By losing four members of my family and witnessing so much physical and emotional pain,
suffering and grief, it made me question my beliefs as I did not want to fear death and I needed to figure out what to believe in.
Through facing my life-long fears and challenging what I thought were my beliefs, I was able to open up my heart to the love of my family who predeceased me. By learning how to channel with them, I became their confidante where they relayed their very emotional life reviews to me.
Many of the lessons they were to learn on Earth, they did not face until they reached Heaven and had to review their lives. They wish to share this information with people so that we can learn how to love ourselves more and realize that we do not have to fear death.
Through their stories, I have learned how they had to come face-to-face with many of their lives' difficult issues, including alcohol abuse, control issues, bulimia, jealousy, molestation,
emotional abuse, abortion, adoption, dying, and what we are to learn from the grieving process.
If you have experienced grief beyond words or have experienced any of the issues in your life which my family had to learn from, it is our hope that their words of wisdom will assist you in healing and finding peace.
So, I invite you to open your minds and, hopefully, your hearts to my words and those of my beautiful family, and let your healing begin.
With love from Wendy and blessings from Lori, Jack, Sandra and Peter.
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Read an Excerpt
Life Reviews Love Reviews
How I reached out to the love of my deceased family and became their confidante ... til death do us part does not have to exist anymore
By Wendy McCoy
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Wendy McCoy
All rights reserved.
The Early Years
I grew up in northern Ontario in a loving, middle-class home in the 1960's. My parents worked extremely hard to provide everything their children needed and wished for. I was the second youngest, having an older brother, David; an older sister, Lori; a younger brother, Peter; and a twin brother, Wayne. Yes, Wendy and Wayne - how cute, eh? My Mom explained to me that my Dad just had to name Wayne after John Wayne, so it was either Wendy or Wanda for me. When my Mom was pregnant with Wayne and I, she was not aware that she was going to have twins since ultrasound technology was not available back then. My Mom went into labor at seven months, was rushed to the hospital and, while being rushed to the delivery room, the nurse asked her if she had any other children at home. My Mom replied that she had a boy and a girl, to which the nurse responded, "Good, because these ones might not make it." My twin brother and I were born fifteen minutes apart, collectively weighing just over six pounds, and we both spent the first month of our fragile little lives in an incubator. My Dad had told us that we were translucent and the length of a twelve-inch ruler. It was a miracle that we survived, especially back in the early 1960's.
Shortly after we were released from the hospital, my Mom became ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized. Back then, my parents did not have a lot of help from family. My Mom's mother lived in California, her brother lived two hours away, and my Dad's family was busy running their business. Needless to say, they were trying times for my parents and I can only fully appreciate it now that I am older and have children of my own.
Even though we weren't the richest family on the block, we had a ball! Our Dad took us snowmobiling in the winter and to the lake in the summer. His parents owned a hotel near a lake where my parents worked almost every weekend. All of us kids would have a blast swimming and carrying on. We had so much fun that we had absolutely no idea just how hard our parents were working in order to keep everyone happy.
When I was growing up, there was a lot of societal pressure to attend church every Sunday. I was raised Anglican and went to church briefly during my early childhood, but when life started to get too busy, my parents opted for family time instead of church time. Time was too precious. Through my parents' behavior as role models and their words of wisdom, along with life's trials and errors, we learned how to be good, moral kids with a clear understanding of right and wrong. They did not preach, but they knew just what to say and when in order to make us think and decide for ourselves about our actions and subsequent consequences.
When I was a young teen, my parents rented two cottages every summer for the month of August. One cottage was for the boys and my parents, and the other was for all of us girls. My sister and I would invite friends who would stay the whole month, and quite frankly, you don't want to know everything that went on. Suffice it to say, we played hard. Oh, the teenage years!
Those were the days we bonded closely as a family. The boys would go fishing and come back with all kinds of fish stories. And the girls would bask in the sun and swim all day long. My Dad would take us on long, leisurely boat rides and, every once in a while, when twilight struck and the moon shone bright, he would take us down to a creek we knick-named "Frankenstein's Creek". Trolling in between huge rock crevices with old trees and moss hovering down around us, it was the most awesome experience. We would get so creeped out, but we knew that we were absolutely safe and sound in the presence of my Dad.
