For My Greatest TeacherApril 12th, 2008
It’s been a big week.
My mother died on Thursday.
I don’t know how to write that sentence without dropping it on your foot like a brick. Not that you knew my mother, but no matter how you slice it, mothers are a big deal, and death is pretty huge itself. In fact, of all the clubs I’ve ever been a member of, “People-Who-Have-Mothers” is by far the biggest and of all the things we fear, I’m thinking good ole death is tippy top of the list.
I would say that I’m in shock, but I don’t believe I am. I was in shock earlier this week, when I was making trips to a hospital unknown to me, visiting the body I came out of–in a coma. I was in shock when I got the news a couple of months ago that my mother’s melanoma had returned and had traveled to her precious cerebellum. I was in shock four years ago, when she got that first mole biopsied. But between all those slaps in the face, I think my subconscious mind has been preparing for motherlessness… preparing for this moment right now when it somehow feels normal, or okay, that she’s gone. Holy crap.
So I’m thinking that we are actually wired for death, as much as we are wired for birth, or sex, or love. It’s as if my current response to death is embedded in my neurological make-up and has its own organic flow. And I’m not talking about Kubler-Ross’s Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Grief and Acceptance (although I recognize cycling through those stages, as did my mother). I’m talking about my brain tripping out on this experience in ways I couldn’t have expected–patterns shifting, walls falling, complete with wacky revelations–already! So my mother, one of my greatest teachers, continues her work:
Things I’m learning from my mother’s death:
Priorities: We are hearing from so many people who knew her about what she gave them. It wasn’t stuff, or her accomplishments that made her valuable. Again and again, it was her tenderness and lack of judgment that left their mark. People felt seen and heard by her. It doesn’t seem to matter that she never made a zillion dollars. They didn’t care that she watched ‘Deal or No Deal’, which we all thought was embarrasing and beneath her. No one’s mentioned how show dressed, or her table manners. It was her vibe that mattered. Her spirit. What an amazing gift–to eavesdrop at a deathbed…
Macrobiotics: My mother practiced MB in a wide way for the last ten years of her life, with a couple of strict years thrown in there after the first diagnosis. Before that, she pretty much ate your average sludge. I suppose we will never know what her life would have been like had she continued her previous habits. What I do know is that she got happier and happier in the last years of her life; that she opened emotionally and spiritually in a way she never had before, and that her light began to emanate outward in a powerful, palpable way. The combination of good love and good fuel made her a powerhouse, and although it would have been amazing to see it all continue, I’m so grateful that she ended on such a fine note. She taught me that it’s never too late to get better.
Yin and Yang Lessons: #1: As she waned, others have waxed. As my mother’s light faded, friends and family came shining forth with such beauty. It’s been amazing–like a brilliant dance of love I didn’t know I was a part of. Bittersweet balance.
#2: As much as this is a colossal loss, it is also a gain–I am feeling a particular strength I have never felt before–a propulsion forward which excites me. I think mum would be happy and excited for me too.
#3: In the absence of our mother, my sister and I are silently re-negotiating the terms of our sorority… energy is always shifting and finding balance. Yin and yang amaze me.
“Nature takes care of Her own”: That was one of my mother’s favorite sayings, and it’s proving itself right now. Within 72 hours of my mother’s release, I am feeling gratitude and enjoying some perspective. You see, I expected my brain to hang out in the mud a lot longer than a day, but it did not. That’s what I mean by “Nature takes care of Her own”; my brain seems wired–almost callously and without my permission–to move forward. Will I cry some more? Buckets. Will I miss her? Forever. But will life stop? Well, all I know is that, in the last two months, this family did everything we could to honor the life force: We ate good food, walked barefoot on the grass, thought positively, communicated honestly, and even took our turns on the goddamned exercise bike. So now, with one member missing, to turn our backs on the life force and get sucked into depression feels… wrong. Not morally wrong, just energetically weird and off-course. My mother has expanded. She is free. The morning she died I felt a joy so complete I could have exploded from it. And it was so… natural. Life becomes death and death becomes life. Yin and Yang.
It would have been my mother’s 70th birthday tomorrow… but she’s actually just beginning.
Love your life,
P.S. Dear Bloguees, I have just read the comments that you’ve posted in the last few weeks. Thank you so much for your love and support and prayers. I am overwhelmed.