HEart by Cc

That time I got to visit heaven...

CANDICE CASTILLO

I am sorry it has been so long since I have blogged. Life has been full steam ahead and I have not had the pleasure of sitting to write in so long. But I wanted to make sure that I sat down before 2016 closed to share something with you all.

Today I want to share about an experience that happened to me right before Thanksgiving. At first I had not wanted to share it. But I decided to post about it on IG and afterwards I got a lot of good feedback. I had wondered if people would think I was crazy, or if others would think what I thought...that I actually visited heaven.

Now did I visit heaven? was it all just a dream? I needed time to process it. While I care little about others thoughts and opinions on the subject of whether or not I visited heaven, I will say this...that all that questioning is hardly the real point anyways. The real point is, did I experience something that is hard to explain and in experiencing it have I had a life changing experience. And the answer is...YES. Like my salvation, this experience was super natural and in turn has changed me deeply.

So lets get to it...let me tell you about the time I got to visit Heaven.

On a Friday evening about 5 weeks ago...I had so much trouble sleeping. I tossed and turned and watched the clock. I was antsy like I had somewhere to be and was nervous about it. At some point I finally fell asleep. I awoke 3 hours later sobbing in body shaking tears. Here's what happened in those three hours as I dreamed the most vivid and real life dream I had ever experienced...
I found myself walking along what appeared to be a beautiful national park. There was mountains, waterfalls and beauty everywhere I looked. Everything was 100 x the color it is in life, and I was standing looking in awe. John appeared wearing a Mexican poncho ( I literally can see it now it was cream with stripes of red, yellow, and brown) he had his hands in his pockets and he walked towards me slowly. I stood shocked. He looked younger but un-kept. His hair and beard were long and unruly. He asked me if I wanted a tour and I did. We walked and chatted ( I don't remember about what) and as we walked there were campgrounds and some areas where people had houses and for some reason there were Carnival games. People where welcoming and kind. They kept saying to me, " has he told you what he does here?" And I would say no, and we kept going. Everywhere we went on the tour everybody couldn't stop talking about how wonderful he was and how he had help them. I remember thinking it's so weird because he looks so unkept and like he's not taking care of himself. When we got to the end there was a dunk tank game and he asked me to sit down at a picnic table and have coffee with him. He told me that he ran the entire park but he took care of all the people and that he fixed anything that was broken. Just as he finished telling me that his cup of coffee tipped and poured into his lap. I started laughing hysterically he laughed and I laughed and we couldn't stop laughing. When we finally did stop laughing I told him that I would like to stay here and help him and he told me that I couldn't. He told me that he had a lot to do there. Someday I could stay there with him, but that he just has so much work to do there and that I was needed at home. I had work to do too. I didn't want to leave and I wanted to stay so bad. He held my hand and I begun to cry as he told me that I wouldn't see him for awhile. He was just going to be very busy and so was I. My cries became louder and more like wails and my whole body shook. And that is the moment I woke up.

My husband Mikey had woken up a few moments before and started recording me with his cell phone because I was laughing so hard in my sleep that he could not believe I was asleep.  In face I was laughing so hard that my knees were pulled up to my chest. But soon after the laughing stopped and I begun to cry and wail. When I actually woke up my face was wet with tears and I jumped from the bed.  My husband immediately asked what had happened and started to tell me about the laughing that had woken him up. I recalled the entire dream to my husband, later to my mother and to a friend. I cried as I recalled the moments of laughter and the moment of goodbye.

But I have not cried since that day. I have not cried out in sadness. I have not wept in sorrow. I miss John every single day, but I am no longer sad. I feel guilty even saying that. How could I be in such deep sorrow for the past season and all of a sudden be filled with so much peace. I have said out loud a few times to others that I feel so confused and yet it was if it was just meant to be this way.

I've had a lot of time to think about the peace that I am in. About the experience, and about the apparent healing my heart has felt as a result of this. And here's what I think...I think I got to visit heaven. i think I got to spend the day with John. I think we got to say good-bye, I think that the grief lifted just long enough for me to experience the gift of healing. Whether or not any ofthat is true, or just a dream really doesn't matter now does it.

I will forever miss John. I will think of him, and I will live purposefully harder and love others more because I knew him and loved him. I will remind my heart of him when the world is cruel. I will look fondly at the sun and feel his warmth. But I will no longer live in sadness. For John and I will see each other again. And until we do, I know where he is. And I know he's busy and that I have things to do here before I get to see him again. And so until that time comes I'll always remember that time I got visit heaven.

