Six Years Later.

Thursday July 1, 2021



When the unthinkable happens, can you still fulfill your cosmic destiny?

How do you integrate your multidimensionality, when it all seems impossible?

If you knew what’s on the “other side", would you live your life any differently than you are in this moment, right now?

As a millennial who has experienced a Starseed awakening in the aftermath of trauma, I’m here to tell you… ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

– Rumi, A Great Wagon

“I’ve been to three party supply stores and this is all I could find. I know you wanted more, but I hope this is alright.”

My mom hands me five heart-shaped Mylar balloons and averts her eyes as I tie them to the bag of supplies I’ve gathered.

“It’s ok. This is fine.”

“I tried, honey. You know he is still going to love that you’re doing this for him, even if it isn’t just as you imagined.”

 It has been exactly one year since my husband, Kristian, died in a helicopter crash, and I am met with the remnants of the hot July evening that indelibly changed the course of my life. This isn’t my first “memorial day” rodeo. I think back to last year and the awkward two-step of figuring out whether we were supposed to do anything when March 10th rolled around, to mark one year since my father’s passing from brain cancer. Kristian, my mom, and I ultimately settled on watching the DVD of his funeral, sobbing between shots of Jameson thrown back in his honor. Figuring out how I was expected to feel and behave on July 1st seemed like a much more arduous and critical task. There is no manual for memorializing your young, dead husband, especially when there are still zero answers on why he is gone in the first place.

I load the balloons, a bunch of candles, a letter I had written, flowers, and one of the poster board photos from his funeral display into the back of my car. My mom gets in, and for a moment I wish I were making the drive alone. She holds a map of the crash site the investigators had given to me; a crude Google printout marked with GPS coordinates and a red dot near the upper right corner.
The drive from Portland to Newberg is quiet, and the weather is similar to this same night last year. It was unseasonably hot for Oregon, still 95 degrees during their 10:00 p.m. takeoff, a full moon illuminating the empty field below. Perfect conditions for night flying, for learning how the instruments looked in the dark while still being able to visually assess altitude. I imagine the moon lighting up his face, his child-like smile at being in the cockpit, pure joy that could only come with being a bird for a small moment in time.

Evergreen rolling hills turn to charred wheat fields dotted with deciduous trees, the road narrows as the turns become sharper and more frequent. I check the GPS as we make our way closer to the airpark. I turn up the radio to drown out my constant inner vacillation. Kristian is speaking to me a lot lately, so I should have almost expected to hear one of our songs come through the speakers. The pulsing beat of “Moth’s Wings," one of the more important songs on the soundtrack to our love story, pumps through the car as I approach the field. I guess he knows I’m close. I hastily change the station and my mom reaches to squeeze my hand.

Our map leads us to a small church parking lot facing a large, open field. It is a dry caldera: rising hillsides circumscribe the perimeter, homes perch atop an undulating sea of foxtails. I had never been to the airpark or the surrounding acreage. It is achingly beautiful. I mutter something fairly tasteless to my mom like, “Well, he sure picked a pretty place to die,” and slam the car door.

I grab the bag of supplies and balloons out of the back and lean against the warm metal. I’m not sure how long I should wait for his friends to arrive, or how long I even want to stay. I don’t know how much time I want to spend looking for the site. I question whether I am ready to see what might be there. The hot, dry air stings in my nostrils. I nervously wonder not if, but when, I will see the vivid apparition of his being that continues to haunt me.

My mom silently canvasses the landscape that looms in front of us. She is there with me in solidarity, as chapter president of our Widow’s Club cohort. Neither of us wanted to be in the club, but at least we joined together. If anything, I know I can’t turn around and leave, because maybe she’s looking for something in this ritual too. Maybe she needs to find a sliver, however small, of healing in this evening, to put a bit of salve over her heart at the premature loss of her beloved son-in-law, and I can’t bear to take that from her.

A small red car whips down the gravel driveway and parks next to us. Kristian’s best friend, Aris, a tall, muscular figure with kind brown eyes, and his girlfriend, Steph, get out of the car, and envelop me in the same tearful embrace I was met with at 3:00 a.m., when waves of friends poured into the house I was taken to upon learning of the accident 365 nights ago. Steph’s long, graceful arms tangle between Aris’ and mine, and I feel the love they have for their lost friend. I feel the sorrow that still looms over all of us. I feel their comfort and am glad to see them. Aris asks me if I know where we should be looking, and I hand him the map. His allergies are in full swing and he will be miserable out in that field, but he is the first to pick up my bag of things and trudge off into the knee-length grass. Steph hugs me again and says she is going to help find the site, I can wait in the parking lot for as long as I need to.

