Bambi and Finding Purpose

I miss my mom so much. I keep waiting for a sign from her, to know that she’s near, guiding me. Right after she died I got a lot of signs, mostly feathers and butterflies and a few owls, but now the signs seem to be fading away. It feels like she’s slipping away from me, and I don’t like it. I don’t want to let her go. The timing seems so bad, just as I’d decided to embark on a new career path, because now I’m back to where I started:  lost. Completely and utterly lost.

Maybe I’m destined to work in a grocery store for the rest of my life. Maybe this is just it for me. My mother worked in retail for 30 years and hated it. But she had my sisters and me, who gave her purpose, and then she met the love of her life, retired early, and spent the last 20 years of her life happy with him, and the last 10 happy being a grandmother and happy with helping others through volunteer work.

Working in a grocery store is not so bad. There’s not a lot of pressure, and I don’t have to sit behind a desk all day. I get weekdays off to run errands or do whatever I want to do. It’s an organic grocery store, locally owned, and my co-workers are easy to talk to, and all on a similar path as I am.

The problem is, according to Wayne Dyer in his book Your Sacred Self, I am looking for my purpose in the physical world, and my purpose is not there. Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now writes that your purpose is to grow. I keep reading in different books that my purpose is to love, learn, and grow. I get all that, and I’ll do that along the way, but what am I supposed to do for money? To earn a living?

I feel pretty certain I do not want to return to school. I’m $65,000 in debt, and if I continue I’ll have double that… Though I must admit, I don’t care as much about debt anymore because everyone has it and you can’t take it with you. More importantly, I don’t feel comfortable giving clients the false notion that nutrition will save their lives or promote longevity. Everyone dies. You may as well enjoy some ice cream while you’re here.

While he doesn’t expect me to become the President of the United States, my boyfriend might not be too thrilled with my plan not to return to grad school. He should not be expected to shoulder the financial burden, nor do I want to be a lousy role model for his kids. I don’t want the message to them to be that they too can borrow tens of thousands of dollars to get a worthless liberal arts degree, then borrow more to get a worthless master’s degree in creative writing, then borrow more to study for a master’s in nutrition, only to work in a grocery store for $13 an hour. Their parents have their shit together, so they probably will not go down the same road as I am, but I still feel like a failure.

Everything I read says to think positively and envision the future I want, because it’s all a self-fulfilling prophecy. But how do you let go of the deep-rooted fear? This fear tells me I’ll be homeless, destitute, that I’ll outlive everyone, which means I get to watch all my loved ones die, and ultimately I’ll die alone at the age of 103 in a nursing home, after suffering from Alzheimer’s, stroke, and cancer.

The only answer that comes to me now is that I am happy with where I am today, and if I can focus on that instead of worrying about a future that probably will never happen, I can find peace, at least in this moment, because this moment is all we have.

From the books I’ve been reading on grief, it’s not uncommon to feel lost after the death of a loved one. I have felt lost for most of my life, so what’s a few more months or years, or the rest of my life? At some point I think you just decide this is it, and you have to just be okay with it, or suffer. My therapist reminded me that I can get an admin job, maybe at a hospital or clinic, and work the same hours as my boyfriend, making more money than I am now, and once we live together I can contribute more around the house, which I’m good at and would do anyway because I enjoy cooking and prefer to have a clean house. She also reminded me that if we both had high-powered jobs we’d spend more eating out and doing other things, and I also realized that would be a stressful life that I would not want. I don’t want to spend my free time studying or worrying about someone else’s health and whether or not I gave sound advice, nor do I want to find out someone died of a heart attack after taking the wrong supplements that interfered with their medications. Instead I want to spend my free time with my boyfriend, writing, and expanding my spiritual life. I envision a life in a small house in the countryside with a garden of vegetables, herbs, and some flowers. Neither of us likes a lot of stuff, so it would be minimal with just a few meaningful things and the things we need, and our bikes. Evenings would be spent on the porch watching birds and talking about life, and cozying up to watch documentaries at night.

Though I’d expected and hoped that my mother would live to be well in her 80s or 90s, really that she’d just live forever, maybe the timing of my mother’s death was just right. Maybe this is God’s way of saying it’s time to grow up now and be on my own. Still, I feel like Bambi.

 

Love

If I had moved to North Carolina to my mother’s house two years ago after entering into another stage of my mid-life crisis, I would never have met the true love of my life, who I call Steven on this blog for anonymity purposes. On the one hand, I’d have been forever grateful for that time with Mom, and I would have never have known what I was missing with Steven, and probably I’d have eventually met someone else. There’s no way to know for sure what path my life would have taken, but I can’t imagine anyone being more wonderful than him. At 40 years old and after two divorces, I guess it’s about time I met someone who I shared this kind of love with—and I’m grateful, because I realize some don’t get this lucky at 40 or at any age.

