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The Milky Way Woman


I heard about the Milky Way Woman while attending Douglas County's first healing retreat for those people who had lost someone due to suicide.

I have been trying to put a spiritual perspective on my mother's suicide, when I was three, for most of my life. See my article: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/20/nov/loved_ones_gather_healing_retreat_wake_suicide

While at the retreat, I met a native American Indian woman who had recently lost her sister to suicide. She told me about the belief that the Lakota Indians have. They believe that the Milky Way is the crossroads between heaven and earth and that an old woman, the Milky Way Woman, stands guard at this crossroads. The Milky Way Woman decides when someone dies whether they go to heaven or are sent back to earth depending on how well they lived their life.

After some research, I discovered that several other Indian tribes have a similar belief, and some tribes believe that the light coming from the Milky Way is the campfires of souls as they make their journey to heaven.

The Lakota Indians have an extremely high rate of suicide among their young people.

I dedicate the following poem to the Lakota people, all of those who have lost someone to suicide, and to my mother, Peggy Miller Wiggins.

The Milky Way Woman 11-14-07

When I was three

And you sent me

Out to play in the

Snow while you

Put a bullet through

Your heart

I did not cry

I curled into a ball

And sucked my thumb

When Daddy came

That night and said

Look up into the

Sky and see your

Mommy's face In the stars

I did not look

I did not want

To see your face

So far away

And so small

But now I'm

Grown and have

Children of my own

I want to stand

On the edge

Of the Milky Way

With you, hand in hand

And when the

Milky Way Woman

Gives the command

You and I

Will take that

Leap together

Wait for me

Where do you believe souls go after they leave the physical body?

How is the soul separate from the spirit?

How is the mind separate from the soul?


Sandy Beverly 10 years, 4 months ago

Wow. What a beautiful, powerful poem! Thank you for sharing it.

Alia Ahmed 10 years, 4 months ago


Thanks for sharing so much of yourself in your poem. I like the concept of the Milky Way Woman and it being a gathering place or rest stop for souls on their way to heaven. I'll never look at the Milky Way the same again. It reminds of a scene in Lion King when he is talking with father. Very comforting!

Linda Hanney 10 years, 4 months ago

I have reread this several times. It is very powerful.

Ronda Miller 10 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Linda, Alia, and Sandy. I love to hear about religions and beliefs of different cultures. It never fails to amaze me how similar we (cultures) are in certain aspects of our beliefs. It seems most cultures seek anwers to a lot of questions by looking skyward.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 4 months ago

very good writing Ronda, also a very important topic. too many die in suicide in our local community. the local intervention protocol still does not seem sufficient. access to mental health services is too difficult.

personally, I would like to see the 2% for art turned into 2% for life and

bearded_gnome 10 years, 4 months ago

[cont'ed] and that money used to make a perninent mental health ward at LMH properly staffed.

Ronda Miller 10 years, 4 months ago

I couldn't agree with you more bearded_gnome (love your name!). I would like our community members to ask under what circumstances a person would enter a hospital and not leave with some type of depression. It occurs with any illness from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and even the wonderful experience of having a baby can cause depression in some people. We need to start treating the brain the same way we treat any other organ. It is well past the time for our progressive community to start treating everyone. Maybe we would have less homeless people also, ya think?

bearded_gnome 10 years, 4 months ago

ronda, you are correct. one particular study I remember indicated very high rates of depression among men after heart attacks. in many ways the mind is more complex to treat and intervene in than is the body. the mind is not merely emitted from the brain. thanks, this is a fitting screen name if you saw me.

Ronda Miller 10 years, 4 months ago

Well, I love the beard. Don't trim it after the holidays, ha!

It seems we often forget that all is tied together. What affects the body also affects the mind. And, what has happened to us mentally affects our bodies.

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

First time I've seen this Ronda. A very moving piece. Losing a parent at any age can be difficult. Under these circumstances could be among the very toughest of all.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

I appreciate your comment, Roe. I am just wondering how you happened to stumble across this after all this time?

Yes, losing a parent at any age is difficult and losing one as a young child affects the child in 'all' ways - some even unknown still in my opinion.

When my daughter was very young - perhaps three or four herself - she lay against my chest and said, "I always hear someone crying inside of you." That description pretty much says it all.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

very nice, ronda. a poem that expresses deep love and has a definite air of acceptance and resolve as well.

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Ronda, When you said you pulled all your blogs but this one I looked for and found it. I will miss what you add to the LJW online site but totally understand your reasons for pulling out. If I decide to follow I will most likely get disapearededed, so if it is worth saving I will have Multi copy it. With that said, A dedication to you...


schula 8 years, 4 months ago

Ronda -- that was a beautiful poem. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Thanks for writing the blog. My life has been better since I met you. If it hadn't been for your blog, I would have never met you or Camper. You and everyone else on the blog really helped me work through my divorce and losing my grandpa. I feel fortunate to have you and everyone else on the blog in my life.

Love and hugs!

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks to all of you for being such a loyal fan base! I'm thankful to have had any type of impact on your lives

The 50"s song, "Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight" would have been a fitting one for my mom. She died in 1955 at the age of 25. Although her hair was black, as opposed to the blonde in the pin up calendar, she wore it in much the same style in the photo. Red lipstick and Bobby socks were in items.

Shula, I gained far more than I gave.