My Mom was always prepared just in case it rained. When the weather turned foul, we would work on puzzles, play cards, and make loads of homemade eggrolls. They were so delicious! I recall she would save up shoe boxes throughout the year, bring them to the cottage, and we would make eggrolls until all the shoe-boxes were full. Then we would bring them home and throw them in the freezer for tasty after-school snacks.
We got to know everyone in the bay and our cottage became the local gathering place. Every night we would all gather around a huge bonfire and have so much fun telling scary stories, listening to the latest fish tale, laughing and joking until the wee hours. At that time of year, you could witness the magnificent beauty of the northern lights. David and I would often stroll down to our huge gravel dock and lie on our backs staring at the stars for what seemed like hours, waiting for the next shooting star. What an awesome sight to behold!
Those were the days. The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.
In a nutshell, that is what my family was about. Love, fun, and hard work. More love, more fun, and more hard work.
That's all we needed and I considered myself the luckiest girl on the block (even if I always got hand-me-down bikes).
Those were wonderful times when we could finally relax and enjoy all that family and nature had to offer. Life was magical, just like those shooting stars we saw flickering, streaking through the sky so beautifully, and then poof, they were gone.CHAPTER 2
Death Comes Knocking
Only the Good Die Young
When I was eighteen, I decided to move away from home to start my own life, much to my mother's dismay. I had finished college and wanted to experience a bigger city and all it had to offer, so I moved to Ottawa. My sister also decided to move and settled in Timmins where she would eventually become a police officer. Both of my brothers decided to stay in North Bay. I looked forward to holidays when we could all get back together for huge family dinners and catch up on each others' lives. When we did, it was like old times again (but even more fun now that we could understand and tell the odd dirty joke).
Life was pretty grand. I was living the single life in Ottawa (except for a short-lived marriage, but that's another story), enjoying my friends and my career.
Back home, David was living with our parents, and Wayne went back to school a couple of times in between layoffs at his job. Peter was in French immersion high school and was extremely athletic. Pete was amazing! He was smart, an excellent pole-vaulter (winning several medals), and was on his way to the provincial championships. He was extremely funny, cute, and the strong, silent type. Peter came along nine years after Wayne and I were born. Unplanned, but I'm sure the best mistake my parents ever made. He kept them busy with all of his sports, and my Dad would take him and Wayne fishing and hunting, leaving my brothers with a great love for the outdoors.
I would phone home every week or so and would often call my sister to play catch-up on our lives. My sister and I would both go back home every chance we got. We loved to be together again and there was nothing like being spoiled silly by our parents. It nourished the soul.
Christmas was always a special time for us. We got to show our love for each other through presents or special deeds, hugs, heart-to-heart talks, teasing each other, and just being us. It was a time for reflection, sharing and re-grouping.
For Christmas in 1989, I was planning a special gift for our Mom. All of us kids decided to buy her a family ring which we knew she would love, mainly because it came from us. We knew she would cherish it. We all chipped in, and even Pete had saved up his portion. When I approached him to collect for the ring, I told him not to worry about paying his share and that I would cover it, but he absolutely insisted that I take his money. That's just the type of guy he was.
That Christmas morning was heartwarming for us, watching Mom open her gift, and we could feel the love in the room. She was so surprised and so touched, it made her cry. We were all very happy that she liked it. This gift became even more significant to my Mom when, eleven days later, Peter was killed in a car accident. He was seventeen years old.
That fateful night, January 5, 1990, was my Mom's fifty-fifth birthday. My Dad and my brothers were taking Mom out for dinner, but Peter decided to go out with his friends. My parents were a little disappointed about his decision and they were also a bit concerned since there was a snow storm brewing, but they allowed him to go.