My love for Steven grows stronger as time passes. He has been a real rock during this time of grief over my mother’s passing. He drove all night, all the way to North Carolina from Maryland, to take me to see Mom before we had to remove her from life support after her stroke. Steven’s work required that he attend a leadership training so he had to drive all the way back a few days later, and then he returned for her memorial service, even after I (weakly) suggested he stay home due to the fact that he just had back surgery a month earlier and needed to avoid sitting down (and driving) for long stretches at a time. But he wouldn’t hear of not being there for me, and he never complained once.

One major reason I am so drawn to Steven is that we have similar spiritual beliefs and a strong desire to connect with God and a spiritual community. We both like nature and bike-riding. We have similar taste in music and movies. He often seems to know what I’m thinking. When I have a concern about something, he often arrives at it without my saying anything. Not everything is perfect all the time, and we’ve had our share of hard times, but we share a love that is profound, beautiful, and true.

My mentor told me a long time ago that most people get into relationships with people who are either like their mothers or their fathers, and at the time I thought maybe he was sort of like my dad because they’re both scientists (as if any two scientists are alike), but my oldest sister met him and later said he’s just like Mom. It had never occurred to me, but it’s true. Mom was the kind of person who was in your corner (as is my other sister), and so is Steven. If she suspected someone didn’t have your best interests at heart, she had no time for them. Mom was also the kind of person, who, as Steven’s daughter put it (about him), “you want around if a major disaster strikes.” It’s true. I was with her during some major storms, and she always had supplies and made sure you were safe. She also had little patience for acts of injustice or inequality. That’s why she spent her free time doing volunteer work for her local food pantry, to help people who could not afford to buy food. Steven is the same way, standing up to the speaker at his leadership training to defend a woman in a wheelchair who could not participate in the exercises which required standing and walking. The speaker refused to change his exercise, and so Steven walked out. Mom would’ve done the same thing. Not many people would do that.

When I go to bed at night, these days I think of Mom. I think of the last time I was with her, a few days before she died, when we kissed each other on the cheek, and how smooth her skin was. I think of hugging her. I think of kissing her hand when she lay in the hospital bed, and how warm her hand was. I imagine that she’s with me, and I believe she is with me always.

Prior to Mom’s passing, I would think of being nestled in Steven’s arms when I went to bed at night. When I want to feel comforted or if I need to try to sleep, I just imagine myself enclosed in his embrace.

One of my favorite artists is a band called Hot Chip. Their songs are filled with beauty, poetry, spirituality, love, and joy, which is rare (for me) to find (and enjoy). Sadness, melancholy, longing, heartbrokenness, and loss—these are easier for most to express in a song or poem. But joy and love? Not so much. Maybe it’s because our brains are wired to treat sadness like Velcro and happiness like Teflon, as I’ve heard Tara Brach say, and as our minister said last Sunday. Whatever the case, it’s a rarity. I’ve been listening to this band for a long time, though I’ve never paid much attention to this particular song, until today, when I realized he’s singing, “Don’t I know there is a God? / Now I know there is a God in your heart.” Full lyrics are here. My interpretation of this song is of one questioning his purpose, and perhaps of the passing of a loved one, but life goes on for those of us “people of the earth” who still have more to do.

Their song “Alley Cats” is possibly my favorite Hot Chip song, and also appropriate as it speaks to the death of writer Joe Goddard’s mother (among other things), but this particular song, “Slush,” stood out to me as I was writing this blog entry—mostly because it came on as I was writing and it feels like a message from my mom, or from God, or both, to tell me that I am still with the people of the earth, that I still have more to do.

And here’s “Alley Cats” for good measure.

 

Searching

I had a dream a week ago that I was looking through a photo album of my niece and nephew when they were toddlers and I felt very sad, like I missed them. It was as if I were Mom. Then a few days later I dreamt that I was with my former mother-in-law, but her voice was Mom’s, which made me cry, because it reminded me of Mom. These dreams have nothing to do with what I want to write about today, but I wanted to include them because I like to remember important dreams like this, and wanted to keep them somewhere for future use. The dreams tie in with what I’ve read about a collective soul, and the idea that my mother is always with me, and she’s everywhere at once.

