clear what he had just said: “Josh is here with us.”
I had already prepared by bringing my legal pad and pen. As Josh spoke to us through the instrument of David’s psychic gift, this time I got everything almost exactly as it was spoken.
Unlike the hesitant, uncertain Josh from before the service, this Josh spoke much more clearly and, this time with a measure of hopefulness we hadn’t seen the day before. (Ron Pappalardo 47)
The message was short and succinct; nevertheless it was quite profound and complete.
We later made copies and gave it to anyone who was willing to receive it. It is presented here just as I wrote it down that day.
Morning of August 18, 2003:
I want to express my thanks for all the love I received yesterday. It’s not so easy for me to come right now because I have to make some adjustment, but it seems that because of all the love that’s around me I’m given this opportunity to express the gratitude I feel with all the overflowing love I experienced from you yesterday.
It’s clear that I was surrounded by your love and the love of God. I should have been more sensitive to the way you felt about me when I was with you.
I think I’ve already learned something because being here makes things very clear. Thank you for your great love.
I stand here to wish you the best as you go on your journey, as I go on mine.
Don’t waste time listening to the buzzing in your head. Do you understand? You know, the waves of negative thoughts that go on inside your head? I’ve learned I must rise above that.
I’m in no position to give advice, but I want to say something more deeply than just “Don’t ever do this.” Please don’t give in to those negative emotions. You are too precious to give in to those things.
All the help you need for your life is right there with you, on earth. You just have to look around you so you can see it. Your friends, your family… they’re all there to help you.
Again, thanks. You helped me powerfully yesterday. Sometime soon I can be more free maybe. I want to be in contact with you, because you are the best people I know.
Chapter 20: Friendly Advice
Needless to say, I was just amazed by this message. I knew that Joshua wasn’t out of the woods yet, but I could see that he was well on his way. I suspected that he was beginning to accept help from his guides, and would continue to do so. I was really curious to know who these spiritual beings were, but I wouldn’t find out until much later.
The thing that made me the happiest was at the end when he said, “You helped me powerfully yesterday.”
The whole situation of Josh’s depression and suicide had left me in a state of deep anguish. As parents of a suicide, it is probably inevitable to struggle terribly with self-doubt and a profound sense of failure–“Why wasn’t I able to protect my son from this tragedy? Why didn’t I do something differently? There must have been something more I could have done to prevent this!”
As someone who has been through it, I would caution others not to dwell on these thoughts. Let them come into your consciousness and acknowledge them, observe them, and then let them go again like a leaf that slowly drifts by you in an autumn breeze. Let it go. Don’t pick it up to get a closer look. Just let it go.
Recognize that there is a Higher Power present in your life, and let negative thoughts go by. If you dwell on them, they are very destructive. They can destroy your own sanity, your marriage, and your family. Cultivate humility, a humility that recognizes that you can’t control everything. You do your best and leave the rest in the hands of God.
Also, cultivate forgiveness. If you feel that others have failed your loved one in some way that led to the suicide, it’s all right to entertain that thought–it might even be true. You must nevertheless forgive them, and if you think that you have failed your loved one, you must forgive yourself as well. If you are having a hard time forgiving, ask for the ability to forgive, and you may receive it. (Ron Pappalardo 49)
One thing that helps me forgive is thinking about someone who had a more difficult situation than me, and yet found a way to forgive anyway. If you still have a hard time forgiving, maybe this will help. Imagine Jesus hanging on the cross, his life slowly ebbing away from him as he bleeds from multiple wounds. He’s having a hard time even breathing. He looks down at those who are executing him. In that tragic situation, an innocent man being killed in a brutal fashion, it would have been understandable if he had expressed bitterness, anger, or a desire for revenge. It never fails to move my heart when I consider that instead he raised his voice to heaven and prayed for his tormentors–“Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 RSV) If he could forgive in such an extreme situation, I can forgive in mine.
Be honest about your feelings. It’s okay to feel the way you do. They are valid feelings. Talk to someone about them, acknowledge them, but don’t dwell on them. Again, I believe that if you focus on the needs of others around you, you won’t fall into depression.
