Today is the six year anniversary of my mother’s death. Each of the previous five years I have made it a point to commemorate the day in some way and to be doing something I love. One of the greatest gifts my mother gave me was teaching me to be happy, so on the day of her death it seemed important to honor that by doing something that made me happy.
The first year after her death I was in Paris. I went to Notre Dame that morning and at 11:32 – the exact moment of her death given the time change – I was staring at stained glass in Notre Dame and saying a prayer. I spent more than an hour there, crying, praying and healing. Afterwards I went to Angelina’s and had my favorite chicken curry salad for lunch and finished off with their famous hot chocolate. I then walked down to Catherine’s, my favorite perfume store in Paris, and shopped. It was a lovely way to commemorate the day.
In other years I went to Quivira, Amarillo and Santa Fe/Taos. Last year I was at the artist’s retreat in Ohio. Each of these has been a different kind of spiritual experience. I have always believed in what I call “geographic therapy” and it does well by me.
Last year I decided that it would be my last year to commemorate in exactly that way – that five years was enough – that I must learn to cope without travel. After making that decision I realized that this year the days of the week would fall the same way – she died on Friday, May 11 and we buried her on Sunday, May 13 – Mother’s Day. The days and dates are the same this year. So, it seemed like a starting over in a way, a good time to take a fresh approach.
I also realized that this day is of importance only to me. Even the first year when I was traveling with someone, I went to Notre Dame alone, I went to lunch alone, I wrote alone. Grief is private for me, but not because I don’t want to share, but because others don’t treat it respectfully. To be involved with a person’s passing from this world is an honor, and should be treated as such. I refuse to share that with anyone who doesn’t give that the respect it’s due.
The morning my mother died I drove to the hospital where my brother, Jim, had been with my mom. He called my other brother’s house, where I was staying, telling us the end was near. We had known the end was close and I was just getting ready to go out the door when the phone rang. I had wanted to go early that day because we thought it might be the last one. So, we drove the 30 minutes to the hospital.
Greg asked if I wanted him to drive and I said, “no, I would make it or not – whatever was meant to be.” When we arrived Jim was waiting in the parking lot for us and no words needed to be spoken – I knew she was gone. Jim and I embraced and cried while Greg looked on. He told me later it was the most genuine emotion he’d ever seen from people.
All three of us were blessed to adore our mother, and at the end of her life we all filled different roles. None of us cared which of us was with her when she died, but we wanted someone to be there. We took shifts and someone stayed with her around the clock the last few days. I’ve often thought Jim was the perfect one to be with her at the end. He was strong enough to tell her it was OK to let go, something that needed to be done. I hope I would have been strong enough to do it, but I don’t know that I would have been. Things work out the way they are supposed to and Jim was with her when she passed and she went very peacefully after he told her she didn’t need to hold on for us. I’ve been so very thankful he was there to do that. We all just wanted her to be comfortable and peaceful. What more can you hope for?
I was hoping to share a photo of my white roses in honor of Mother’s Day, but with the late frost I don’t have any blooms yet. So, I snapped a couple of pix of my mini pink roses today. I thought this one the perfect one to share since it has three roses, each in a different stage – just like life.
If you are fortunate enough to still have a mother here, take this opportunity to tell her you love her.
Real Life (scroll down – second post on page)