Almost two months to the day after GR died I flew to Los Angeles by myself.
My dear friend Kelli lives in Santa Monica with her husband Greg and their daughter Ruby. She had called me a few days after GR died to tell me that they were all going to New Zealand for six weeks (where Greg’s from) and that I could stay in their apartment for as long as I wanted. “You have to!” she said. “It’ll be the perfect place for you to begin your healing journey!”
She was right.
I stayed in California for more than three weeks. This is about how those weeks went: sleep, cry, eat, cry, go to the beach, cry, see friends, cry, drink wine, cry, wander aimlessly, cry, read, cry, meditate, cry, ride bikes, cry, sleep more, cry, shop, cry, pray, cry.
I also drove to Big Sur for a few days to scatter GR’s ashes. It’s one of the four places he’d requested I scatter them. The two of us had gone on vacation there a year prior and both fell in love with the place, which is not hard to do.
My dear friend Mimi, who is the childhood bestie of Kelli, flew out to L.A. to make the road trip with me to Big Sur. We also made an appointment to see a shaman, the Big Sur Shaman. His birth name is Rob Somers. He lives in a yurt in the Redwoods of Big Sur, about 45 minutes from where we were staying. I was looking for some serious healing and Shaman Rob’s thing is to help you find your way back to your healed state. I couldn’t have been more ready for that.
The day of our appointment, Mimi and I are nothing but excited as we drive to meet Shaman Rob. But as we turn off the big, main road to the one-lane, winding road covered with a canopy of Redwood trees where he lives, we start to second-guess some things.
For the entire two miles of this road we half-seriously, half-jokingly, fully-laughingly ask each other:“Now, who the hell is Shaman Rob again? And, how did you find him? Where the hell are we? Maybe the person who doesn’t go first should just sit and wait while the other is in the yurt? Do we have cell phone service? What if he is a phony and a murderer? Who would we call if we need to be rescued? Does anyone that knows us know where we are right now? Are we going to die here—today?”
Sometimes self-professed healers can be phonies and freaks and take your money without delivering the services they promise. So, of course, it was natural that we were wondering if Rob would be one. I had a feeling that he wasn’t, but I’ve also been called naive and too trusting before, so there’s that. I was desperate for some true healing so I was banking on Rob being legit. Please, Shaman Rob, don’t kill us. I really need you to be real. I really need this, really, really badly.
Shaman Rob had told me in our prior email communication that the one of us who’s waiting while the other’s in session can go to the beach up the road or have lunch at a restaurant on the beach. Mimi and I, however, decide in the car that the one who doesn’t go first will wait on the other, right outside the yurt, in case there needs to be a quick getaway. In case Rob is a murderer. Because we are smart. We are not naive or overly trusting.
We begin to relax. We say fuck it. Let’s do this. We drive up his driveway. Rob greets us. I felt that his energy was good and pure. He had intense but kind, clear, blue eyes. Eyes that look right down into your soul. I felt that we were safe. Mimi was a little more skeptical though. I found out after my session—I went first—that she spent her first 30 minutes outside the yurt looking for some kind of shiv in case she needed it. I don’t think she found one, and fortunately she didn’t need it anyway.
Shaman Rob ended up being the real deal. He steered my ship of darkness towards the light in a most critical time. I credit him with how I have navigated all of my days of intense grieving, from that day forward.
As I mentioned, I went first. We sat and talked for about 45 minutes. First, I told him all about me. Why I was there. That I’d spent the last seven months of my life in constant crisis mode, being a 24/7 caregiver to GR. That he had been healthy and strong and well up until his stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis in July 2015. That he got surgery, which the doctors claimed was a success. That they were “going for a cure.” That because he was so young and healthy that he had the best chances of survival of a grim prognosis. But in reality, that didn’t turn out to be the case. He just got sicker and sicker and sicker as the days went on. He developed pancreatitis (hell!), an infection outside his pancreas and in his bile ducts. He was in constant pain, he couldn’t eat, and chemo didn’t help him much. He had to get stents placed in his bile ducts on multiple occasions in the hospital. He also developed a C-diff infection because the chemo killed any kind of good bacteria he had in his body. We were in the hospital more than we weren’t in the hospital. He also developed ascites (abdominal fluid) that turned out to be malignant. This was terrible news, I could tell by the way the doctors told us.
I told Shaman Rob that GR never got a fucking break. That we were always behind the cancer eight ball. That anytime we got news it was usually bad news, the worst news. Constant. Crises. And that eventually, after weeks in a row of being in 24/7 pain that no pain meds could touch and vomiting constantly, with our support, he decided to stop treatment. His disease was too advanced and treatment wasn’t doing anything to help him. He had no quality of life. So he decided that he’d go home to be on hospice, to die. That when we left the hospital the doctors told us he’d “probably” have about two weeks left. He died in our house three days later.
I told Shaman Rob all of that through gushing tears. He listened intently, handing me Kleenex when I needed them.
When I finished, he looks at me, holds my hand and says, “Wow. Brooke, wow. I have so much empathy for you. I, too, had stage 4 colon cancer that I almost died from. And my wife was beside me the entire time. I must say, I don’t remember a lot of my pain, but, my wife, she remembers everything. She carries it around with her. I am so sorry. I have so much empathy for you. Do you know how brave you are?”