During the party, Peter decided to leave early and get a ride home with another set of friends. At the last minute, he exchanged seats with one of the kids who wanted to sit in the back, leaving him sitting in the front passenger seat. The driving conditions were horrible and the driver lost control on the highway, spinning into oncoming traffic. The vehicle they were driving in was struck on the front passenger side, exactly where Pete was sitting. Shortly thereafter, my parents received a phone call that would change their lives forever. Their son had been in a horrific accident and was in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Upon arriving at the hospital, they learned that Peter had extreme internal trauma and his condition was life-threatening. Pete held on as long as he could, but was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. Sadly, my Mom never celebrated another birthday from that day forward.
Meanwhile, back in Ottawa, I was attending a late New Years' Eve party with friends. I was having a great time and, oddly enough, remember dancing to Tom Petty's "Free Falling" just around midnight. My boyfriend and I decided to stay late, offering to help clean up after the party. As a result, it was extremely late when I got home. Within minutes of my arrival, the phone rang and it was my Dad. He told me that Pete was gone. I asked him what he meant and he told me that we lost him; that he died in a car accident that night. I fell to the floor and my boyfriend had to take the receiver. When I got back on the phone, my Dad and I spoke a bit more and cried together. I told him I would take the first bus home in the morning. My life, our lives, changed forever.
I remember crying myself to sleep and waking up several times that night thinking it was a bad dream, only to realize that it was not. I would then cry myself to sleep again. Every time I awoke, it felt like someone had punched me in the stomach, and that my heart was being ripped out of my body. I was absolutely inconsolable. I took the first bus home the next morning and cried all the way, not caring who was watching, not caring who might hear me ... just not caring. I was in shock and numb with grief. I needed my family.
During the next few days, my family would take turns taking care of each other. When one was breaking down and felt weak, another was strong and able to console. My Dad was not much of a drinker, but he sure polished off a 26er of rum quickly during those few days. Just to get through, I suppose. It didn't even affect him. I think it just helped numb his pain. Even though I had the love of my family around me, for the first time ever life felt very fragile. The hardest part was seeing how devastated my parents were and knowing that they were trying, with every beat of their hearts, to be strong for us kids.
My sister was my rock. Being a cop, of course, she had already been to see the vehicle my brother was killed in, and I needed to see it too. She brought me to the police station where we spoke with the officer who was at the scene of the accident that night and he took us to see the vehicle. It was completely crushed in on the passenger side where Pete had been sitting. It was as though God just said, "Okay Peter, get ready. It's your time." During the accident, there were four other passengers in the vehicle. The driver suffered a shattered knee cap and someone in the back seat sustained whiplash. Everyone who saw the vehicle said the same thing. It was as though it was just his time.
We were going to hold the funeral in the church where my parents were married and where all of us were baptized, except Peter. However, it was a small church and definitely would not hold all of the people who wanted to attend the funeral. Thankfully, there was a larger church across the street who offered to hold the service for us. All I remember seeing was a sea of people. Most of the kids from my brother's high school had come to pay their respects. Bus-loads of distraught teenagers were showing up and the balcony at the back of the church was completely full. Every seat was taken, but when the service began, you could hear a pin drop.
I recall my Mom speaking with the minister before the service. She was upset because all of her children had been baptized, except Peter. I believe she didn't have Pete baptized because she had lost her faith in God after her brother was killed in a car accident years earlier. During the service, I remember the minister saying that, even though Peter was not baptized, there was a place for him in Heaven and he lived his life like a true Christian. I don't think it was just a coincidence that Peter's middle name was 'Christian'.
Peter and Wayne were the best of friends. Despite their age difference, they used to do everything together. From watching television and playing sports, to going fishing and mountain biking. They just loved being together.
I was extremely worried about Wayne after Pete died. He had not only lost his little brother, but his best friend. Wayne was very distraught and he would pray that he could take Peter's place. We were all hurting very deeply but, through it all, we relied on each other. At first, we took one minute at a time, then one hour at a time, until it turns into days, weeks, and months. The stabbing pain I felt in my heart every time I thought of Pete began to subside until I felt that maybe I could carry on.
