Carol and Ken Jones, 2010
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Vol 28 Issue 4 of the print New Day Herald, March 2015. The article is used in the new Joyful Transitions PTS class brought forward by Carol Jones.
Many of us were witness to the beautiful, powerful process of our friend Ken Jones’ passing from this world in 2010, and the way he and his wife Carol engendered support from the MSIA community at the time. I interviewed Kenny for the NDH when he was in the process of his illness and wanted to revisit the subject again now with Carol, to find out about her journey and the book that she has written about it. Carol has been exploring and holding a focus for peaceful and joyful end-of-life transition in various ways since then. We met again in her cozy room at Prana.
KM: How long has it been since Ken passed away?
CJ: It will be five years March 30th.
KM: It’s interesting to me that we have a trip to the south of France with John Morton coming up this fall, which has a focus on the Christ and resurrection. That’s something I believe we all have as our ultimate heritage and I think it’s timely that MSIA ministers have an opportunity to really put the loving into their awareness of the dying process, and how we might come to help take care of each other along the way. I know you’ve been working on a book about your experience with you and Kenny, to look at your lessons and what the transition process was like for you. Can you tell me more about your experience with writing the book?
CJ: I’m looking at this picture of Kenny and it’s reminding me that I had a dream about him this morning in s.e.’s. I looked into those amazing blue eyes and with glee in my own eyes, I said, “You’ve come back!” It was just a very deep moment to capture those eyes again. And I’m not surprised he should make himself available before this interview. People tell me he has come to others in their dreams to let them know he acknowledges their love for him and that contacting those who have passed over can be real.
KM: That’s so sweet. The “Loving Each Day” quotation from John-Roger this morning was about how there’s no time and everything actually happens right now. You two had a beautiful relationship and I know it was really deep during the time you spent together working with his condition. What was it, a year that you were basically working together?
CJ: It was actually nine months. He was diagnosed in June of 2009 and he passed in March of 2010. The interview you did with him in 2010 in The New Day Herald was published just before he went to Houston for treatment at the Burzynski Clinic. And that was probably one of the most harrowing months of our lives. Because when they did the scan to see the progression of the cancer, so they would know how to treat him, every single area of his body lit up with what’s called metabolic activity, which is what happens when you have cancer. Even the radiologist was daunted by it. Kenny asked, “Can you help me?” And he said, “I don’t know if we can, but we’ll try.”
We walked away from that in a daze. But on his way out of that office, Kenny turned back and said, “Maybe I’ll be the Burzynski poster child.” Which was really typical of him in his optimistic view. That’s a lot of what I wrote about in the book. And I think that’s what helped him pass from this world in a really peaceful and joyful way.
KM: I’ve been reading the book and remembering what you said about the clinic and how he really kept a focus that he would get well, until he said, “I’m not sure if I’m gonna make it.” I think that’s a process that a lot of people who have illness will go through. First, they say “Well you know I’m gonna fight this, I’m gonna get better,” And then at some point, they come to saying, “Well, no I’m not. I’m not going to come out of this healthy.”
That to me is part of what this book really presents to people—especially with John Roger’s passing in October, and the fact that we’re all going to have health until we don’t. Just the idea of mortality and that, yes, I’m giving over, as I lovingly surrendering to the process of dying. It’s a really powerful thing. I think you present that so beautifully in the book.
CJ: Well he was really the smart one about it. Because I was resisting. I realized in February when I took that picture of him that this could be the end. But I kept pushing all of that down and not accepting it, because like I said in the book, “We’re in treatment, aren’t we? Aren’t we still focused on that?” And Kenny took that to mean I couldn’t handle his passing at that point, which was true. As I began to write, all of these realizations came forward about that. I didn’t know at the time that I was resisting his dying. I just thought that I was following whatever I thought I was supposed to be doing. I supported him, and at the same time other people stepped in where I couldn’t. Like dear friend MSIA Minister Babalola from Hous- ton, who sat and listened to Kenny talk through the night about dying when I couldn’t. And then finally his oncologist mentioning for the third time that there is hospice as the final alternative. In March, Kenny jumped on that. He said “That’s what I wanna do.” And I was just a puddle at that point, because finally reality was setting in.
But what I really want to share is the power of writing. Many of the lessons didn’t come to conscious awareness until I started writing. The writing process, oh my God, it is just so amazing because it starts opening up memories and pathways and understandings that weren’t coming to me by just ruminating in my mind. The writing became a therapeutic tool of unveiling, unraveling, revealing, resolving and coming to peace with my profound loss, and finally my own transformation in consciousness. It would only come through the actual task of writing. And I was compelled from then on, with the support of people who were reading the blog, to continue to write until I had no more stories to tell. And so that’s why there’s a whopping fifty-five chapters in the book. Because I wrote about every single powerful experience I could remember, and there were so many.
