‘Dancing in Two Realms — a Love Story Beyond Death’ explores connecting with afterworld
By Marilyn L. Pinsky
Sometimes after the loss of a loved one we have the feeling that they are still with us but just out of reach.
We attribute those feelings either to wishful thinking or to our grieving state of mind. But what if there are signs that seem too real to dismiss?
Anne Marie and Judge Thomas (Tim) Higgins had a wonderful love affair that ended much too soon with Tim’s death 17 days shy of their 25th wedding anniversary. But did it really end?
The name Thomas Higgins, Jr. might sound familiar to Central New Yorkers. The Higgins family was active in local politics for many years and Tim, a Syracuse City Court judge, was a highly respected person in the community. Because he was physically active and healthy, his death from an aggressive form of leukemia just 18 days after diagnosis was a shock.
“Soon after Tim died, I started feeling his presence,” said his widow, Anne Marie. “For example, the animals in our back yard started acting out of character and my cats would sniff his chair and meow as if he were still in it. I found myself asking out loud, ‘Timmy, are you here?’
“Given my devastating grief and the fact that I was so desperate for his physical being, I just chalked it up to that. I didn’t know anything about an afterlife which could possibly explain what I was experiencing.”
In her recently published book, “Dancing in Two Realms — A Love Story Beyond Death,” Higgins relates the story of her trip to St. Barts two weeks after the funeral. “The day I went to scatter some of Tim’s ashes was sunny and beautiful without a cloud in the sky. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a burst of rain. This was the first time I allowed myself to imagine it was possible for him to come to me. After that, I began to believe he was still here in some form, just not in his physical being.”
“When I got home from my trip, I had to deal with the legal issues that follow a death,” Higgins said. “I found myself searching our file cabinet to find important papers, but when they were not there, I couldn’t figure out where Tim had put them. Suddenly I heard him speak clearly in my left ear, ‘It’s all in the safe in the basement.’ Then I asked, ‘Damn, I don’t know the combination. Where did you put it?’”
“‘Look in the record album of Verdi’s opera, La Forza del Destino,’ Tim’s voice whispered again in my left ear,” she said.
After that correct message, signs of his presence kept occurring over and over, she said.
“I didn’t know what was happening to me and I thought I was going crazy. I contacted a friend, Alexandra, who is an astrologer and she confirmed Tim was communicating with me,” Higgins said. “Then I found a Reiki master, Patsy Scala, who told me things about my husband that she would have had no reason to know and she also confirmed he was communicating with me.”
The more things kept happening, the more she sought out alternative healers to continue connecting with her husband, as connecting through other people was validating.
“But in the end it was Tim who gave me the most reason to believe that we do not end,” she said.
Higgins relates that her husband started appearing to her in hawks.
“Five months after Timmy died, I needed eye surgery and was very upset about it. A few days before the procedure, as I was driving to Skaneateles on an errand, a huge hawk flew directly by my window, parallel to the car,” she said. “I don’t know why, but I asked, ‘Timmy?’ On my return trip another hawk flew right in front of the car window and stared at me. When I got home and typed ‘hawk, animal symbolism’ into the computer search engine, it said, ‘hawks are messengers from the spirit world; they are protectors and have keen eyesight.’”
“From that point forward, I knew I would be fine with Tim watching over me. Happily, he continues to come to me in hawks; it is quite lovely,” she added.
Other ways of seeing Tim’s presence have been in digital photographs that she took after he died.
“There were often several round white, misty circles in the picture which I now know as orbs. I was skeptical of giving them meaning until I couldn’t deny my senses. Patsy explained that when the soul leaves the body, the energy concentrates into a round mass that shows up in pictures as orbs,” Higgins said.
Several of these orbs and other amazing pictures are included in her book.
Higgins says getting involved with a widow support organization called Soaring Spirits International was a big step in helping her through the grieving process and in going forward with her life. “They have online support groups, a blog and hold three weekend conferences per year called Camp Widow. I’ve been to nine camps over five years. When I’m with hundreds of widowed people, I feel like I’m home. These are people that understand me; they don’t say, ‘Get over it’. It’s a place you can just be yourself,” she said.
“After hearing many of us experienced signs that a loved one is still with us, I started a roundtable discussion that is held on Fridays at camp,” she said. “It helps to know you are not the only one receiving these signs. On Saturday, there are wonderful workshops about topics relevant to widowed life and that evening, we enjoy a semi-formal dinner dance. It’s a real party and you feel like you’re alive again. Then on a Sunday, a 5K is held in honor of our loved ones.”
Camp Widow West takes place in San Diego in the summer, Camp Widow East in Tampa in the winter and Camp Widow International in the fall in Toronto.
In addition to talking about life after death, the book is an honest, raw and wonderful look at the life of a couple that like many have experienced both joy and sadness. In the book, Higgins thanks her therapist, Linda Land, who not only helped her with the loss of Tim, but also helped them cope with the disappointments of multiple infertility treatments and their aftermaths.
And after six-and-a-half years without Tim?
“His communications are less frequent but there are times when I feel he is here, and it brings much comfort. And also, now that I know there is something beyond physical death, I’m not afraid to die.”
Editor’s note: More information about the book can be found at www.dancingintworealms.com. Information about Soaring Spirits International and Camp Widow can be found at www.soaringspirits.org.