I was back in El Salvador again, continuing with my personal damage assessments. My separation from Tino made me realize that most of the world familiar to me when Tino was alive, no longer existed. Shallow family and friendships crumble when you are no longer married, and business associations diminish when the power of the couple is gone. With the stopping of one man’s breath my world, as I had known it, was gone.

The beautiful home that we meticulously built seven years earlier to house our dreams had now become an empty box. As I packed Tino’s clothing and some other personal items to donate to charities, I realized possessions have no energy other than what we give them. Who really cared what label was on the back of Tino’s silk ties now? The stylish, perfectly laundered dress shirts hung in the closet in strikingly helpless poses. All the specially designed orthopedic shoes no longer needed to wait for their next steps, because now, none would come. Truly my accumulation mode had come to a skidded halt.

I revisited a stack of sympathy cards from members of El Salvador’s high society and realized that their empathy for my loss was really a bon voyage. Each card almost shouted a farewell to my past, announcing that my time in society had expired.

Waiting to fill that emptiness, I was lost and alone with myself, yet it was not a tragic loss. This would be my point of departure into the world of the unseen and a captivating adventure.

Saying I was beginning to go through a spiritual awakening doesn’t quite define what was happening to me since, in fact, there are as many definitions of awakening as there are actual awakenings. This phenomenon is not to be confused with a conversion, such as when a person converts to a new religion or is “born again.” Religious conversion is the acceptance of a new set of beliefs and dogma. I was not converting to a new belief system. I was instead destroying the old beliefs that had become obstacles to my growth.

My ego had also begun to dissolve. This did not mean I felt I was right and that everyone else was wrong. I simply no longer found value in having conversations that lacked truth and impeccability.

I was still broken, empty, and devastated at times because of the loss of what I once thought was relevant, but my need for belonging to anything was shifting. Although I was losing my cultural and societal connections, my existence was strangely that of being a part of everything and everyone around me. Who would have thought that I, the left-brained, practical entrepreneur, would ever utter the words, “I was becoming one with the universe,” but that actually describes what happened. With this shift and the battle through all the trauma and turmoil, I was now in a state of burgeoning enlightenment.