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she's gone


by Judy
July 4, 2015

I knew this day would come…my mother dying…and after all she was 99 years old and more than ready to go. I was relieved that she died so easily and still I wanted her just a little bit longer. No doubt that would always be the case. I had been with her “nonstop” for three years and before that, off and on, with the 'on' getting longer and longer, for another three years. It was like a love affair where I no longer always knew who was daughter and who was mother – we were both and neither.

Five days after my mom died, as I woke up in the morning these words came through me: “She’s gone. She’s gone.” A bright light that lived, burned brightly for 99 years, is no more. Her memory of course will live on in me and all who knew her or knew her through me and others, but she is gone.

She’s gone – cleanly – peacefully – leaving no trace like a burnt out star.

What did she leave behind?  She left light... beauty… care… and heart. She left LIFE.

The only way I can truly honor her and her love is to let her go – not hold on.

Yes, I will grieve forever, but it won’t be heavy – it won’t tie me down, pull me down. She would not have wanted that.

Her spirit was a force – she survived the death of her only son, husband, mother and father, sister and two brothers – close friends. She survived and flourished and that is what I will do in my own way, in my own time.

She left, in the end, quietly at home in the early morning hours. She slipped away, still warm, but not breathing.

Everyone has different memories of her. My cousin, Matty, who was with me at her small graveside service, spoke about how fast she was in everything she did. No one could keep up with her. She was fast, direct and unusually honest. No hesitation between thought and deed.

Pat, her loyal and loving Nurse’s Aide of six years, remembers her when she could still walk but needed her arm to be steady. They would sit on the terrace for hours and watch the ducks, turtles and raccoons. Pat would tell her stories of Papa Brown, her farmer father and mom would listen with interest. There was a quiet unspoken bond between them.

And my strongest memories are from the last three years post stroke when she was mostly in bed and could not walk anymore. I would lay in bed with her and we would laugh together until the bed was almost shaking – forgetting at times what initiated the laughter. I will never forget the warmth of being next to her, holding her hand, kissing her face.

She left an indelible mark on those who knew and loved her. She had a big heart and her greatest joy was to give to others.

I did not know what it would be like after my mom died and that is still unfolding hour by hour, day by day. At first there was great relief that she died so easily…and then unbearable missing of her…calling out to her to come back to me in some form. One morning – I think only the second day after she died, I was plunged into such sorrow and again some words came through that said, “If you give yourself totally and not want anything for yourself, that will be your salvation.” And a clearing came in my heart. It was like my mother was speaking to me and I knew it was true.

Of course the moments of sadness come – sometimes like a dull ache, sometimes intensely and sometimes it feels like there is a gaping hole in my heart. And then it will pass. Lightness comes. I kid around with Pat or have an intimate conversation with a friend or receive an e-mail, or for no particular reason, there is a shift.

I am listening, ever listening so attentively to what I need/want right now. It feels so important not to rush into anything or rush in any way, to allow this process of ‘grieving’ to speak and guide me; to be guided by what feels right, and not just for me but for a greater whole; a greater completion.

Mom has gone to her resting place. I buried her up north in New Jersey between her husband and son. It was an unexpected sunny day and the atmosphere was sad but not heavy. Beautiful words were spoken. The completion of a life well lived that has left its mark on many people. She is gone but her memory; her spirit will live on forever.


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