Make it real if you're going to bother, writers. And if you're going to get kicked off, do it in style! You'll be joining a special 'club' of sorts

kansascrone 8 years, 4 months ago


your poem is very powerful and hopeful

i too am interested in others beliefs and your poem shows how we might all gain something valuable from them if we just open our hearts

best of luck ginny

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Virginia, how nice of you to stop by. I hope things are going well for you and that you are making time to write! The more I write the more open I become - not to be confused with liberal, ;)

Happy holidays, Virginia. I'm hoping we have a CJA reunion at some point!

thepianoman 8 years, 4 months ago


That was such a powerful, powerful poem. It was so poignant---such a beautiful way of communicating your thoughts and emotions about your mother and life in general.

I don't know what life will be like without your blogs. I enjoyed reading and interacting with you and everyone else. It's been so cool to have met all of you through the blog.

I hope we can still hold backyard gatherings!


Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

I suspect you'll be 'reading' more of me. A friend made is a friend kept!

This has been a fascinating experience that far exceeded my wildest expectations. I feel as though I have grown a great deal as a person and as a writer through the interaction (both positive and negative) of the ljworld readership. Thanks for being a faithful fan!

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 4 months ago

"Where do you believe souls go after they leave the physical body?"

It is not the soul which goes but the body.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Finally, someone willing to take up the discussion this blog was originally intended to illicit.

I know we've talked before about the 'presence' the 'essence' of the soul as it remains with those of us who are left behind - and I do agree that it is the physical form that is nonessential and leaves us.

The soul is somewhere once the body is gone, however. I don't believe it hovers at the location of the death of the physical self.

Some believe the soul remains on a peripheral plane and is accessible to all who knew, loved, the 'deceased'. Others, such as the Lakota Indians, believe the soul is transcending to a new and different place dependent upon the life of the soul - not a great deal unlike reincarnation.

I have also had the soul described to me as a ball of energy that is universally omnipresent and that also makes sense to me. I have felt the energy from the deceased and it is unlike any other experience. Perhaps our worlds are so close together that we at times walk side by side, almost colliding.

schula 8 years, 4 months ago

Hey -- just stopping by to give everyone the afternoon off. Have a great weekend!

I like your last paragraph above. I oftentimes feel the presence of my grandpa. He passed away in November 2008. He was a huge baseball fan and I can't watch a baseball game or read about baseball without thinking about him.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the afternoon off, schula! I can use it to clean and shop and bake, but unfortunately I will still be working inside. ;)

It is wonderful that you and your grandfather shared the love of baseball and that he was able to instill that in you way before his passing. It is also wonderful that not long after his passing you came to meet another person to share that interest with you. Was that your Grandfather's guiding hand? We may never know, but it certainly is a warming thought.

schula 8 years, 4 months ago

You are welcome for the day off. I hope you are able to get a few of those things on your list done.

I want to think that Grandpa had a hand in me meeting another person that loves baseball as much as Grandpa and I did. It makes me smile to think that that was his guiding hand. I know that Grandpa would like him.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Yes, it sounds as though they are similar in many respects: baseball fans, sensitive and kindly spirited, odd sense of humor.... ;)

BigPrune 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't know what to say. That was a very powerful and moving poem of a tragedy unimaginable. I'm glad you wrote it. I have enjoyed your blogs immensely.

On two very rare occassions, when something very traumatic has happened in my life, I have had dreams where a deceased loved one comes to me in a dream to offer words of encouragement without telling me the future. There is something beyond I am convinced. I too have experienced the energy of someone deceased and it is something you cannot forget.

It's not everyday, especially in Lawrence, that one finds a person unwilling to drink from the Obama koolaid cup. Good luck to you in your future endeavours.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 4 months ago

Ronda: "The soul is somewhere once the body is gone...."

Neil Young: "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere"

" I think I'd like to go back home And take it easy There's a woman that I'd like to get to know Living there

Everybody seems to wonder What it's like down here I gotta get away from this day-to-day running around, Everybody knows this is nowhere.

Everybody, everybody knows Everybody knows.

Every time I think about back home It's cool and breezy I wish that I could be there right now Just passing time.

Everybody seems to wonder What it's like down here I gotta get away from this day-to-day running around, Everybody knows this is nowhere.

Everybody, everybody knows Everybody knows."


( And, hey, Milky Way Woman, I have you pegged more as a Baby Ruth Girl. )

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm actually more of a 'ruth less' girl.... I was a butter finger girl when very young - I've matured into a dark chocolate girl with a hint of raspberry.

Mr. Big; I appreciate your comment and what you have shared online in the forums that I have participated in.

Yep, I threw out the koolaid when I suspected it was poisoned.

While I don't know the extent of your losses except from some knowledge about the loss of your father; it is with interest that I read your comment about dreams. I was just discussing dreams with another person this morning.

While I believe that dreams are from within our own consciousness (sub and un included), I think they surely can have some guidance from the 'other worldly place' where our loved ones reside so close, yet so far away.

One of the things people often experience after the loss of someone they love (notice I use present tense as love is always present), is the person coming to them in a dream state which adds further clarity to a sudden death, or seemingly a means to say goodbye. Often at times such as that, it is difficult to leave the dream state where you are still so connected to the deceased and have to awaken to the harsh reality of what has happened.

Who really knows which of those times is the 'real' world. And if we can believe in dreams, what else lies just beyond the peripheral, so close that if you extended a hand, you could pull it back into this world?

Sometimes your voice

So muffled from the other world

That I can scarcely hear it,

Sounds like drowning death throes

Whispering to me in the night.

It makes me want to react out

Grasp your pale and slender hand

And pull you back to life

Back into my world,

The one you left behind

Know that I feel your breath

Close to my heart

Nothingness now keeps us apart

I do hear your incessant

Woeful sounds, as they

Continue to lull me to sleep.

BigPrune 8 years, 4 months ago

That was a cool transition into your poem

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks, but unfortunately your last comment didn't transition me into another! ;)

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