My Father Eric Randolph Van de Water was one of the most amazing humans I have ever known.
When he walked into a room everyone turned to look at him.
He had a light and smile that illuminated the world.
He had an unforgettable presence.
He had a lot of spirit but didn’t consider himself to be spiritual.
If anything, nature was his church and in nature he connected with the Great Mystery.

When I was 14 I took a class at Santa Barbara High School called “Language in Human Relationships” and was asked some deep and profound questions about life and living.
When I was asked “How is your relationship with your parents?” I realized that I could either have 2 best friends or 2 worst enemies and I would much rather have 2 best friends.
From that moment forward I was a loyal best friend to my dear ole dad and to this day, my Mom is one of best friends in the world.
When my Father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, he was 55 and I was 27.
 At the time I was in India traveling with a spiritual teacher and was teaching Yoga at her retreats.
 On the 11th day of what can only be described as a Samadhi Enlightenment experience,
I called home like I did every week to connect with my family and sadly learned that my dad had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
The Doctor who was apparently void of all compassion and empathy, sat back in his chair, kicked his feet up on the desk, criss crossed his feet, looked my Dad in the eyes and said,
“Well Eric, you’re going to die.”
Later that day at sunset an owl flew just one inch above my dad’s head and called out 3 times.
Some Native American tribes believe that when the owl calls your name, you will soon be leaving this world.
My dad was fit as a fiddle, handsome, active and looked like he was in perfect health, so it was a huge shock to us all.
I wanted to go home right away to be with him but he said
“No, I need you to stay there with your enlightened ones and pray for me” which was highly uncharacteristic of him.
I later learned that he had recently read “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”.
I stayed in India for another month and sent him faxes and letters and called often with messages that gave very clear support and hot tips on how to navigate the cancer storm physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
During that remaining month in India I had profoundly challenging experiences of facing my own death and mortality as a human being and profoundly enlightening experiences of recognizing that as a spiritual being I will never die and am immortal.

He lived for a total of 9 months after he was diagnosed.
It took him 9 months to prepare for this world in his mother’s womb.
It took him 9 months to prepare to leave this world.
During the 9 month transition he had chemo and radiation and had his esophagus removed.
It was one of the most challenging things I have ever experienced watching the superman who could do just about anything lose 25% of his original 200 lbs and not be able to do all of the vital physical activity that was his daily norm.
The most challenging part was to witness his psycho-emotional struggles.
At night he couldn’t sleep because he was so concerned about leaving us and leaving my mom with the burden of so much to take care of in the material world.
He was deeply stressed.
Stress wasn’t new to him.
In fact it contributed to his cancer, but this was a different kind of stress.
It was the stress that a dying person who had not cultivated a deep daily relationship with his non physical/mental/emotional self goes through while trying to transition from the material world to the spiritual world.

At night he wanted to be tucked in…it was really sweet.
It was like a role reversal, where I, the child, became the parent to my parent.
Sometimes he would call to me when he couldn’t sleep.
I would get in bed with him and hold his hand and lead him on guided meditations.
We both loved the ocean and went scuba diving and swam with wild dolphins together,
So in the meditations I would ask him to visualize that the stress he was feeling was choppy water at the surface of the sea.
I told him that in the same way that when we scuba dive we were able to go beneath the choppy water at the surface of the sea and go down into the deep stillness and peace of the sea, we can do the same thing mentally and emotionally.
I would then guide him beneath the stressful surface of his thoughts and emotions to the deep stillness and peace of his innermost being and spirit.
He would always fall asleep during the meditation and sleep through the night.
During those meditations he shared that he began to connect with who he is beyond his body, mind and heart.

As his life force dwindled away we started to talk about the time when Hospice would come.
He would always say that as soon as Hospice came, it would be his cue to pass away because it would mean that taking care of him had become too much of a burden for us.

In the months leading up to his death, he would have dreams and visions of the other side.
He owned a boat and a suburban and an Airstream trailer and when he would tune into wherever it was that he was going after this life, he would say “There is no space for me there. And there is no space for my boat, suburban and Airstream.”
That really stressed him out because he felt trapped in between 2 worlds.
From there on out I would lead him on guided meditations where he was traveling along a road in his suburban towing his airstream and boat.
I would have him visualize that he was traveling to a specific destination and that he would pull into a big parking lot where there were 3 available parking spots, one for his suburban, one for his boat and one for his Airstream.
Within a couple weeks, late at night, during a vision, on his own accord, he said, “They made a space for me.”
It was then that I knew he was going to be okay and that he would soon be transitioning.