Our parents tried to stay strong for us, and we tried to stay strong for them. When we were together, we would often reminisce about the funny things Pete would say or do and it was extremely bitter-sweet. When I'd go home to visit, my Dad would catch me alone just so he could talk about some of the things Pete would do. He felt that he could not talk to my Mom about Pete as he did not want to upset her, so I listened and often secretively cried with my Dad. The hole in his heart could not be filled, and there was nothing I could do except just be there for him and offer my support and hugs. He kept himself extremely busy after Pete died, and began experiencing many health issues, but nothing would get him down. He was a man, and he was going to be strong, even if it killed him.
My Mom, on the other hand, initially had more difficulty trying to function. She grieved for a very long time and needed a lot of hugs. Hugs are very healing, especially to a grieving parent. My heart went out to her. No more busy life with Peter. His room was quiet. No more teenagers at the house. No more special moments with Pete sitting at the end of her bed just to chat. It was a monumental transition for both of my parents.
After Pete's death, I was working at an extremely busy job and had only taken one week off for the funeral. I remember trying to carry on with life, but every time I tried to relax or have a drink, I would end up crying. I'm sure my boyfriend at the time was tiring of it, but I had to let it out somehow. I was grieving and it was a process. Those who have not gone through it could not completely understand. I tried my best to keep busy and have fun, but six months later, I ended up getting run down and was forced to take care of myself. In looking back now, I realize that I didn't take the time I needed to process all of my emotions.
Very slowly, life without Peter became liveable again. As a family, we loved each other through it, helping each other heal. By remembering together, crying together, and learning to laugh again together, we slowly made new memories to carry us forward. We also learned to cherish all the good times we had with our little buddy.
They say that everything happens for a reason, but for the life of me, I just couldn't fathom what the hell that reason could be.
Life Carried On, Until ...
Years went by, and we created new family memories. Lori was married, divorced and remarried. I decided to move back to North Bay and started a family of my own. David was working and living with my parents, and Wayne was working as a Flight Paramedic in Timmins, but would come back home to spend as much time as he could with our Dad.
I had two children, a daughter and a son, and my relationship with their Dad ended within a year of having my children. It was a difficult time in my life, but my parents were there for me every step of the way, providing me with all of the love and support I needed. My children seemed to bring out the life in them again. The sparkle in their eyes that had burned out long ago started to return, and it was an absolute joy to see. They loved their grandchildren very much. We all just enjoyed spending time together. Life was full of special occasions, birthdays, first steps, first 'Poppas' and 'Nanas', big family barbecues, and lots of fun and laughter. It took a while, but we were having fun again!
Lori had retired from the police force and was now married to a police officer. During that time, they moved from Timmins to Pickle Lake, then to Saskatchewan. While they were living in Saskatchewan, her marriage got a little rocky and she was thinking hard about what she should do. It was at the same time that she developed a health issue that needed attention. I told her that she should return to her doctor for another check-up, and that if she decided to move back home, my house was open to her.
Excerpted from Life Reviews Love Reviews by Wendy McCoy. Copyright © 2016 Wendy McCoy. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword – My Journey, xi,
Family Bonding, 1,
The Early Years, 3,
Death Comes Knocking, 7,
Only the Good Die Young, 9,
Life Carried On, Until, 16,
The Golden Years?, 28,
My Mom – My Best Friend, 35,
Let The Journey Begin!, 43,
Seek Until You Find, 45,
Let the Healing Begin!, 50,
Love Is All That Matters, 53,
The Love Connection, 55,
Life Reviews, 59,
Life Reviews, 61,
Lori's Journey, 63,
Lori's Life Review, 66,
My Mom's Journey, 76,
My Mom's Life Review, 80,
My Dad's Life Review, 86,
Peter's Journey, 91,
Peter's Life Review, 93,
Gratitude and Encouragement, 99,
Final Thoughts, 109,
Final Thoughts from Wendy, 111,
Final Thoughts from Lori, 113,
Spiritual Artwork, 119,