Friday, December 2, 2016


 My mother passed away two weeks ago.  Her name was Barbara.  Born in 1928, she survived the Great Depression and the Great War.

Barbara loved literature and music and the mountains.  She played classical piano.  When we moved to a new neighborhood in the spring of 1967, I remember finding my way home from school by listening for the sounds of Claire de Lune from her piano.

A little over a year ago, Barbara was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  She fought with such courage, it changed my life to be witness to it.  Last month, my sisters and I, and her very devoted friends, were with her when she passed.

My Mom taught me to love the woods, and she opened the world of books to me.  She taught me that the spiritual path is a normal part of living.  She and my Dad, and all of their generation taught me that when life knocks you down, you get back up.

After the graveside service two weeks ago, I was driving home. It was dark and quiet, and there was finally time for me to feel the loss.  As I drove down I-5, I was feeling sad, and then I started thinking about things I had done and said to my Mom that I regretted.  I decided to turn on the radio, to distract myself.  I was driving through the the dark, steering with one hand and tuning the radio with another,  but there was nothing but static on the radio, so I turned it off.

And suddenly it felt like someone was sitting in the car next to me.  Exactly like someone was sitting there, only I couldn't see anyone.  It felt like Mom was there.  It felt like her, like her presence, only also more.  There was a kind of hush and we just sat together for a bit.  I got to thinking again about the regrets I have about my relationship with her.  Impressions started to come into my mind, not like words, more like fully formed ideas, but they were formed the way Mom would have said them.

She "said" that there was more for the two of us to do, but that was okay because we would see each other again and we would finish.  She said "you are a good man."  She seemed calm and focused.  Then she said goodbye and the presence faded out, exactly like if you were turning the dimmer switch on a light.

Before this encounter, my grief for my mother felt like a hook that held me in a terrible grasp.  After, I felt the loss but also, peace.  I drove the rest of the way home reminded that the next world is much more available to us than we allow ourselves to think.  And that those who are in the next world are more alive than we are.

My relationship with my Mom, as Mother and Son, is complete.  My life continues; work, health problems, money worries, and walks by the river, sunsets and friends and family who hug me.  My Mother continues too, in a place not so far away, where who she was here is only a part of who she is forever.

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