My mom follows, and for a moment, I am alone. The sun is cresting behind the western hillside and casting a golden haze on my face. I am reminded of Rumi, the poet Kristian and I used to read to one another in the evenings.

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there."

There are so many things he has told me since that unseasonably warm evening one year ago, that I know being in this field is no mistake. This hallowed place is where his soul chose to leave. He is not the only one who broke the bonds of Earth here, and my thoughts turn to Tony, the pilot whom I had never met but heard so much about. I think about Tony’s fiancée and want to know if she talks with him the same way I talk to Kristian. If her heart aches as much as mine does, or if she has moved on in her own way. I wonder if she will ever visit this field, if she has the same map that Aris is hurriedly carrying into the illuminated horizon.

I am broken from my reverie by the sound of laughter, and see the golden outline of two figures in the distance. An overwhelming sense of peace washes over me as I recognize my father standing with Kristian by his side. They are talking wildly, laughing, gesturing in the direction of my mom, Stephanie, and Aris. They turn to look at me, and I hold their gaze.
“You two are right on time,” I whisper.

I feared this moment, my hesitancy during the drive here tempered with thoughts of how I would feel in their presence. I am ashamed for feeling the spiritual awakening Kristian had led me to at his time of death is somehow a burden. This great secret I hold stands before the locked gates of healing and dangles the keys in front of me like a carrot on a stick. The weight of what he had shown me that fateful night is crushing me from the inside out, so much so that I want nothing to do with his memory at times … the secret purely existing to make my grief messier and more complex. Guilt was my white flag; I knew the inevitable sight of him in the field where he died would bring me to shame for the way I had been sorting through my own trauma.

I focus my gaze and to my surprise, I see something so pure and wonderful that I want to freeze this moment in time and space and be inside of it forever. I see a father and a son enjoying each other’s company. I see Kristian, who tirelessly took care of my dad during his cancer treatments, feeling loved and cared for by someone who filled the void of father figure he had longingly searched for. I see humility in my dad, who learned so much from Kristian during their brief time together. There is an unbreakable bond between them that transcends the physical plane.

I think about our last Christmas as a family. My mom decided we all needed to go on a cruise together, and my dad begrudgingly agreed. He was a quiet, but clever man who chose his words wisely. A master of sarcasm, his trademark smirk the only tell that he was pulling someone’s leg. He wasn’t afraid to call out life’s irony, and told my mom that cruises were “for geezers who don’t know how to entertain themselves.”

Nevertheless, there we were, in the middle of the Caribbean during a roiling storm on Christmas Day, the upper deck being lashed by a constant barrage of rain and more than half of the passengers suffering from seasickness. This kind of scenario would normally annoy my father to no end. Our entertainment options limited, we holed up in the onboard Karaoke bar, and my father giddily challenged Kristian to a game of darts. Their bet was the loser had to drink an Irish Car Bomb, a disgusting mix of Bailey’s and Guinness that would curdle the instant they touched. My mom and I smiled at the sight of my dad being goofier than he had been in years. Kristian had an unmistakable way of bringing that out of him. I wonder out loud how many Irish Car Bombs they had done together while we weren’t looking, and if that’s what they’re laughing about now.
A sharp breeze cuts across my face and I am startled by the sound of gravel churning and screeching tires. My friend Purtle gets out of her car in a cloud of dust, and they are gone.

“It’s fucked up, man.”

She’s always had a way with words, and is usually a talker, but this is all she says to me as we embrace. I can tell she’s been smoking cigarettes; constant stress is eating away at her psyche and her exhaustion is revealed in the pale red tinge sharply contrasting against her bright blue irises. She didn’t have to be here for me, but she is a good friend, who loved Kristian too. After our wedding reception, she asked if she could have all of the multicolored balls of tissue paper we had hand-assembled for the decor, so she could hang them in her apartment. She drew inappropriate pictures in our guestbook. She was a welcome reprieve from the seriousness of our lives. (Spoiler alert: I will be the one to eventually fuck up our friendship).

Purtle looks at me as though I’m a puppy caught in the rain. She is completely out of her depth in this situation. Aris comes to her rescue and approaches us, covered in sweat and hundreds of tiny lacerations on his shins.

“Hey. I think we found it. Your mom and Steph are out there getting everything set up. Are you ready to come with me?”

I gulp back tears and look at Purtle. She squeezes my hand, and I tell Aris to lead the way. We begin marching through the field, every step inflicting small cuts on my bare legs. I keep my eyes to the ground as I try to lift my knees as high as I can to mitigate the damage. The grass is a strange mix of hay, foxtails, and rough weeds. The property belongs to the church and they clearly never come out to tend it. I wonder to myself what they thought about the crash, whether anyone was there to see their unkempt field ablaze.