Humility, forgiveness, and honesty are powerful tools for you to use to get through the turmoil.
When Josh said, “You helped me powerfully yesterday,” I felt tremendously comforted. My intuition told me that the memorial service could be helpful to him, and it was. I was so grateful to be able to do something–anything–on this side to help my boy on the other side, and I had.
Chapter 26: Liberation
A few days elapsed between the time we talked to Ms. Haversham about performing a reading with Josh and the reading itself.
The phone rang on September 24, 2003. It had been about six weeks since Josh’s passing.
“I made contact with Josh,” Ms. Haversham said. “It was very emotional. I went through a whole box of tissues. Usually, these readings take about 40 minutes, but this one was over 2 hours. He had a lot he needed to say, and there was a lot of crying along the way. I’m going to send this out to you right away.”
When the letter arrived, I would not look at it at first. Connie read it before I did, and was very comforted by it. Intuitively, I knew that reading that letter would be like opening the cork on a bottle of champagne that had been shaken vigorously. I knew a lot of bottled up emotions were going to explode out of me, and I was pretty sure it would be a messy ordeal.
I waited for a time when Connie and the kids had left the house. I knew they were going to be gone for a while. I locked the doors, turned off the ringers on the phones, and went upstairs, locking the door to my bedroom behind me. I was honestly embarrassed at what might happen when I read the letter.
I began to pray. I prayed in a very simple, childlike manner, talking to my heavenly Father as a little boy would talk to his dad. No pretension. Total honesty and sincerity. I told God what I had been going through and how I felt. I asked him to read the letter together with me; we would face this thing together.
I’ve reproduced the entire contents of the letter here exactly as it was given to me; I haven’t added a single word, nor removed any.
Do I really believe this came from my son? It sure sounds like him! Even the style of speech. Also, there is information included that Ms. Haversham couldn’t possibly have known about. I won’t know for sure until I cross over, but I’d be willing to bet the deed to my house that it came from him.
The words in parentheses are comments Ms. Haversham makes while she received the dictation.
The letter opens with greetings from a group of spirits who helped to provide the energy for the communication to take place. Think of them as a big spiritual “radio transmitter.”
Reading with Josh Pappalardo, September 24, 2003:
This is the Council of Light. We want to express to the parents of Josh that we are just beings of heart who wish to create a bridge that can allow loved ones to communicate freely and casually between these worlds, the physical and the spiritual. So we are here at your calling on their behalf as they seek communication with Josh.
Josh is here and we are with him now. He is a bright young man, bright as his parents truly know him to be, but not as he appeared in recent times leading to his passing. For this he has much regret. Not only that he was in a slump (as he calls it) for so long, but that they cannot see how truly bright he is now. We will let him speak as he is very able to communicate, and he is anxious to express himself to his family.
Mom, Dad, this is Josh. I am speaking with my heart, and I am so relieved that you can receive my words as if I am speaking them directly to you. I feel so much love and light and energy coming from you, and this totally is changing me. Well, it is not changing me so much as it is freeing me to be myself.
I want to begin by saying how sorry I am for putting you through this horrible, senseless experience. For me, it was “another day in the messed up life of Josh,” but I know that for you it was a real shock, and I can see that it has caused you so much pain. This burdens me, and I sincerely apologize. Please forgive me, and please forgive yourselves also because you really are not at fault. I made choices that were bad choices. That is the amazing thing about growing up. We reach a point in our lives where we can make choices, and we sometimes just make stupid ones that lead into more stupid ones, and it’s all a downward spiral. Of course, I didn’t see this when I was on the earth. I was just caught up in the emotions and the energy of rebellion. It was an addiction to rebellion. It gave me a sense of control and escape at the same time. What I didn’t realize is that it was propelling me into oblivion! And so this is where it brought me.
