On October eleventh, it had been one month since my mom's passing. She was almost ninety-three, a good long age, many would say but, her life (and mine) was one of grief as a result of her serious, severe and long term disability when I was nine. She had suffered a stroke from which she fought total left sided paralysis and the loss of her speech.
A career nurse, she had lost her life and I had lost a mother. As a child, I learned to understand the garble that became her speech and she learned to never give up. What followed were years of heart attacks, more strokes, Pakinson's Disease and the eventual need for long term care when she was eighty-two.
In recent years I began to look at our lives for our lives had ever been interwined. From the age of nine I was her advocate, translator, aide and link to all things that normalized her life.
When my father died, I had just lost my first husband when I was thirty-two and had a five year old daughter to raise. Truthfully, I would have preferred to have spent the years that followed being with my daughter as a team as we struggled to build a life without her father. But my mom was no longer able to shop, do laundry or meet personal needs without supervision. She was virtually nonverbal so if she needed to make an emergency call, no one would understand her and she was unable to make calls for doctor's appointments.
My mom moved in with me. It was tumultuous. For her spirit and will and determination were not disabled at all. This is an odd memorandum of my mother for all these qualities left me frustrated. She enjoyed siezing her freedom, cane and all, to leave the house without a note or a call for as long as she wished. This left me on countless occasions frantically calling every police station and emergency room in the city (where thankfully she was often not). Then at about nine or eleven o'clock she would saunter in after having a fun time at the movies!
This was an ongoing conflict but, as I look back I now know many things. She had angels watching her and, most amazing of all, she was walking when she should have been confined to a wheelchair. A top othropedist told us after examining x-rays that her spine indicated that she was not supposed to be walking. He was baffled. At her passing, she survived seventeen heart attacks and more than twenty strokes and the ravaages of Pakinson's. It was not until she was eighty-eight that she was no longer capable of walking at all. It was not until this year that she began to need nitroglycerin, oxygen and suffered numerous bouts of aspiration pneumonia. The last bout compromised her heart and she passed away in her sleep.
During ths last year, I began to look at the very real possiblity that I might lose her. I began to deeply grieve her life-not her imminent death. How odd, you might think but, a spiritual path devoted to acceptance does change how one looks at death. Life is finite so although all the suffering, such as my mom went through, feels eternal, it is not. Death, seeming mysterious and finite to most, is an excursion to another existence, another life if you will, to a spiritualist's point of view. I wondered how would I handle the void of not having my own life evolve around her needs anymore. I was terrified. A large part of who I was would be gone as well. How would I fill that part that would be buried with her?
As my mother continued to become repeatedly ill this last year I evolved from not wanting her to leave me to wanting what was best for her. During her last illness, I worried how much more of the quality of her life be further stripped if she recovered, for lack of a better word.
Totally dependent on others for personal needs, eating and getting into bed she relied on three pages of medications to stay alive. I knew my mother's spirit and self esteem could not take further debilitation. How much can or should a person suffer in one lifetime? I began to pray. I began to pray that if she were to become more impaired or if death were for her greater good I was ready to let her go. I began to pray that she go quietly in sleep for she had suffered too much in life.
I know many people would stop themselves short praying for this for the guilt that is ingrained in each of us would begin to check our innermost wisdom challenging what we think we believe. I did not feel this. I felt it was my responsibility to disconnect the strength of my will with the power of hers which I knew kept her on this plane. I knew that in love, I had to be willing to cut this lifelong bond within myself before she would let go.
When she passed, I felt my prayers (and hers) were answered.
I am still disoriented by her passing. I still expect to get a call and stop myself from making plans to see her for dinner. I am waiting for that astral travel in my Dreamtime that will let me see how happy she is (as I always have when someone beloved passes away) and I grow weary with my own impatience.
But I I hold within me the life spirit she possessed. I honor and remember this for this is her legacy. Ironically I honor the will, strength, determination and stubborness that used to frustrate me so much because I know she taught me the survival tools I needed myself so many times in my life. All the advocating I did for her made me a superb professional disabilities specialist that others called upon when at a loss for advocating those we served. Because I had to be her voice, I became intellectually outspoken. The skills I learned as a child as a result of advocating for my mother has made me the effective communicator I am today.
As for that void within me, it is being filled with the realization that my beliefs are so strong within my own soul, I cannot doubt that her soul is in the total joy she never had here.
I feel I have passed the final test of my faith: saying goodbye to my mother.
Cate is a clairvoyant eclectic witch. Dreamtime is her 'travel' time and it is often in dreamtime that she encounters spiritual guidance and teachings and insight. After almost twenty years as a disabilities specialist she became disabled and returned to her writing and spiritual path. Her first book, "Gifts Of The Spirit", has received rave reviews. Soon to be released: "Her Godmother" and "Grief Dance" which is a poetic book on the grieving process as experienced by her. http://cate_cavanagh.tripod.com