I drove south on Hover street through Longmont a couple of weeks ago, past the places that Mom and I ate and hung out - the Buffet restaurant, Starbucks, where the old Border's bookstore used to be, the King Soopers where I would take her to get groceries. I remembered stacking her cart with 24 packs of beer when she was not looking and seeing her warm grin at the joke.
I miss Mom dearly. For whatever reason I have not found many people I am close to in my life like Mom was. She was foremost a friend, who would sit with me at the bookstore over coffee and a cookie and talk for an hour or two, catching up on the week or so since last time.
We all have things we would have done over, and things we know we did right. I have said before that one of the best decisions in my life was to volunteer at Horse Rescue on Saturday mornings those six years, which got the hour drive out of the way, and put me within 5 minutes of Mom's house on a regular basis. Those were years when she had plenty of time and not a lot to do.
Mom would walk out to the truck to say goodbye, and express regret that it is going to be too long until I visited again. Little Mollie would lean out the window to get hugs and kisses from Mom.
Happy Birthday Mom, November 15th.
Journal Entry 31 January ~2012
I have been reading a very good book about the transformation a person goes through when nearing death - they begin to withdraw, become more relaxed, silent, and can exhibit a quality of radiance. The period has been described as a clearing of the self so God can fill us, and a time when the "quality of the sacred begins to emerge."1
Mom hasn't spoken for over a week, when she recognized me as I entered her room and she said 'Jim!!.' I sit close and hold her hands, which she seems to respond to. On Sunday I brought her cat to see her. Mom opened her eyes wide, and when I placed her cat on her stomach Mom put her arms around Kitty. Her cat relaxed also, and laid her head down while Mom was touching her.
A few weeks ago Mom apologized for how hard this has all been. Of course I told her that she has nothing to be sorry for, that she has been perfect. She is getting more and more perfect as she struggles from body to spirit, towards the mystery that someday we all will experience. I told her everything will be ok with her, in Heaven, and I expect her to wait for me there.
1The Grace of Dying, by Kathleen Dowling Sing, p8.
It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death, should ever have been designed by Providence as an evil to mankind.
- Jonathan Swift
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.
- John Muir
Journal Entry 6 March ~2012
I had been over to see Mom twice on February 1st, and went again as soon as I got the message from my sister that Mom had passed away, late in the evening.
I was glad I did, since Mom looked so much at peace. I clearly sensed something of spirit and release when I went into her room.
I talked to the staff for a while, and one of them remarked at how the outside window was opened a crack. She said it was a tradition to open the windows when someone died, so their spirit could be released.
She also commented about how the resident big grey cat had been staying near Mom's room the last day or so. I had noticed that myself the night before, when the kitty was lying down at the foot of Mom's bed while I was there.
I didn't feel like sleeping, and went home and picked up little Mollie, my border collie who loved Mom ever since she was a puppy. I drove downtown and Mollie and I walked the city streets until the early hours of the morning.
There are some times when it is just not right to be alone. I put Mollie into the truck and went into Denver's all night coffee shop (Leela's) to be around some kind strangers. I didn't talk much, but it felt better that someone might be there in case I needed to.
Mom had a hard time the last few months, and I suspect that what I felt that night was the freeing she experienced, in leaving behind the pain and difficulties of her physical life, rising to the goodness and perfection of her core spirit.
Mom and I were very good friends for many years. I told her about my backpack trips, and she often said she couldn't figure out what drew me up there, especially alone. I always told her that on solitary trips to the mountains there are no distractions. You see just how beautiful the trees are, how spiritual and mysterious the night is. You get to witness the miracle and peace of the blackness turning to light, the new day beginning with all its possibilities. I also told her that that I never felt alone up there, with these border collies who enjoy being in the mountains as much as I do.
You find out how much you loved someone when they are gone. During my backpack trip the next week I hoped that Mom was somehow nearby, and that she knew how much I missed her.
Listen to 'Across The Great Divide by Nancy Griffith (written by Kate Wolf) - enter userid of 'music' and password of 'music2012' (lowercase, without quotations)
summer 2014 Mom's Cat and Hayley: (Kitty is still doing well)