I wish that I could say that everything is all right and I am happy, but you know that I am not. Just as you are suffering, I am too. I have to face what I have done, which is a big violation of the gift of life, and it is a slap in the face of those who created me. I was born of love–yours, God’s, the whole universe’s. And I snuffed out my life on earth in a moment of thoughtlessness. This is hard to reconcile, and it causes me great pain. I also disrupted the lives of my younger siblings in ways that are difficult for anyone to comprehend, and I regret this deeply. I ask also for their forgiveness. Please, please know that I love you deeply and I am crazy about you. You mean all the world to me, and I would never have imagined that I could hurt you so by doing this before your eyes. Please forgive me, and please choose a good experience we had together and record this as the memory you had of us together, not those last months and hours I had on the earth. This will free my heart and allow me to feel your mercy. I need that from you so much.
So this is what weighs so heavily in my heart–the family and friends whom I hurt through my stupid choices, my attitude, and my passing. I took my life, and no one should feel so proud before God and their parents as to feel that they have the right to do this. Mom and Dad, please don’t try to just skim over these words from my heart because they may bring you pain and regret. I need to express this from my heart because it is what I am working through at this time. It is a road I must travel in the process of healing. I want to walk it with you. Please, please hear me. I love you so much, and I need you to feel this love because I know that in the last years and months I have not expressed it to you. In my rebellion I tried to hurt the world back, and it was you who I was hurting. It was you, and I am so shocked to see what I was doing to you. How could I have been so blind in my heart not to see this?
(He cries at this point and is silent)
Dad, I am so proud of you as my father. I am so proud to be your son.
(He cries again)
The dark energy that I created through rebellion and attitude became darker and more powerful than me, it engulfed me. My soul was lost in this dark cloud of energy. It was like a tornado. I could not think, feel or move inside anymore. I just got swept up in the power, the roar and confusion of the twister–and I was gone. I also turned everyone else’s lives upside down. You were left to pick up the pieces after the storm.
I was dead a long time before I took my life. I died inside. It was like an implosion. I have to say that by the time I took my life I had no feeling of myself left to get in touch with, much less those around me. This is why I could do such a terrible thing. I just didn’t feel anymore. I didn’t start out this way. Please understand this, because I am just slowly piecing this together. I just started out trying to express myself and to create my identity separate from what I thought was false and wrong (with religion, society, the established traditions). But in the process, I fueled my ideas with other energies. I eventually could not separate myself from those energies, and I was changing so fast, even for myself.
Dad, can you do this for me? Can you please share this with my friends? I am not the only one in this space. Some of my friends are also caught up in this energy. Don’t label it as “evil sources” because it turns people off. Just say it in my words.
It is energy we generate with our thoughts, attitudes, the things we read, listen to, and see that reinforces our negative thinking. Tell them to step back and breathe, be quiet with themselves and listen to their hearts. Tell them to not lose touch with their souls, who they truly are within. I was so surprised Dad to find that my soul was so bright deep inside. I could not believe this was me. I scarcely had a feel for myself in the end, and when I could, I only saw darkness. But that wasn’t me. And the world around me was not all that bad. It was ME who was seeing only the bad. We create the reality around us. Please just share this with my friends, even if just one or two want to hear me out, please let them know that this is what happened to me. It does not have to happen to them. Not that anyone will be so stupid as to take their life. I know this took a lot of courage for me–stupid courage, but they don’t need to live in such darkness. It is not necessary. Dad, don’t be concerned about whether they accept this or not, just share it with them and anyone who may be struggling in a similar situation as myself. It is the truth, and it will speak to them deeply in their hearts if they are ready to hear it. I am close to my friends, and will try to convey this to them in other ways as well. It’s just that it’s so amazing to me that I can express it in words through this communication.
Mom, I love you, and I will always remember your love and your words of comfort as you tried to understand me, to reach me. We are still in touch with each other. Know this, that I am more present in your lives now than I have been in several years even though I was on the earth then. And I can talk to you directly, even without Ms. Haversham.
I am getting the support I need here to grow and to rise above the issues that I have carried with me. It’s all love here, no judgment. I am surrounded by very loving beings who tend to my needs and encourage me to venture outside of my shell that I had created for myself.