KM: In your book there’s the multidimensional aspect of a bunch of different people’s points of view, and how they supported from all sides. The way you included so many people’s responses to the blog, where they sent Light or gave Kenny their support, was just a really beautiful way to do it. It seems to me that the process of the blog, and the book, was basically like an archaeological research project into your own life. And you came up with beautiful conclusions and awarenesses of past patterns and relationships, and maybe an overview, that you didn’t have before you started writing.
CJ: That’s true. Things didn’t come forward until they came forward, and when they did, I sort of wrung their necks until I was done wring- ing, and delved as deeply as I could into the excavation of each chapter’s story. Then when I was compiling the book, there were hundreds of messages from people, hundreds of messages from J-R and John, relevant quotes from everywhere, and messages from our end-of-life advisor that talked about the reality of the dying process, and how what happened with us was normal in so many different ways.
Some of the most precious parts of the book for me are messages I received inwardly from Kenny after he passed into Spirit. He was comforting. He gave clear information. He outlined how the cancer embedded in his body, how he allowed it really. He shared words of wisdom and deep love and understanding. And the truth of what he shared was the most outstanding quality. Truth in unconditional loving. I treasure that these were captured in the book.
KM: You seem to still be in deep rapport even when the structure of your relationship has changed. What would you say have been your learnings?
CJ: Oh my gosh, so many. But the most important learning was about how Kenny and I came together as people who had a pocketful of personality issues to work out. And we, of course, were doing the best we could at any given moment. But there were lots of limitations. And a lot of that was based in fear of losing each other. So there was a lot of avoiding our own personal issues to “save” the relationship. And it didn’t crystallize for me until after he passed and I started going through new personal therapies myself, that the root of the issues had a lot to do with traumatic experiences in our individual pasts. For me it has been about healing the nerve pathways so that they could expand and I could have more choices of how to respond to things other than fear. So fear of losing him kept me kind of frozen in a way. And that’s just talking about the emotional level. There are so many levels of a relationship.
Our marriage vows were very important to us. We fulfilled them in so many different ways, just in who we were and how we stood by each other. I could look at that as fear of losing him or I could look at that as “Wow, we really abided by what we said we were going to do.” There’s a chapter called, “It’s All in How You Look at It.” It’s about his last leaving. It’s all in how you look at it.
KM: In my perception you were able to go beyond the personality issues and reach into the unconditional loving for each other. And really the unconditional loving for God. What I experienced was you both looking towards God together, and rising up in the process of his letting go of the body.
CJ: As soon as his diagnosis was pronounced, all of those personality issues dissolved into “Let’s do what we can to take care of Ken and give him the longest life possible.” And so we forgave each other for judging all the past hurts, indiscretions and not-so-high- est-good decisions, and we went forward like a little army “toward the one.” All those things that used to bother us—I’ll say me—all those things that used to bother me completely dissolved away because that wasn’t the focus anymore. It couldn’t be the focus anymore if I was going to be any help to him.
CJ: And so we went forward with a spiritual focus powerfully in front of our eyes every day, because there was no other way to do it. It taught us so much about how to let other people care for us, for one thing. And it taught so much about prayer. We learned to pray for “at least God, the next step. Tell us what the next step is going to be. And please fill in the gaps.” Because there were so many unknowns. Every day there was another unknown. “And show us at least what we need to do right now.” And it did. Over and over again it did. It was amazing. God is amazing!
KM: Sounds like it made you stay really present.
CJ: Made us stay really present, yes!
KM: So what advice would you give to someone who’s facing a terminal illness or someone in a relationship with a person with a terminal illness?
CJ: Kenny had a lot to say in the book about facing a terminal illness. Through the blog, he wrote many of the chapters. For example, if you don’t already have a natural, positive outlook on life, develop that as fast as you possibly can. And to seek guidance from Spirit. There were many times when I could hear Spirit talking through him. And I tried to record those as best I could. For instance, there are two quotes that appear on the book cover that just say everything about who he was.