A week before he passed, my friend who was the spiritual teacher that I had been traveling with in India said, “Your father is going to pass soon and you need to clear some things with him.”
I knew exactly what she was talking about and went directly to my parent’s house and asked my dad if I could talk with him.
He agreed.
I told him that I had very challenging things to express to him that I had been holding in my heart for my whole life.
I asked him if it was ok to share some things that might be challenging and upsetting for him to hear.
He agreed.
For the next 15 minutes I told him about every time he disappointed and let me down as a father and a friend.
I told him about every pain, upset, resentment, sadness and disappointment that I had ever experienced in my relationship with him.
It was the most challenging, cathartic and brave thing that I had ever done with him.
I uncontrollably sobbed the entire time.
When I finished I simply said, “That’s it.”
He simply responded, “Will you forgive me?”
I said, “Yes. Will you forgive me for carrying these grudges for all these years?”
He said, “Yes. You don’t know how much this helps me to let go. Thank you.”
We hugged and told each other that we loved each other.

The next day Hospice came to talk to us about what would happen when we requested Hospice care for my dad.
We all sat in the living room and talked about the details.
It was during that conversation that I looked at my dad and said, “After you pass away, will you please let us know that you safely made it to wherever you are going?”
He said, “Yes I will.”

The next day he told me that I was on the right path and that if he had to walk this path of life all over again that he would choose to walk the path that I am on.
Within days he was definitely preparing to leave this life.
I stayed with him for 3 days straight.
I didn’t leave the house at all.
On the 3rd night my mom called my boyfriend at the time and asked him to please come and take me out on a date because I had not left the house in 3 days.
When he came to get me I went into the bedroom where my dad was fast asleep.
I went over to him, kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear, “I love you.”
As I walked away, he said “I love you Annie girl.”
Those were our last words.
That night Hospice came.
He passed away the next morning at dawn.
He told us that the moment that Hospice came would be the moment that he would know that it was time for him to go.
He kept his word, just like he said he would.
Just like he always did.
Later that day my sister and I went out to go to the grocery store.
When we were driving down our little lane I spotted what I thought was a rat or a mouse in the middle of the road.
I said, “Stop the car. There’s a critter in the road.”
I got out of the car and walked over to what turned out to be a cockatiel bird.
I leaned down to see if it was OK and it hopped right over to me and up onto my hand.
He then walked up my arm, sat on my shoulder and started to make gentle chirping sounds in my ear while preening my hair.
And he wouldn’t leave.
So we got in the car with him chirping and preening me and drove the rest of the way down the lane to my family’s home.
As we drove along I realized that my dad had made his safe passage from this world to the next.
Birds are messengers from the spirit world.
Once again, my dad had kept his word and had sent me a sign that he was OK.
This wondrous bird wanted to stay with us so we took him inside.
It was sunset.
I had decided that for the first 3 nights after my dad’s passing that I was going to do rituals and ceremonies to help his soul get to where it was going.
Even though he had given me the very clear sign that he made it to his next destination, I still wanted to do the rituals and ceremonies to honor him.
I put the cockatiel on the edge of a chair, started lighting candles, chanting and doing my rituals for my dad.
At one point I was drawn to a flickering shadow that I saw on the wall behind the bird.
There was a candle that was shining light on the profile of the bird’s face and reflecting his silhouette onto the wall.
In college my dad’s buddies called him “The Buzzard” because he had a prominent bird like beak of a nose.
When I looked over, what I saw, was the perfect silhouette of my father’s face.
That bird wasn’t only a messenger on my dad’s behalf.
He was my dad, or at least a fragment of my dad’s Soul was imprinted in the bird.
So my sister kept him as a pet and we named him Skeeder, which was one of my dad’s nicknames derived from one of our secret languages.
A week later at my dad’s memorial service about 600 people showed up at The Natural History Museum to honor him.
I had written a song called “From God Knows Where” that I sang for him at the Memorial Service.
I sang the first 2 verses that go:
It’s a moonless night, but the stars they do shine bright.
No matter how dark it becomes, the light shall prevail.
So dance with the darkness.
Become one with the mystery.
Look your shadow in the eye and see the Truth is…
Here. Here, Here. The Truth is Here.

There’s a bare limbed tree, but the roots still run deep.
In the autumn breeze the leaves fall down,
For they know that the sky is one with the ground.
So let your leaves go and then the secret you will know.
Only when you release do you realize you are already
Free. Free. Free. You are already Free.

While I sang that verse a wind picked up and I felt my dad’s spirit with absolute certainty.
And he began to give me a 4th verse to the song.
It was one of the most bizarre and incredible musical experiences of my life.
While singing I realized that the song was for my dad.
It is the song about how he passed from this world to the next.
And it was quite a process to sing the 3rd verse while receiving and downloading a 4th verse from my dad who showed up as the wind.
Especially in front of 600 people at my dad’s memorial service.