I want to tell you that I have met a young man named Andrew Byrne. He is such a good person, and he approaches me as if we have known each other forever. He puts his arm around me, and he shows me that he cares. He is so bright, and he also told me about his life and some of his mistakes. He says that he also had issues when he passed. He didn’t take his life like me. He was careless (that means wild) he says, and he found himself here in a flash. He has helped me through this period of regret. It is so hard to rise above regret. But he is here with me often, and I am so grateful to him. Others come who passed in the same manner as I–by taking their own lives. Everyone’s story is different, yet so similar. And no one judges me. They just bring love and encouragement. So you should know that who I’m hanging out with on this side you would very much approve of. (He laughs)
I leave you now. My love to everyone and especially to my siblings. I appreciate everyone’s prayers and light and love. This all gets translated into wonderful support in the form of uplifting thoughts and feelings that last. This is what sustains me–your love.
I wave good-bye to you. I feel I never said good-bye. This talk has lifted a heavy burden from my heart. I know that I was emotional and maybe heavy at times, but know that this has been very good for me–to express what was deep in my heart freely to you, and to know that you receive it with love. I also felt restless because I naturally wanted to communicate this message to my friends. I know that you will help me do this Dad. You always respected me. I know that you think you were probably not caring enough. But you just were upset at that “monster” that had become me, and very rightfully so. You were upset at me for allowing myself to let this monster of energy consume me. I understand this now.
Bye. Love. Josh.
Tears began to well up in my eyes immediately as I began to read the letter. It was strange. It sounded just like Josh, but it sounded like a Josh from years back. It didn’t sound like the Josh of the recent past. It was as if a demon had been exorcised from him, and he sounded more like the young son with whom I had shared a closer connection than the troubled rebel of his adolescence. I felt like I got my son back, but this made all the more raw the feeling of intense longing I had for his physical presence. I missed him terribly. I wanted to be able to give him a hug–to hold him close–but I could not. I wanted to see him face to face.
I was holding up fairly well emotionally until I got to the part where Ms. Haversham said he paused and began to cry, and then he said the words my soul had been aching to hear:
Dad, I am so proud of you as my father. I am so proud to be your son.
Immediately upon hearing these words, the dam that was holding in my emotions burst asunder. I wailed loudly as the feelings poured out from deep within my soul. Tears rolled down my cheeks and my nose ran and ran. Saliva even oozed from my mouth. I became a soggy mass of wet. Meanwhile, my stomach churned inside my gut, the muscles becoming sore from the intense contractions. The noise of my wailing would probably have been disturbing to anyone who heard it. I grabbed a pillow and buried my face in it to mask the sound–my wailing was so loud I thought someone might call the police.
The agony of the years of stress and anxiety over the struggle to save my boy gushed out the way water flows from an open fire hydrant.
The spectacle of a grown man in the depths of grief is an awesome sight. I’ve seen pictures from Iraq of masculine, middle-aged men grieving over dead sons–eyes bloodshot, faces twisted in anguish, liquid oozing from every orifice. This is what I must have looked like. It had been over a month since Joshua had passed, yet I was only now allowing myself the luxury of letting it all out, and even though it hurt, it hurt in a good way.
Within the cascade of jumbled emotions, two stood out above the rest. They emerged like two mighty stones protruding from the middle of a swirling whirlpool, offering me refuge from the flood–forgiveness and liberation.
I hadn’t been able to escape the thought that maybe his death had all been my fault, that if I had somehow done something differently, Josh would still be with us. I thought Josh might be blaming me from the other side, caught up in bitter anger at the father who failed him. I was concerned that if he harbored such resentment, it would be a shackle for him. Now I knew that he was not bound by such chains. He was free, and because he was free, I was also free. I felt the joy of liberation beginning to soothe my soul.
If he could say, “I’m proud to be your son” it meant that, from the other side, he now understood what I had gone through. He knew now the efforts and sacrifices that both Connie and I had made to try and help him. He saw the sleepless nights, the prayers, and the frustration at not being able to reach him.
Along with liberation I felt forgiveness. I could start to forgive myself, and I knew that Joshua had forgiven me as well. In the days and weeks that followed, I would start to love myself again.
After several minutes, I slowly began to calm down. The reservoir of grief poured itself out and began to taper off, quietly ebbing away. In a few more minutes it was all over, and it felt as if I had arrived at the beginning point of my healing.