When I was in Peru some years ago, I met a lovely woman named Aliya who shared an amazing story with me. This story touched me deeply and, over the next few years, it systematically changed my perspective on life and on the meaning of death, as well as on how to see the more challenging aspects of life and existence for what they ultimately are: great and important gifts. I had read before of the principle of embracing the darker, shadow sides of our existence in the same way we embrace the lighter, easier, happier sides. But it never fully hit home until I heard this true story. I’d like to share it with you. 

My Peruvian friend, Aliya

Aliya lives in the small Peruvian city of Cusco, high in the Andes mountains. Cusco is a magical, small city that anyone visiting the famous archeological site, Machu Picchu, must pass through on their way. Cusco is full of the lore of the mysterious, ancient Incas, a very majestic and spiritual people.

Throughout her life, Aliya was very close with her grandmother. They shared everything, not only as grandmother and granddaughter, but as the best of friends.

Aliya had a sister, who was also close to their grandmother. Her sister was married and had three young sons. Their grandmother loved her great-grandsons deeply, and they all visited frequently. As much as she loved her great-grandsons, however, grandmother occasionally would whisper to her granddaughters, Aliya and her sister, that she hoped she might have a great-granddaughter one day. Aliya’s sister and brother-in-law, however, had no intention of having any more children, and Aliya was not able to have children of her own. 

When Aliya’s grandmother started slowing down a bit in her later years, Aliya dedicated even more of her time to being with her, and was there for her whenever possible. At the age of ninety-three, grandmother passed one night while in the hospital, and Aliya was by her side as she took her last breath.

The miracle of life

A year or so later, to their great surprise, Aliya’s sister and brother-in-law discovered that they were going to have another baby.

According to the dominant chromosome birth pattern in the family, it was nearly without a doubt that Aliya’s sister would have another boy. Nevertheless, Aliya’s sister felt in her heart that this baby was going to be a girl.

Sure enough, nine months later, Aliya became an aunt once again, but this time to a baby girl, just as grandmother had wished.

When the baby girl was born, she was named for Aliya’s beloved grandmother, Mila, which is taken from the word “milagros,” meaning miracle.

A timeless connection

As baby Mila matured over the next decade, family members often remarked that she looked like her great-grandmother. Her facial features, her smile, her twinkling eyes, even her very demeanor all seemed to be just like that of her great-grandmother, Aliya’s beloved grandmother and friend.

Even though Aliya and her niece Mila did not live very close to one another, they became fast pals. They had a fondness for each other that went far beyond the surface; it felt timeless. As Mila grew up and Aliya’s life continued to unfold, they remained close and dear to one another no matter how much time passed between their visits.

A powerful message from a benevolent source

Aliya had always been a “dreamer,” and a “seer,” as it was called. She occasionally had visions and inspirations about life and its ups and downs that she would share with those close to her, and when she shared the perspectives and insights she had gained from her visions, her friends and family always felt comforted and soothed. Aliya’s words helped them to find clarity and peace.

When baby Mila was about fifteen years old, Aliya had been taking her work with her visions to a deeper place. She was working as a healer and a therapist and the circle of people she helped was growing larger and larger.

One night, while participating in a special retreat for therapists and healers, Aliya had a powerful dream. In this very vivid, lucid dream, she had a vision in which she was given important information by some kind of higher, benevolent source or guide. This loving guide showed her that what she suspected all along was, indeed, true: Mila was what could be called the next life of Aliya’s beloved grandmother.

Aliya was elated to be given this thrilling information. It was confirmation that what she had secretly assumed had, indeed, been correct all along: the presence of her grandmother in her life had been wrapping her in a thick blanket of love for as long as she could remember, and with her niece Mila, that blanket was still as present as ever.

She had always known this in her heart, but she had never shared it with anyone. It was great gift. Truly a miracle.

Embracing the dark as well as the light

But, then the vision progressed. To her great alarm, the guide showed Aliya that within ten years’ time, Mila would be killed in an accident. Aliya was shown the whole thing: she saw the accident and all the subsequent events happen as though they were occurring in real time. She felt the tragedy, the wrenching pit in her stomach as though she had been punched in the gut, hard. She felt the sorrow and grief, not only her own, but that of everyone in her extended family. It was devastating. It was all so real. 

“Why are you showing me this?!” screamed Aliya. The guide told her that she was ready to learn this great lesson, that ultimately everything that happens in life is a great blessing, indeed a great gift, that no event, however dark it might appear to be, happens without great, profound, important meaning and purpose. 

“But how can I possibly see this as a gift?” Aliya pleaded. “If what you’re showing me is true, I will be forever changed, I will walk around with this great weight, this horrible sorrow on my shoulders, knowing that someday this could happen. I will never be the same.” 

A simple choice of perspective

And then her guide continued, “You have a choice: You can choose to see this only from your limited perspective as a horrible, dark tragedy, and let it shadow all your days with grief and trepidation…

“Or, you can see this from a truer, broader perspective. You can see that your grandmother chose to come back into your world after her passing – in the form of baby Mila – much, much sooner than is usually done by those who choose to return to physical form. While the experience of time occurs differently beyond the world of physical form, most souls who choose to return to physical life do not do so until after the equivalent of twenty, fifty, or even one hundred years have passed. But your grandmother came back in just barely over a year’s time because she wanted to help you, to help your sister, and the rest of your family. She wanted to be with you to help nurture you and care for you, to bring light and clarity into your life and the lives of all those around her.

“She wanted so very much to return so that she could be with all of you. But she doesn’t want to stay for a whole, long lifetime. She wants to return, once again to the source of what she really is. To that place from where all of you have come. A place of true, unconditional love, of the purest essence, the greatest knowing. A place of clarity, of healing, of peace, of wisdom, of color and light.

“Would you ask her to stay longer with you so that you, in your limited understanding, can enjoy her presence for your own benefit?

Nothing has gone wrong

“When seen from this broader perspective, you can see that her being here is truly a divine gift. The gift of life and love that each of you bring with you as you join your brothers and sisters, families and friends here in this physical plane.

“Every event that happens, no matter whether you perceive it to be dark or light, good or bad, right or wrong, happens with great, great purpose. You may not be able to see that purpose from your limited perspective, but you can reach for it. Your heart knows how to find it. Your heart knows that it is your perspective that makes the difference.

“So, if indeed Mila does leave this plane within the next ten years, know that nothing has gone wrong. Indeed, everything has gone right. She was here for exactly as long as she – from her broader soul-perspective – desired and needed to be, she did what she came to do, and she will then move on and continue shining and sharing her light with all of you, just from a broader place, a different frequency. And, even the events surrounding her passing will bring with it great gifts, if you are willing to see them. It may be easy, from your limited perspective, to say that her life was cut short but, in actuality, her life will be exactly as long as it needs to be for the fulfillment of her greater purpose.”

No one ever dies

After receiving this grand vision, Aliya needed some time to let it all sink in. When she tried on this new, broader perspective, she felt lighter, clearer. She began living each day as if it were her last, finding joy and beauty wherever she could, and appreciating every person that she encountered. 

And she often remembered the important words she received that night of her great vision:

“No one ever dies, and nothing happens without great, great purpose no matter how it appears from where you currently stand. There are infinite perspectives from which to choose, so why not choose one which truly serves love, which embraces the light inside of you and magnifies the light you give to and receive from others. Life truly is a beautiful, never-ending journey, and it continues even beyond what you call ‘death.’ In truth, there is no ‘death;’ there is simply the changing of form.”