He said, “I don’t know what Spirit has in store for me. I will keep breathing as long as Spirit gives me breath. And if melanoma absolutely must claim my body it can have it. Melanoma cannot go where I go because I go into the pure Spirit of the Soul realm. That is my true home.” That was one quote. And the other that was just as poignant was during a conversation with John Morton and Leigh Taylor-Young Morton when they came to visit just about seven days before he left. John said something like, “Well I see that your ministry is on fire. And I can tell that by being here with you and having talked to people who have visited you.” And Ken said back to him, “Glad to be of service! If people could discover the joy I’m having now they’d stop doing whatever they’re doing and start doing what I’m doing.” He said all that with a smile and a chuckle. And it was just such a glorious way to end that visit from John and Leigh.
KM: Yeah, his attitude was pretty amazing.
CJ: His attitude was amazing. And for me, the lessons I learned were to do whatever you need to do as a caregiver and spouse or family member to accept what’s going on as soon as possible, and to open up the channels to share from the deepest place possible so that you each have moments to treasure and don’t regret withholding anything before the person leaves.
KM: Yeah, sounds to me like really taking advantage of the opportunity that’s there to love fully.
CJ: Right. There was a moment like that just a few days before Ken passed that I wrote about: “So now in my memories whenever I may picture those last hours of Kenny’s life, I turn to remember the long moment just days before he passed. He took my face in his hands and for a very long time he held his gaze on my eyes in silent communion. The world stood waiting outside our little bubble. It could have waited forever as I soaked in the loving we shared. It shall always remain a divine Soul to Soul moment when time stood still. When nothing else mattered. When his death was imminent but still so far away. Outside the bubble for now.” There were many moments like that when the smallest things became a beautiful connection.
KM: I remember J-R talking at several points about preparing for death and dying. I think as some people in the MSIA community get older and we really face our mortality, at different rates of course, there’s really an opportunity to love each other and be there for each other. You and Kenny were such a great example of setting aside the personality and just going for the loving in the time that you had. A beautiful thing.
CJ: And when you say the MSIA community takes care of each other, you know that that happened 150 percent in our case here at Prana and in Los Angeles. Many people supported us. You, for one. Helping Kenny take showers, and helping me write the papers for the mortuary. All the folks that did the juicing, ordered produce, laundry, meals, prayer communion. It took a village. I don’t know how we would have done it without our beloved friends, family really.
And then there was the Circle of Light when ministers came for a whole week, 24/7 to be with us and just to hold the Light. That was an amazing experience of comfort and knowing that someone was always there that we could depend on to be holding the spiritual focus and to do anything we asked if we needed it. There is one chapter in the book called, “Standing in for God” that was written as an outstanding example of one of those ministers, Diana, who came to hold the Light in the middle of the night. And that happened to be the night that Kenny woke me up and startled me by saying, “Carol, tonight’s the night. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna go tonight.” I started fumbling, saying all kinds of things I could think of like, “Kenny, I love you, God bless you,” and he responded clearly, “Don’t try to hold me back!” This was profound in itself, and spoke of his focus on where he was going. Diana heard all that and stayed until she absolutely had to go in the early daylight hours of the morning. He actually lived another four or five days, but she was just right in there with us. In her giving of her heart, she’s the one that said, “I felt like I was standing in for God.” Oh, that was just so touching! My heart opened when I heard her say that, and to this day the connection is still there.
I became so aware there is a community that really responds to each other on so many levels, even if we may not be conscious of it. It reminds me to share also that one Prana resident knew when Kenny was passing and sensed a chorus of angels was greeting him. Later on, I heard from someone else that he knew when Kenny was passing, and how glorious the transition was. And his wife—though they hadn’t been conferring with each other–said the same thing! “I knew when Kenny was going.” I am so grateful to be part of that sacred connection, and try to give back as much as I possibly can. A number of people have passed since Kenny’s transition, and I made it my assignment to be available for Circle of Light whenever I could.
After all, J-R’s been teaching us for however many years it is now that all it is is walking through the door into the spiritual realms. And if we could dispel all the myths that have captured our imagination over our lifetime and apply J-R’s teachings, we could glimpse a little bit of the brilliance that death is.
KM: Right. It’s like the ultimate and final s.e.’s to me.
CJ: I am working on a class for PTS that is tentatively being called, “Joyful Transitions.” And I hope to get the essence of Kenny’s message (which is really the same as J-R’s message about death and dying) into that class and to help prepare us in a peaceful and joyful way for that passing.
KM: Thanks Carol, it’s nice sharing with you, in my experience you and Kenny, and you now specifically carrying it on by writing the book, have really been way showers in terms of a graceful, beautiful process of letting go. Light ahead for all of us as we learn the lessons of the Traveler, and rise ever higher! Baruch Bashan!
If you’d like to hear more about the PTS class, “Joyful Transitions,” please email Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org.