The third verse is:
And it’s a stormy sea,
but beneath stillness and peace.
The waves will always rise and fall,
but the silent deep will remain.
So dive into the ocean.
Allow yourself to flow with the come n go.
Feel the crashing upon the shore and know, you’re always
Home. Home. Home. You’re always Home.

It was the meditation I had guided him through so many times.

And then the 4th verse came through for the first time ever:
And the one you love is gone but will never really die.
For there is no death, just a change of worlds.
He is the wave flowing.
He is the tree.
He is the breeze blowing.
He is free.

This man who was my father who I didn’t think was very spiritual ended up being a true enlightened master who truly got this whole amazing mysterious existence by consciously dying and allowing me to be with him on every level, plain and dimension of reality.
A week later in the middle of the night the phone rang and I picked it up.
This was not a dream.
I was definitely awake.
It was my dad.
He said, “Hello my precious gem.”
That’s what he always called me because we were both geminis and gem was a double entendre for being a gemini and his precious jewel.
I was speechless and he knew it.
He said, “It’s OK Annie.”
Once I could speak I said, “How are you?”
He said, “All is well. I am just so sorry that I had to leave you, mom and your sister.”
I said, “Where are you?”
He said, “I am HERE now.”
I knew that he had merged with the eternal now that connects the past, present and future.
I asked, “Why did you have to go?”
He said, “I was called here to help others go through the same process that I just went through. Thank you for your help. There are many that are passing over now and need my help to go through what you helped me go through.”
I told him, “I love you.”
He said, “I love you and I will always be with you.”
And he has kept his word to me.
I feel him with me always.
He is one of my best friends and Guardian Angels.
Any time I really need him and call for him, he comes.
After he passed away, my mom gave me his Acura Legend.
I really loved that car.
One time I was driving it along a windy road on a cliff and I swerved to miss a squirrel.
My car spun out of control.
I said out loud, “I am not in control but you are God and I surrender.”
I took my hands off the wheel, closed my eyes, called upon my dad and awaited my destiny.
The car went off the cliff and I tumbled down 30 feet to the earth below which just so happened to be The Tennis Club of Santa Barbara.
My car landed upside down and was totaled.
I walked out without a scratch.
The head of Emergency of the Hospital happened to be playing tennis when the accident happened.
He, the Police Officers and the paramedics who were called just in case of internal injuries all agreed that it was a total miracle that I was alive, let alone not injured at all.
He kept his word.
He helped me.
I feel his love and support every day in every way.
Even though the body of my vehicle died in that accident, I lived.
In the same way, my dad’s body died, but his spirit will live on forever.
What happened after my dad’s passing was only possible because of how we lived and loved each other while he was alive.
One of my core spiritual practices is called Ho’o’ponopono.
It is practiced by the Kahunas of Hawaii for peacekeeping amongst tribal and family members.
It consists of 4 sentences.
I love you.
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.
It is a clearing practice.
It clears stress, tension and heavy energy between loved ones so that love, light and peace can prevail.
I didn’t learn about this practice until 10 years after my dad passed but I now realize that we were practicing Ho’o’ponopono with each other.
The last words we spoke to each other were “I love you.”
That’s what this whole wild ride comes down to.
It’s all about love.
But in order for love to prevail, you have to be humble and forgiving and grateful.
You have to continuously create space in your body, mind and heart for spiritual love to fill you up and lead you, guide you, direct you and protect you.
There is a saying, “It’s a good day to die” that you say when you feel like you have done everything that you could possibly do and now you can simply let go and trust in the way that things naturally unfold.
When you practice love, forgiveness, humility and gratitude, you can truly let go because your conscience is clear and you know you have done everything you can possibly do to create peace in your life and the lives of other’s.
And when you do, you will find the secret key to immortality.
It’s the key to peace.
If everyone could easily and effortlessly say these 4 sentences with sincerity in their heart, we would have universal peace on this planet.
And it’s the key to everlasting peace beyond this world.
My dad’s famous last words to me were “I love you.”
My famous last words to him were “I love you.”
That’s what it all comes down to.
In the end, in the beginning and every step of the way, love is the way.
Love and appreciation creates a bridge between the worlds that keeps us connected to all those that have walked the path before us.
That is Eric Randolph Van de Water’s legacy and I exist now to carry forth, embody and share love with everyone in my presence.
And just like my dad, in life and in death, I will keep my word.
This is our covenant.