I’ve helped bring a lot of babies into this world, but I’ve never helped usher anyone out.
Until my mother.
She had a stroke on a Wednesday and was supposed to be fine. But then she wasn’t. My daughter convinced me that now wasn’t the time to brave-up and get on a plane, and using her insight to ease up on myself, Funk rented a car and drove us to Florida.
From the moment I was placed inside that vehicle, I kept wondering why I wasn’t reacting the way I usually do whenever things go this terribly wrong in my life. My throat wasn’t closing up in fear. I wasn’t viewing the world through tunnel vision. I wasn’t fleeing my body trying to get away from myself.
None of that was happening.
I wasn’t even hating on Funk like I typically do whenever I’m this upset. Like, I didn’t once backseat his horrific driving skills.
Instead, all I felt was this strange peace about me. A deep love coming at me, as if unseen hands were holding me. Comforting me. Filling me with strength. Confidence. And this weird zooming feeling, almost like my soul was being pulled to Florida, faster than Funk could drive.
Day turned into night. And before long, the most enormous harvest moon rose up from the horizon, laying an orange path down on the highway for us to follow. Somewhere during the glow, my daughter called. Just as I was telling her the latest news about her grandma, a comet shot across the sky, leaving a wide ribbon of sparkles behind it.
I’d never seen a comet before.
That’s when it came to me. I knew my mom wasn’t going to make it. Finally understood what all those unseen hands were doing on standby.
Helping someone die is shockingly similar to assisting a woman in labor. You pour every ounce of your being into their soul, infusing them with your strength, helping them be less afraid, shaping a picture of the beauty that’s waiting for them at the finish line.
Even more important, help them latch onto their own power.
Together, my brother Santis and I did all that for our mother. We midwifed her over to the other side. But unlike at a birth, we didn’t get to see the celebration at the end.
A friend of my son’s from his teenage years, Marisa, sent a note shortly after my mother died that summed the whole thing up, “My heart is with you as you move into a day without your mom.”
Wise words from a too-soon adult.
Here’s to you if you’ve already walked this walk. Have assimilated this new way of being into your new life. Because I don’t really know yet how to move in the world without my mom. All I know is—no matter the age or the relationship—losing a mother is a tough one.
The photo: My brother Santis proclaiming us the “Power Team.” I cringed when he suggested a few of us go to a bar after the funeral, because all I wanted to do was go back to his house and curl into a fetal position. Thank god I followed his directive, as everyone stayed at that bar for five hours, taking the edge off what just happened.