What If?

What if

by Elana Cohen Richmond

* * *

“Your father is not coming home any more. He’s with god, now.” I was seven.



What is god? Where is god?

Was god the religious ceremonies we went to occasionally? The candles we lit for special events? The guy in my class who was having a Bar Mitzvah? Or our neighbor who was buying a lacy, white dress that she’d only wear once at her Communion next week?

* * *

When I was 40 years old, my husband passed away – in spite of the continual Reiki and energy he received from me and from our community!

“Well, all that healing work didn’t really seem to make any difference, did it?” I whispered with sadness. “You have no idea the impact it made on his soul.” My Reiki master told me with great confidence.



What really is the soul? I thought I had a much better sense of “soul” from when I was 7 years old. I thought I had felt things in my soul. I felt I had seen from my soul. I knew others’ souls. But, now? Now, I don’t know.  What I do want to know is – Where is he now?!

Was a bird singing a certain way his way of contacting me? Or the light flickering from a brand new bulb? Or a business opportunity that allowed me to change the course of my path?

* * *

July 4, 2004, five months, to the day, until I would turn 44 years old, my mother – my best friend – passed. “Of course she would go out on the 4th of July!” Howard would affirm. Even though I was in deep pain, I knew in my soul that he was spot on. I knew in my what? My soul?

What is the soul? Where is the soul?

I just knew. I just felt it.

Was my mom coming through when I would say something that was exactly what she would say – and almost watch myself saying it in slow motion? Was it my mom showing me her sense of humor when I learned that Howard also liked being one of the last to leave a gathering? Is my mom reaching out to me to show me how to enjoy preparing a meal as much as actually feeding my guests?

* * *

Ten years later Howard’s novel, The Healing Field, was published.

“You have a beautiful soul, Lori,” Dr. H tells his anorexic patient who wants to die.

“You have a beautiful Soul.”

It saved her life.

I knew exactly what he meant.

* * *

Sixteen days after a very “unwanted” diagnosis, Howard – my life partner and love of my life – took his last breath.

Ok, “god” – what of this? What divine plan is this?

I don’t have to wonder where his soul is because he’ll reach out to me, right?  If ever there was a soul and if ever there were a relationship that would warrant the connection – his would be it and ours would be that! This, I know! And it would be decisive; no wondering about blowing leaves that were his favorite color

IF there is god. IF there is soul. IF there is divine plan.

I hold the space for him to reach me.  I light a candle every night asking for me to feel him. Ok, Elana (I notice my non-judgmental observer), that’s an attachment.

“Do you feel Howard around you?” people ask. “Howard has come to me,” or  “He’ll reach out to you when it’s the right time,” others inform. Really? Wouldn’t you think that when you can’t breathe because the pain is so unbearable, that that would be a good time for one who loves you more than anything to let his presence be known?

* * *

Almost four months later, Lori (Dr. H’s patient from The Healing Field) and I meet for the first time since his passing. We sit on the bench at Swami’s – the beautiful gardens, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Howard and I sat in these gardens many times. Dr. H and Lori sat in these gardens many times. She and I hugged and sobbed missing our dear loved one that brought so much to each of our lives.

After the gardens closed, Lori and I went for a cup of chai at a local café. We shared stories, cried and laughed together. We were both confused by the fact that neither of us had felt Howard visiting us. How is this possible?

We looked at each other and almost simultaneously said out loud, “Nothing to fix or solve, just an opportunity to evolve.” We looked at each other in a profound way – laughing and crying at the same time.

What if? What if the reason Howard – Dr. H – has not shown himself to us is because this is part of our evolution – to not have an “easy” answer of “knowing” that there is something else and that he can reach out and touch us?

It could make sense that if it is in fact possible to connect from beyond that perhaps he would wait. “Just an opportunity to evolve”. What if this is more of the lessons Dr. H so passionately taught in Emotional Martial Arts™? “Nothing to fix or solve”….his showing himself now could be “a quick fix.”

From the hurt physical being, it might seem cruel; from a soul level, it could make perfect sense!

Over the years, as I struggled with my fears around death and questioned what if there is nothing else, Howard so sweetly would respond, “It’s just as likely that there is something else as there is not … What if?”

What if?