An oasis in the desert, we come upon a large, circular clearing. My mom and Steph have arranged the candles in a small circle on the barren ground. I know this must be the place, the red dot on the Google map the accident investigator provided. The remains of the field surround this swath like the dancing brooms in Fantasia I remember watching as a child. I tell myself like the brooms, none of this could possibly be real.

The ground that meets my knees is scorched. There are bolts, washers, and unrecognizable, twisted shards of metal. I can’t help but think about how much of their remains are still left here. Features of my father’s watch eviscerate my mind’s eye and I long to dig through the earth to find it, though I know my efforts will be futile. The hundred-year-old gold wedding band Kristian wore was miraculously returned to me after the fire. The watch he affixed to his left wrist in memory of my father was not. The phantom weight of his cremated body aches within my forearms. I brace myself for seeing something I am not prepared for, while my mom pulls me to my feet.

“Sweetie, we came here for you. Whatever you need to do here, this is your time. Just let us know what you want us to do.”

I compose myself and find the book of poetry I brought in the bottom of the bag. I ask everyone to light a candle. Aris digs a small hole and takes the poster board photo of Kristian that I glued onto a paint stick. We plant the photo into the ground like a flag, as if he hasn’t already claimed this space as his own.

I begin to read aloud as tears stream down my face. All of us are crying. The hot wind threatens to extinguish the candles, patches of Queen Anne’s lace that grew in the aftermath of the fire sway in the breeze. There is not a sound beyond that of my voice. He is here, and he is listening. He knows this is where I have been since he died. Here, in this open field, is where he left me to rest after telling me he was leaving, after taking me to the void, after pulling back the veil of space and time to reveal where he was headed. This is the explanation for the part of me that is missing, the part of me that will take years to reclaim and invite back into my own flesh. Rumi’s words bellow out of my mouth, almost like an incantation, asking permission to stay here until I know more. Though I have never visited in the year that has passed, this field seems familiar and in this moment I realize why.

Part of me will make a home of it.

Steph hands me the balloons and asks if I want to tie them to the post. I want to let them go, Kristian would rather watch something fly. We untangle the white ribbons and each take one. In unison, we count to three, and watch as a cluster of shining red hearts lift into the ether, floating effortlessly into the purple-orange sky. I watch them rise until I can’t see them anymore, just like I watched Kristian’s white Miata sail over the 405 bridge on his way to flight school the night he died. Purtle blows out the candles and fishes a pair of the Wayfarer party favor sunglasses she had kept from our wedding reception out of her pocket. She puts them on top of the bouquet of flowers my mom placed under Kristian’s photo and gives me a long hug, her eyes red. She tells me I can stay here as long as I need to, but it is getting dark. One by one, my mom and friends begin to march through the weeds toward the parking lot, and I am alone.

There is a letter to Kristian scribbled on notebook paper I had hastily wedged in between the pages of the poetry book. It was written months prior, my grief still as fresh as the night we came here to memorialize. I tuck it underneath the sunglasses, not remembering entirely what it says. This is what I feel like I am supposed to do … leave a letter and some flowers in the only place on earth that feels like Kristian’s grave.

I have spent so much time trying to figure out how I am “supposed” to grieve—What is too much? What is too little? Well-meaning friends have handed me books on the subject written for much older women and every piece of advice I seem to dig up leaves me feeling more lost than before. I slip into a toxic pool of self-judgment for every little screw-up I’ve made over the last year. Part of me hopes the letter has some anger woven in, a foreign burst of rage, demanding an apology for his sudden absence. As if this apology will give all of my missteps and shortcomings a bit of grace.
I am sure my mom and friends expect me to linger here for a while as they wait in the parking lot. I already know this place. I have seen all I need to see. I have felt everything I need to feel. I turn around to follow Purtle through the weeds, the bright moon looking on as a guardian over Kristian’s poster board face that will see endless days of sun and rain, eventually disintegrating into another fragment indistinguishable from the dusty ground.

I'm Saoirse,
a.k.a The Starseed Coach.

I’m a Starseed on a mission to help you uncover what serves you, what motivates you, which relationships help unleash your mojo, and whether you’re living your life with true intention as a co-creator with the universe.

When I was 27, I lost my Dad to brain cancer. When I was 28, my husband suddenly passed in a tragic helicopter accident. My life was broken into so many pieces, and just when I thought lightning couldn’t strike three times in one place, it did:


hey there!

I had a spiritual awakening.

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