Xo,

Cc
 

What's coming will come and we'll meet it when it does.- Hagrid

CANDICE CASTILLO

I like to know what's coming. I mean I like to plan for it. I want every detail. And this my friends is a curse. You don't want to know every detail before it happens and sometimes you wish you never knew any of the details after it happens. Since John passed away I have not slept well. Ok Ok...I've slept but not without the help of every over the counter sleep aid product known to man. I start taking them at 7pm in the hopes that by 11 pm one will kick in and I can sleep. But honestly it's not that I can't sleep, it's just I'm really fearful of the moments right before sleep. I know it's coming. And I don't know how to handle it. The ones where I've put down the book or turned off the t.v. The moments I've gotten back under the covers in the dark after washing my face. The moments where you can still see the glow of the alarm clock when you first close your eyes in the dark. It's because I know what's coming.

Those moments are the hardest for me. Those are the moments when I see the look of panic on John's face as the nurse rushes me out into the hall. Those are the moments I see the blood and hear the sounds of Cancer claiming my best friend right before my eyes. Those are the moments that I dread. They are why I can't sleep and why I can't stay asleep. I know what's coming.

The other night I turned off the t.v and I headed to the bathroom to take a hot shower. As I was in the shower with the hot water pouring over me, the moment...that moment started to creep in. The sound, the sights and even the smells. And I immediately said out loud. "Nope. You can't do this to me anymore. I refuse to see it. I'm gonna think about that rusty old bus outside this window. You can have anymore of me. I'm done with you devil. I'm done" And I re-adjusted my thoughts to a dream I had after I bought the bus and how the transporter driver was John. And I smiled as I shut off the water and put on my p.j's. I thought about the bus's potential and about John. I thought about how much happier he would be if he knew that I shut those thoughts out and thought instead about the bus. Since then I have no more dread about the moments between living and sleeping. Because I know now that if that moment comes, I'll tell it to leave. I have no dread about it. If it comes. I'll handle it. It gives me hope of a re-birth. It gives me something to take my thoughts away from the bad. I'm still having trouble sleeping. But I'm not reliving John's dying moments over and over again. Nope. I can't. John loved me too much for me to be doing this to myself. I will not allow this to consume me anymore. I think that makes John happy. I hope it makes John happy. I miss you John. 

As for the rusty old bus in the driveway, we had someone come out to give us a bid.  He told me what my heart already knew.. "this is a great buy, I'll buy it from you if you decide you don't want it" But she's not for sale. She's mine. Before he left, he said, " I can tell you are attached to this bus" And I am. We await his bid. We await a lot of things these days. I await the future. I await an end to this grief. I await an adventure.  But I do so knowing now "what's coming will come and we'll meet it when it does."- Hagrid

REVIVAL

CANDICE CASTILLO

I don't know about you, but when I think about a revival I think about back roads, pop up tents, and a preacher ready to lay you out in the holy spirit. But the real definition of the term

REVIVAL is 

re·viv·al

rəˈvīvəl/

noun

noun: revival; plural noun: revivals

an improvement in the condition or strength of something.

I myself have felt revival before. The day I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, a radical revival of my life happened. I was cold, bitter and not willing to look past tomorrow with any real sense of hope. But when I accepted Christ as my Savior, my life, my heart and my soul made a dramatic change for the better. I became a better person, mother, friend and partner. Honestly I just became a better human being. Years into my salvation, I decided to pursue my passion for Art and do so for the GLORY of GOD. And I've done that. I love that I'm still doing that today. It's my full time job and I am fulfilled daily by following God's calling on my life. A revival indeed had taken place. And a rebirth of my soul had happened. I am so thankful it did. But this is a blog about a VW bus. And the girl who bought it. Also... it very much is a story about revival. It will be, the journey of restoring and reviving a 1974 bus but also a story of my heart... where it is today, and where it's going.

When I was 16, working at a property management office on the weekends, I met a grumpy old maintenance man. His name was John and he was not very nice. In fact most people didn't like him. But John was nice to me. He brought me Mountain Dew and we smoked cigarettes behind the office. Throughout the years, I grew to respect his work, and his life. He had turned his life around many years before. He had done time in prison for thief and was a heroine addict. But John quit heroine cold turkey and instead of using, he filled his life with drawing & painting. He showed me his paintings and he was so talented. He loved art, creating things with his hands and he loved working. John was clean and sober and loved his life.