“Thank you,” I say, through tears. “No, I don’t really feel brave right now, but thank you. I’m so sorry that you had stage 4 colon cancer, but I’m so glad you healed from it. I’m so sorry that your wife remembers everything. It’s really, really hard to un-remember.”
He tells me his story and how he miraculously healed from stage 4 colon cancer after being told that he would die. That he was super depressed for a very long time leading up to his diagnosis. But after he got cancer, he looked to God, the Spirit, the universe, to heal him. That it didn’t matter what we called “it” but that “it” was greater than any of us. That he knew that he had more work to do on this Earth. That he wasn’t done yet. Rob’s illness and miraculous recovery ultimately sent him on his journey to healing and led him to a Shamanic training school for two years and then Peru to train with a Master Shaman.
What a coincidence that Shaman Rob had been through a similar situation as GR. But GR died and Shaman Rob lived. No sense is to be made of things like this. And I’m pretty sure there are no such things as coincidences either.
After we talk, he leads me to his table. It looks like a massage table. First he asks me to pick a stone from his collection that he’d built from his travels all over the world. I select a smooth, round, off-white stone from the Amazon. I lie down on the table and close my eyes. He tells me that if I feel overwhelmed at any time or would like him to stop the session, to just say the word. I never had to say the word.
He begins by tuning my chakras. This takes awhile. After about 15 minutes, I see with my internal eyes a bright pink lotus flower bloom at my heart center. He did not tell me to visualize this and I didn’t say anything about it. I saw it on my own.
Then he places the stone I selected at my heart center. He instructs me to inhale deeply and then exhale all of my pain into that stone. We do this over and over again while he repeats: “Come home, little one. It’s alright. Come home, little one.” He was talking out loud, summoning energy from the Spirit, from God, from the universe, from the land around us, to aid in my healing.
(Side note: He describes what shamans do a lot better than I can here if you’re curious.)
After the chakra tuning and the releasing of pain into the stone and his summons of energy from the Spirit, he tells me that we are done. That I should lie there as long as I’d like, until I’m ready to get up. “Don’t rush,” he says.
So I lie there for what feels like about 10 minutes. While I’m lying on the table, in the middle of the yurt, in the middle of the Redwood trees in Big Sur, I feel energizing beams of green light being directed at me from the trees. I am not making this up. It was so beautiful, so powerful, so energizing, so real. I felt the energy from the trees giving me strength and stability in a time when I needed it most.
I finally get up off the table. Shaman Rob is sitting quietly in a chair where we began the session. I sit on the couch across from him. He asks me how I feel.
“So much better, thank you,” I say. I describe the pink blooming lotus flower at my heart center. He tells me that when he was tuning my chakras, when he got to my heart chakra, it was basically blown out (those are my words, not his). He says that when he tried to put energy into it, it wouldn’t hold it. So he had to build it back. I am not surprised by this. Shaman Rob basically gave me a heart chakra transplant.
I also tell him about the energy I felt from the Redwoods. He tells me that is powerful and that the land has so much to offer us in the way of healing. I know he is right.
He asks if I’m ready to hear what he has to say to me.
“Yes, please. I’m ready.”
In the words of Shaman Rob (which I wrote down that day so I’d always remember):
I am brave.
I am courageous.
I am going to be fine…in time.
These are dark, heavy times for me, but I myself have little to no dark energy.
GR is at peace. He is okay. He is worried about me though. I have to let him go at some point, so that he does not have to worry about me.
We can source energy from different things in this world: light, joy, happiness, abundance…or the other. It’s my choice. I have an opportunity right now. To choose differently. To dream my life into being.
What happened with my dad set me up for what I had to go through with GR…and for the rest of my life.
My and GR’s souls had and have our own agreements, with ourselves and with each other. Our agreement is done. He made a sacrifice to rocket boost me into lightness. (I’m still trying to figure that one out, but maybe we don’t have to understand everything.)
GR had to go through what he had to go through to come to peace with whomever/whatever he needed to in his life. Physical pain is a way to burn up karma.
I must make two altars: one to my ancestry and loved ones, to communicate with them and honor them; the second for myself, for who I am going to become. I can dream my being into reality.
I might not see it like this TODAY, but the universe is being generous with me by giving me opportunities to transform/transcend and create a totally different life for myself.
When I was a little girl, I chose the struggle, the hardship, the sadness. Now I am a grown woman with power. I can choose differently. I’m going to be a very different woman moving forward.
I was a wife of a cancer victim and now a widow but eventually I must become ME.
Good things are coming my way. I’ll do great things. I’ll help people.
I should pat myself on the back for being so brave and for loving and taking care of my husband the way that I did. That he loved me so much too. We were supposed to go through that together.
And the last and maybe most important thing Shaman Rob tells me:
I must surrender to my faith and trust in something greater than I. That is what will carry me and take care of me. I have to surrender.
There was no way for me to process and digest everything that went on in that yurt right away, but as the days have gone by, I realize more and more just how much I owe to Shaman Rob. On the absolute darkest days of my life over the past year, I hear his voice in my mind: ‘We can source energy from different things in this world: light, joy, happiness, abundance…or the other. It’s my choice.’