A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
WE ARE NEVER ALONE!
The most profound phenomenon of our existence is this connection between ourselves and The Other Side. Our reality is an intricate collaboration between each person and the Universe. Help from Paradise shows up in unusual ways for everyone. The more our need from tragic circumstances, the more the likelihood of recognizing these divine gifts. Our guides and angels put people and situations in our lives so that we may learn life lessons of love and understanding. This is one mother’s journey of discovering this relationship with Heaven.
There is one paragraph in this memoir so significant to every reader that it is highlighted in bold script.
Copyright 2016 Claimant: Louise Wright
The Other Side of Tragedy
Revised edition 2022
Visits with The Other Side
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author.
THE OTHER SIDE
is dedicated to:
My husband Ray
Who taught me unconditional love
My son Gregory
Who connected me to the Infinite World
My son Clifford
Who keeps me centered in this world
as a place to continue loving and learning
My teacher Mary Jo McCabe
Who introduced me to The Guides
VISITS with THE OTHER SIDE
ONE: THE WORST POSSIBLE THING…..… 07
TWO: THE SUICIDE NOTE …………..….….. 31
THREE: THE VISIT ……………………….…. 47
FOUR: THE TRUTHS IN BOOKS …….…….. 71
FIVE: A CRUISE TO ENLIGHTENMENT….106
SIX: A GENUINE PSYCHIC …...................... 125
SEVEN: THE NEW YEAR ..………………....172
EIGHT: LESSONS FROM THE GUIDES..…. 186
NINE: THE SCARIEST WORD ..…………… 194
TEN: THE LOSS OF THINGS ………...……. 206
ELEVEN: THE RIGHT PLACE …….………. 254
REFLECTIONS AT EIGHTY ……….……… 272
ONE: THE WORST POSSIBLE THING
Gregory did not come home Sunday night. That wasn’t like him. If he had made plans to stay overnight at his brother’s or with some other friend, he would have told me. Gregory was a freshman at Loyola University. He had early classes this Monday morning, so he should have come home.
Starting at eight in the morning, which was as early as I dared for young college guys like to sleep as late as possible, I made phone calls to his friends. I contacted Gregory’s older brother Clifford, a junior at Loyola with a jointly rented condo near the campus and got him up to call around also. All we could come up with was that Gregory left his friends around six o’clock Sunday evening to come home.
Since there was nothing on the bulletin board in the kitchen where we left messages, I went into Gregory’s bedroom looking for a note, any clues as to his whereabouts. His room was a mess. Dirty clothes were strewn on the floor—nothing unusual about that. His Loyola backpack was on the floor beside his desk with books and composition tablets scattered beside it. So, he didn’t have the backpack for his classes this morning.
By nine that morning, we were running out of logical explanations. My husband Cliff called 911 requesting information about making a missing person report. He decided to wait before filing the report. Since we had reached recorded messages on two of Gregory’s friends’ answering machines, Cliff decided to drive by their residences to see if the car Gregory had driven was parked nearby. Maybe Gregory had fallen asleep at one of these friends’ homes.
While my husband did this, I called the bank to see if Gregory’s ABBY card had been used recently, and his credit card company to see if anyone had used his credit card in the last few hours. This was New Orleans, and it was a mean city.
After Cliff called to say Gregory wasn’t at the places he checked, I called the sheriff’s office to make the missing person report. The detective answering the phone said we had a bad connection, and he would send someone out to get the information.
I started making notes: the license plate number of the car Gregory was driving, what he was wearing (jeans and a plain white shirt), and the address where he left his friends. I said another prayer and wondered if I should start calling the emergency rooms at local hospitals.
When I answered the door March 6, 1995, at eleven o’clock and saw three detectives, I knew Gregory was dead. All I could say was “Gregory, Gregory, Gregory.”
Their manner was harsh as they ordered me to go inside before they would tell me anything. I walked into the den and sank onto an ottoman.