After the birth of my first son, I started to work in property management on my own. But John came along and was my maintenance guy.  He was loyal and dependable. For the better part of 11 years, he and I worked side by side on property projects and in that time we became best friends. John was 25 years older than me, he was a widow, and he lived solely for his work. He made me whatever I asked. There were art show displays, shelves for my home and eventually 6x8 wood VW bus cut outs. He was always a great supporter of my dream of being an artist.

The first time I shared with John my love of VW buses was when he walked into my studio one day and found a painting I had done of one. "You like these things?" he grumbled, as he picked it up. "Yes I love them! I want one so bad but I'll never be able to afford one!" He laughed and told me a story of how his first job was as a mechanic for a VW repair shop called "Love Bugs"  and what a pain in the butt VW's were and how I did not want to own one.  But I never stopped wanting one. A year later, my husband bought me a 1966 VW Bug and when John pulled up and saw it, he said "why did you get that? I thought you wanted a bus?" And I explained how a bus was 4 times the cost of a bug and I was happy with it. But he responded by saying " You'll never be happy until you get your bus" And John was right. I loved my 66 bug, but I longed for my bus.

Later that year, John was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer that had spread to his brain, his ribs, his neck and his lymph nodes. I went right away to the hospital after he called to tell me.  We cried and hugged, and then John asked me to be his Power of Attorney. He wanted me to help him decide what to do along the way of treatment. "I have no one but you, Candice" I agreed because he was my best friend and I loved him. 7 months after finding out, and doing 6 rounds of chemo and countless numbers of radiation, my best friend John, died. I was with him the moment he died. I was there, out in the hall unable to stay by his side as he coughed up blood. The doctors came out and asked me " Mrs. Castillo, would you like us to revive him with CPR?" As I fell to the ground on the cold hospital floor,  I was unable to make the decision. " Mrs. Castillo, we need you to tell us right now if we should revive him"

"I don't know! NO! No he didn't want that, the nurse was there, ask her! She was there, he didn't want to be revived!" I screamed to them. Then 4 minutes later, they came out and told me he was gone.

That night as I tried to sleep I kept saying " I killed him didn't I? I didn't allow them to revive him" While John's battle with cancer was over, my battle of guilt, and grief had just begun. My heart felt like it had been torn into pieces. Life as I had known it...carefree and full of laughter was darken by watching John bleed out in front of me. Darken with PTSD and guilt that I had not revived him. 

The weeks went on, heavy with grief and sadness. I had to head to Kansas for an art retreat and while there felt the full weight of settling John's estate and handling his affairs. A friend of ours lives out there and he came and picked me up. The next day we spent talking about John and how I could honor him. How John wanted certain things for me in his will, and how he had asked that I do certain things with my life for my family. Then we pulled up along this old rusty VW bus and I asked if we could stop and look at it. I took this photo.

I feel like she's smiling here.

I feel like she's smiling here.

The bus was beat up and looked a lot like the heart that was beating inside my chest. I walked around the bus and felt a strong sense of John as I ran my fingers over the rusted paint. Our friend said " He wanted you to have a house, and technically this is a house. You could live in if you needed too, because look it's a camper!" We laughed. I got on a plane the next morning and I headed home to San Diego.

But the bus, that clementine orange rusty bus never left my thoughts. A week later our friend called to tell me that the bus was mine. I just needed to get it home.

On Thursday night, she got here.

Can you believe that she rode from Kansas to California like this? Crazy!

Can you believe that she rode from Kansas to California like this? Crazy!

 

When they finally got her off the Transporter and my husband saw her for the first time, and I saw her in daylight, the realization of her restoration and revival was a little shocking. I mean there is some major work that needs to be done.

And it's all a little scary. But, That Girl Clementine, the 74 Camper bus needs a revival. And Cc, the 30 something mom to 3 kids, wife to an understanding man, colorful artist who just lost her best friend is in need of a revival too.

So here's to a REVIVAL. Which by definition is an improvement in the condition or strength of something. My heart. My bus. Our Journey. God has already written this story, this will just be my narrative as we go.

XOX,

Cc