This is an excerpt from my book: Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks

Another spirit I’d known in this life began calling on me regularly since I’d come to the island. The woman who was my babysitter when I was a child was a grandmother to me. She first appeared randomly in my dreams, but then her visits began to take on meaning. I hadn’t seen her during the last few years of her life and always regretted never saying goodbye.

I was in a dimly lit living room with the shades drawn. Pauline sat low on an old sofa with green and gold floral print. She was plump like I remembered her in one of her big, soft housedresses. The room was smokey with rays of light coming in through the cracks in the curtains. I knew she was dying.

“You should get going to class,” she encouraged. She was right; it was nearly time for my college courses to start.

“I don’t want to leave you,” I shyly admitted.

“All will be well,” she comforted, “come here and give me a hug.”

I approached her and bent over to wrap my arms around the round woman now on in years. She felt frail under my arms. The sweet scent of her housedress rubbed my chin. Her tight, gray curls tickled my cheek. Her arms engulfed me. I leaned into her and whispered, “goodbye grandma.”

I felt myself lifting up with her spirit as it left her body. For a moment, I held the embrace and revealed in the weightlessness. I felt so free. Then, self-conscious, I pulled back into my own body. I stood aside and watched her spirit ascend.

My wrist-watch alarm woke me from my otherworldly dream hours before dawn. I ate breakfast staring at three black windows and packed carefully for a cross-island trip. A setting three quarter moon surrounded by haunting, wispy clouds loomed ahead as I climbed Manzanita Hill. The scene was the perfect backdrop for a horror movie, and after my strange dream it felt as if I was walking the land of the dead. What was I doing here? In answer, a shrill, blood-curdling scream erupted from the darkness around me. I stopped, my muscles surging in anguish against the anxiety. I spun to face the tormenting barn owl that had released his shriek. I let out a madwoman’s scream of my own. Hearing my voice so similar to his raised my courage. His ghostly white figure glowing in the moonlight stealthily disappeared into the night sky. Just then my grandmother’s house came to mind. She had owl figures and pictures decorating her entire house. This was becoming way too real.