Immediately, I went into a state of shock that turned off the emotional sector of my brain. Losing Gregory was too painful to deal with. I went numb. I could not process this tragedy through my mind.
The rest was a blur—the detectives told me Gregory was dead and something about his death would be hard to take. I remember thinking at that moment that Gregory had been brutally murdered.
“It looks like a suicide,” one detective bluntly stated.
Another explained Gregory had driven out to the Bonnet Carre Spillway in St. Charles Parish, left a suicide note on the front seat of the car, locked the car, and sat on the side of the spillway levee where he had shot himself in the head.
I got up and walked away from them. I felt weak as though all my energy had evaporated. I quickly sat down on the closest chair. I became aware of my mouth being dry.
I studied these men’s faces, believing they had to be lying. Their features reflected confusion. They wanted answers to why this handsome young man of nineteen had ended his life. To them, he was a body that should not have been wasted.
They continued talking, asking questions. I answered like a robot, without feeling. I said words but felt nothing. They asked about getting someone to be with me. I wanted to be alone, wanted them to go away, wanted them to go tell my husband Cliff at work.
I gave them the name of a friend who lived nearby. While we waited for her to arrive, they kept asking questions.
“Was Gregory depressed?”
“He was having trouble at school. But nothing that would cause him to do that.”
“Had he recently broken up with a girlfriend?”
“A girl he liked broke up with him—but that was months ago.”
I told them I’d never seen any signs that Gregory would commit suicide. He never once had talked about taking his life, never mentioned suicide.
I wanted the suicide note. They said they couldn’t give it to me. I asked what was in it. Their answer was vague, forgettable.
I inquired, “Why does someone commit suicide?” Again, what they said was unhelpful. And their tone was dismissive.
They then ordered me to get my husband home, but without telling him about Gregory. I started saying over and over, “This will destroy him.”
Not one person in that room, including myself at that moment, had any idea of the impact of losing a child.
I told them I wanted to be alone and asked them to wait outside until my friend arrived. That she would take me to my husband’s office so I could tell him in person.
When the detectives went outside, I knew I should call Cliff. Yet I felt every minute he didn’t know he was happier, better off. I didn’t want to devastate him. I didn’t want him to know. I didn’t want to cause anyone to feel the emptiness I now experienced.
When receiving devastating news, a phenomenon may occur preventing severe psychological trauma. A mechanism to preserve our sanity kicks in and lets in only what we can bear, a little at a time. The brain takes in only what we can handle.
The phone rang. I knew it would be my husband calling to see if I had found out anything. I was trying to think fast of some way to get him home without telling him about Gregory.
Cliff immediately asked, “Have you heard from Gregory?”
“Cliff, you need to come home now. I don’t want to say anything more than that.”
Cliff told me later that he thought Gregory had been in a car accident, and I wanted to go to the hospital with him.
My friend Dottie arrived with tears streaming down her face. She ran to me and held me. I held back, knew I couldn’t let go, couldn’t let myself feel the impact of my son’s death. If I did, I was positive I would die.
I started pacing then. Dottie stood in the kitchen by the counter, and I told her I didn’t know why but I couldn’t keep still. I walked around the counter and then back and forth. Every now and then we would give each other a quick hug, but I still had to keep moving. My mouth was so dry, no sensation of saliva. Dottie got me some water.
Cliff charged in the kitchen entrance with a harried expression on his face. I grabbed him with Dottie supporting his other side.
I whispered, “Gregory is dead.”
He supported his head with his hands and leaned down on the counter and cried so hard he was shaking all over. Dottie walked into the dining room as Cliff and I embraced.
Cliff asked, “How?”
“The detectives said it looked like Gregory committed suicide.”
Cliff screamed, “No! Oh God, no!” His initial pain and agony were reenacted.
Dottie kept asking what she could do—anything to help. Dottie was one of the nicest people I knew, with a great sense of fair play and love for other people and animals. Her husband Charlie joked that there were more dolphins named “Charlie” than any other name because of Dottie’s generous donations to save those beautiful creatures.
