It still pains him whenever Von Braschler thinks about Deb Bennett.
But he knows she’s free.
The two met in 1992 when Bennett rented a spare bedroom to her. She was tall, thin and blonde, her bright eyes filled with life.
Braschler, now 71, later learned his new tenant had miraculously recovered from brain cancer — a survival so unlikely that her case had been written about in several books — and that she was eager to live the rest of her life in peace.
Sadly, Bennett’s cancer returned six months later. She died just days after her 33rd birthday.
Not only her landlord but her friend, Braschler cared for Bennett during her final days. An energy healer with experience working in a hospice, Braschler helped comfort and prepare her for death through therapeutic touch and meditation.
The Everett native was so affected by Bennett’s untimely death that he wrote a book.
Braschler’s new book, “Moving in the Light: The Deb Bennett Story,” follows Bennett’s ordeals with surgery, rehabilitation, treatment and then hospice — and the techniques he used to help with her “life transition.”
An author and former journalist, Braschler hopes his book will be helpful to those with life-threatening illnesses or patients in hospice care.
“We shouldn’t call it death,” Braschler said. “If there’s one thing she (Bennett) taught me, it’s that it’s not death — it’s a transition. Maybe we’re not fully aware of this, but it could be as if we’re walking from one door to the next.”
Braschler has written nine books on a range of topics, including consciousness, chakra healing and time perception.
His book “Confessions of a Reluctant Ghost Hunter,” from 2004, about encounters with malevolent entities and disembodied spirits was runner-up for a book award from the Coalition of Visionary Resources.
Ever since he was a kid growing up in Snohomish County, Braschler wanted to be a writer. He has fond memories of swimming, fishing and biking with his friends around Everett. He graduated from Marysville High School in 1965.
“It was a really good place to grow up,” said Braschler, who now splits his time between Guemes Island near Anacortes and St. Paul, Minnesota. “It was a safe place, and it had a lot of outdoor things and fun for kids.”
Braschler studied journalism at Everett Community College and the University of Washington. After graduation, Braschler worked as a reporter for newspapers in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. He also co-founded the Everett Image Magazine, which was later renamed Northwest Image.
He was the publisher of a weekly in Sandy, Oregon, when he started volunteering at a progressive hospice called Mt. Hood Hospice. It was right next door to the newspaper.
At the hospice, Braschler was taught therapeutic touch, believed to help dying patients feel better. Fascinated by energy healing, he sought out experts and read stacks of books.
Years later, Braschler took a break from journalism to work for the Theosophical Society in America headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois. (Theosophy is the philosophy that a knowledge of God may be achieved through spiritual ecstasy.) One day, he received a call from a man in India.
“He had a very thick Indian accent and he sounded very, very old,” Braschler said. “I could barely understand him.”
The man turned out to be an Indian mystic offering some advice: “He said, ‘I want to tell you something that will change your life forever,’ ” Braschler recalled. “ ‘You need to learn to meditate in the light. Be in the light, live in the light, become the light.’ ”
Braschler met Bennett a few years later. When Bennett’s cancer came back, her condition deteriorated rapidly. She could hardly move or speak, and was confined to a hospital bed.
Seeing her suffering and wanting to help, Braschler offered to share what he’d learned from the Indian guru and in hospices over the years.
“I asked her, ‘Would you like to be able to walk out of here?’” Braschler said. “Her eyes were very alert. She looked very interested.”
He stayed by her bedside for several days, meditating with her. In their meditations, they visualized Bennett opening a door and walking through it.
“By manifesting doors and projecting light to cast upon the path beyond each doorway, one experiences walking without feet, as though journeying across different planes of reality,” Braschler said.
Bennett may have been physically trapped, but her spirit was able to move freely, he said.
“She got really good at (it),” Braschler said. “At some point, I told her, ‘You can do this on your own, you don’t need me.’ ”
Before heading home one day, Braschler asked Bennett if she was comfortable. She squeezed his hand, looked at him with those bright eyes, and said the first word he had heard from her in weeks: “Yes.”
With that one word, Braschler knew she was ready.
“She died the next morning,” he said. “I went partway through those doors with her — but not the whole way. She left pretty much on her own and in a pretty good state.
“She was empowered. She was free.”
Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @evanthompson_1.
“Moving in the Light: The Deb Bennett Story”
By Von Braschler
Shanti Publishing. 284 pages. $14.95.