26 years ago I lost my family to Divorce. My two children -my son, my daughter - were taken from me and all of my efforts to visit with them and stay in their lives were thwarted for seven long painful years! I suffered... I drank... I toyed with suicide... Somehow I also lived, I survived; but always with a great sadness and a broken heart.
I went to nursing school. I met a wonderful, amazingly strong woman with two fine sons of her own. After a time - after three years of feeling lost and abandoned and destroyed - I felt hope again.
I chose to rebuild my life and remarried. But always in the background, through the many wars and battles--in court and out of court--trying to regain my children, I lived with a deep sadness and the constant ache of my broken heart.
I learned this deep heart-wound is called the "Sacred Wound." It is the kind of wound that creates ultimate compassion for the suffering of others. It is a wound so deep that one can consciously use it to relieve the pain in others through Compassionate Service. I became "The Wounded Healer."
Because of this deep compassion I excelled in my nursing career. It was so rewarding. I still did not know how to relieve my own suffering, but the satisfaction I gained by relieving the suffering in others was life affirming for me.
I began conscientiously training to become a Certified Holistic Nurse-Healer. Laying on of Hands, Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, Qigong, Acupressure, Tibetan Tonglen, Esalen Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy, Lomi Lomi, Vibrational Healing, Hypnosis, Shamanic Ceremony--all of these became tools in my Healer's toolbox.
I immersed myself in Compassionate Service for others because of my heart-wound, and also because: I did not know how to heal myself...
For over 20 years, I helped alleviate the pain and suffering of thousands of patients and clients and their families... I learned how to draw the dark negative energy out from others and into my heart through my left hand, clear it, change it, and then send back positive loving energy to each sufferer through my right hand. I logged over 30,000 hours in clinical practice in this way... Self-Sacrificing.
Then last year on 4-27-2012, on my first day of a long awaited vacation on Big Island, I had a heart attack and died. I was revived--obviously--and flown to Queen's hospital on the Island of Oahu where an emergency angioplasty was performed and a single stent was placed in my heart.
Two days later, in shock, asking deep questions and contemplating my mortality, my wife and I returned to Big Island to finish out our vacation in the company of our friends and begin my cardiac rehab and my deep Soul Healing...
Then on May first, two days later, on my birthday, surrounded by my loving Hawaiian Friends and my exhausted wife, I sat down to enjoy a fabulously prepared Birthday dinner... Together we celebrated my return from the dead.
About 15 minutes into my meal something strange happened to me... While everyone around me was eating and enjoying, I suddenly slipped out of time... The sound of my friends talking around me, as I sat on the floor with my plate, became muted and faded into the background... And I had a vision...
A group of Hawaiian Elders, Kupuna, seven Men and Women gathered around me in a tight circle. And they chided me! They scolded me! They told me I could no longer use Compassion to Heal people. They said, using Compassion like that is not compassionate for myself. They said:
"You are also someone's child. You cannot hurt yourself anymore. From now on, you have to Heal with Aloha. When you use Compassion to heal others, someone always has to be suffering to deserve your attention. But with Aloha, everyone you meet deserves your attention. From now on use only Aloha to Heal, Unconditional Love and Acceptance. And the Aloha you give to others will also heal you yourself."
And then I was back... Shaken and amazed...
So now, one year later I am thinking and looking back... The Aloha extended to me by all the staff at Queen's Hospital was amazing. And also the kindness shown to us by one very special woman -- now our dear friend -- Jean Tanimoto; someone my wife and I had barely met! She came up to the hospital and extended her Aloha and her calm presence to us, caring for me and my wife, and then even driving us to the airport when I was released...
All in all the Aloha I received in Honolulu was incredibly humbling!
Arriving back on Big Island, we then experienced the warm embrace and Aloha from our dear friends: Rev. M. Kalani Souza, his wife Julie, Chris Shaeffer, Nedi and her husband Jeff. Their welcome filled me with such gratitude and loving energy...
So... There is no way for me to celebrate my Death / Rebrith Day without acknowledging the Love and Aloha and Healing Mana they extended to us.
Mahalo nui loa. Aloha no!
In the immediate days that followed -- and indeed for the many long months that have passed from then until now -- I have cried and cried and cried and slowly purged myself from the consequences of my past mistakes.
I did not intend to hurt myself. I had been raised to believe Compassion was noble, that Self-Sacrifice was noble, and no greater calling can come to a man then to lay down his life for his family...
I know now how wrong and foolish that belief system is... It killed me!
One year ago today, on April 27th: I died!
David Cowan, RN, a heart-broken father, depressed husband, and self-sacrificing Nurse-Healer -- a long-sufferring and foolish foolish man -- passed away...
And somehow, because of Spirit and Fate and the care of others, I was reborn as Pahka Dave: A loving husband, father of four wonderful adults and grandfather to eleven beautiful grandchildren.
Pahka -- in case you wonder -- is not a Hawaiian word. I am actually a native born Californian. But one of my granddaughters: Gweni, could not pronounce Poppa. She called me Pahka. The name stuck... I am proud to be Pahka Dave.
On Big Island, just before we left for Hilo to fly home, I said to Kalani: "Well, I guess this is some kind of initiation?"
And Kalani said: "That was a big Kupuna Initiation for sure! Now you get to live a new life as an Elder and Grandparent and be that one who knows the hard way."
Thank you Kalani for all your wisdom and guidance and for teaching me and sharing your Aloha, your Ohana, and your many Lessons of the Ha.
And thank you Jean for all your selfless generosity! When I think of you and your loving kindness towards Patti and me I still marvel at you and feel all weepy with gratitude.
You two will always especially be Hawaiian Angels to my new heart! Aloha mai. Aloha pono! I am blessed! A happy and grateful man! Hao la!
Enough for today. A beautiful day!
--Pahka Dave (Originally posted on 4-27-2013 one year to the day.)