Our next torturous hurdle was to get our older son Clifford home. Our two sons were more than brothers—they were best friends. Each boy’s friends were the other’s friends. When Clifford went to college at Loyola, Loyola became Gregory’s first choice of where he wanted to apply when he graduated from high school two years later. Their network of local friends now attending either Loyola or Tulane was the same group that got together most Friday and Saturday nights.
Cliff called Clifford’s apartment, and Gregory’s good friend Billy answered the phone. My husband said, “Billy, I need you to bring Clifford home right now. Don’t let him drive—you drive him here.”
In the meantime, I continued to pace. This home was a one-story ranch, U-shaped around a swimming pool area in the back. I traveled from one end of the “U” to the other, occasionally making detours to the front entrance. I would sometimes pause wherever Cliff was before continuing my route. Moving somehow kept my mind from dealing with the loss of Gregory.
Clifford and Billy came in already knowing Gregory was dead. They figured that would be the only reason for the phone call. My husband and I surrounded them as they entered, and they both started crying as soon as they saw us. Billy slumped into a corner against the wall as Clifford cried in our arms.
My husband lay down in the master bedroom. Clifford and Billy went to Clifford’s bedroom. I walked around in a daze, my mind starting to focus on Gregory. My children were the most significant and wonderful part of my life. Things like suicide did not happen where there was so much love.
Gregory had entered Loyola University’s premed program with the goal to become a veterinarian. If vet school became too hard to get in, his only compromise was to go into sports medicine. He hadn’t made the grades that first semester at Loyola and was placed on probation. I hadn’t been aware of his poor performance in college until receiving his first semester final grade report in December. His midterm grades had been good.
When I questioned Gregory about his grades, he admitted he had not put enough effort toward his studies. If something more alluring was happening, then that was what he did. He would get behind and then be overwhelmed with the classwork that needed to be caught up. He said he hadn’t coped well with the freedom that came with college after the structured environment of his private school background, where he could not get away with not turning in the required schoolwork.
Whenever I asked Gregory how things were going, his standard answer was “Fine, just fine.” His goodbye to telephone conversations was “No worries.” He was a gentle, big teddy bear of a guy who never complained or argued. I felt he carried his burdens inside, and with a smile told others what he thought they wanted to hear. He didn’t want his family or friends distressed by any of his personal problems. He was a likable introvert with his laid-back, unconditional love for his family and friends.
Clifford, the older brother, was Gregory’s opposite. When anything bothered Clifford, he let his feelings out immediately with an explosive, comedian-like commentary on anything he perceived as an unfair situation. Gregory would laugh uncontrollably, the appreciative audience to Clifford’s Seinfeld-style presentations.
An extrovert from birth, Clifford was the planner, the one who came up with ideas for fun and excitement during their high school years. Our home was a center for their friends to meet on weekends. As soon as school let out on Fridays, the boys’ line never quit ringing. The house teemed with youth activity—a flow of young people coming and going. Most of their activities revolved around sports—Gregory played football and basketball, pitched on the baseball team, and threw javelin and discus. Clifford was on the football, wrestling, track, and soccer teams.
My strongest memory was the laughter of these young people. Gregory’s laugh was contagious—a naturally deeper sound. A few phone calls could gather enough bodies for a baseball game on the levee behind our home. A case of drinks from Sam’s and all food in the house disappeared each weekend. Sometimes they boiled crayfish or barbecued hamburgers on the grill.
Their college years brought bar hopping and a partying crowd. More girls came to our house. The decadent atmosphere of New Orleans, where greedy bartenders willingly served underage kids, was well known to these young people under twenty-one looking for a place to drink. I didn’t allow drinking in our home, but I found evidence every now and then of smashed beer cans hidden in the bottom of the trash. My sons were now finding where the partying was going on each weekend. They went everywhere in boy-girl groups, sometimes pairing off with a particular girl for a while, but still going out with their own crowd. That was the only safe way to travel the nightlife in New Orleans.