My beautiful mom passed away last week just 2 days shy of her 91st birthday. I am sad and I miss her, yet at the same time, I feel surprisingly full. I am overwhelmed by the support that I have gotten from friends and extended family, and I am filled with gratitude to my mom for the gifts that she gave me.
For starters, she gave me life. And she gave me a loving and solid childhood. She gave me the gift of education, and taught me that nothing was ever beyond my reach. Her life was not always easy, but she never complained, and she handled every difficulty in her life with grace and fortitude.
Just 3 days before she died, my mom gave me a wonderful gift. She opened her weary eyes, looked straight at me with full recognition, and said “I love you”. When I went home that evening, I thought that if that was the last thing that I got from her, I could live with that. As hard as it has been to say goodbye, I know that she is now freed from the bondage of a body that was no longer serving her. Her spirit flew away and for that I am grateful.
This past week has been a whirlwind of activity and emotions, and I have barely had time to sit back and reflect on it all. As I look back on the week, it seems as if time shifts when you are dealing with death. Somehow, it stretches out, almost like it is elastic.
My mom’s passing was not unexpected, and I was with her the evening before she passed until about 11:30 at night. When I left, she was comfortably curled up and asleep, and I knew that this was probably my final goodbye. She passed at 5:00 am in the morning, and when I got the phone call from the nursing home, I had just woken up and was about to meditate. In retrospect, I wish that I had taken the call and then just sat with it for a bit and meditated. It would have been good for me to have just let that emotion wash over me. Truly, there was no rush at that point, but instead, I immediately jumped into action, called my brother and sister and rushed over to the nursing home. And once I did that, the wheels were in motion, and life became frenzied. I think I just went on auto-pilot and did what I needed to do to get through the week.
Now that things are starting to settle down, I have been able to sit with it a bit more. Yoga teaches us that nothing in life is permanent, and nothing brings that lesson home more than the loss of someone that you love. I have been thinking all week how life is such a paradox. On the one hand, when things are good, we want everything to stay just as it is, with no surprises and nothing to interrupt our pleasant and peaceful life. Yet, truly that is not what we want, because if that were the case, there would never be anything new in life, and how boring would that be? So… life marches on in time, and in time, all things – good, bad and everything in between – come to an end.
I certainly did not want to lose my mom, but at the same time, I realize that she lived a long and wonderful life. She was full of light, and her light shines on, even though her time here with us is complete.
As I contemplated my mom’s passing, I wrote this poem:
Ode to Irma
A star winked out from the earth today
A beautiful star – full of grace and light
An old star – one full of wisdom.
A star winked out from the earth today,
and the earth feels a little darker.
Upon further reflection, I realized that there may be a different way to look at this. Here is an alternative version:
A star winked ON in the heavens today
A vibrant new star – full of promise for the generations to come
A young star – full of the wisdom of the ages.
A star winked ON in the heavens today,
and the world is a little brighter for having known her.