A lot of what I’ve read or heard about spirits seems to be coming true for me now. As I’ve mentioned, I see feathers a lot lately whereas before I did not, though I looked for them often. My boyfriend’s bedside lamp turned on the other night at random without the switch being physically turned. Then we heard what sounded like hammering on the wall, or beating on the upstairs floor (our ceiling) yesterday, yet his roommate was not awake (the door to upstairs was partially open and I had just been upstairs), nor was anyone outdoors doing construction (we opened the outside door to check while it was happening). I’ve always wanted a guardian angel, but she has never made herself known to me, as far as I know, until now. Of course I believe she is Mom, though I’m not sure who my other guardian angels are (possibly her mom and dad). A friend told me that I’m closer to my mom now than I’ve ever been, and that now Mom is in a position to help me more than she ever could’ve when she was alive, because she is everywhere now, and always with me. Still I want answers. Quick and easy answers that will satisfy my never-ending pursuit of my life’s purpose in terms of a career.

At church yesterday the minister talked about joy, and started the talk with this video:

The minister asked the congregation what our impressions of the video were, what Yosemite Bear was expressing, and the answers were joy, wonder, amazement, awe. He asked us what stood out to us, and one man said he was embarrassed for the guy, an answer that surprised me, and made me feel sorry for that guy, and another woman said she felt love for him for being so free. I myself felt similar except that after a minute or so, I felt that it was mildly uncomfortable to watch in front of a group of people, because I wanted to get to the point and hear what the minister had to say about it. That is my problem: always in a hurry, and I suppose in that way I related to the guy who was embarrassed for Yosemite Bear. But Yosemite Bear isn’t in a hurry. He enjoys the moment, revels in the beauty of it. What really stands out to me is his question:  What does it mean?

Indeed, what does it mean? It’s what I call a God moment, a moment in which one of the wonders of the world reveals itself to us, a miracle of beauty, created by the sun’s rays as they shine on rain drops.

My whole life I’ve been searching for meaning. It reminds me of a moment when I was in high school, and I’d gotten a book on the enneagram personality types, and how Mom instantly recognized that I was a 4, and how surprised I was at that recognition. At some point, maybe then, either she said, or I thought, that she knew me better than anyone else. It was a revelation because I felt so misunderstood. My senior year of high school I’d considered moving to Las Vegas, not because I knew anything about what a depraved land of artifice that would be, but because it seemed exotic and mysterious and adventure-filled, and my boyfriend, who lived there, had tried to convince me it would be a good idea. My mom asked me why I thought it would be a good idea to move there, and I was crying at the time, and responded, “Because I love him?” I hadn’t meant the words to come out like a question, but no bigger truth could have come from me than those words in that way at the time. I’ll never forget the words Mom said to me then. She looked at me and said, “Listen to me. There is no one, I mean no one, who loves you more than I do.”

One might wonder why, knowing how strong a mother’s love for her child is, as Mom often reminded us, that I would not have a child myself. Mom often said that there’s no bond stronger than a mother’s love for her child. She often told my sisters and me that she didn’t know what she’d do without us. “If it weren’t for you girls…” When we were growing up after her divorce from my dad and when she was married to her second husband she really struggled sometimes. She was an emotional person, and my stepfather, like a lot of men that age and time, and possibly like a lot of men today, wasn’t helpful around the house. “It’s the backlash of the women’s movement,” she’d say. She was a supporter of women’s rights, being a strong, outspoken woman herself, but dismayed that now we had to do both the domestic work and go to work too.

Maybe that’s why I never had children, because I couldn’t see how working full-time, raising kids, and taking care of the house was feasible. Or maybe it just wasn’t God’s plan for me. If, God forbid, something happened to my boyfriend, I’d probably go ahead and try to have a child, because now I can see that I have missed out on that kind of love… A few years ago I went to a psychic who told me I’d have two kids, a boy and a girl, and a few days ago I was thinking what a crock that was, but then realized that my boyfriend has a boy and a girl, and that I’m likely to become a stepmother to them. I know it’s not the same as being a mom, but I’d be grateful to be their stepmother.

After watching the rainbow video, I wanted to know more about Yosemite Bear, so I found this video:

Yosemite Bear’s life seems to me a blessing. He has a beautiful piece of land in a gorgeous space, and he spends each day close to nature. He may not have a big house, but he has just what he needs. That is how I want to live. The problem is, I don’t know how. I am sure that more will be revealed to me as time passes. In the meantime I will keep searching.

Spirits, Mediums, and the End of the World… You Know, the Usual Stuff!

My sister suggested that when one is skeptical, it releases negative energy that the mind or soul becomes impermeable to signs one gets from deceased loved ones. She also said that the pendulum could swing too far the other way, that some see signs in everything, when not everything is necessarily a sign. So I’ll keep an open mind and heart and I plan to see a medium in November with my hairdresser who’s seen her several times already. I also picked up a book by James Van Praagh, a medium.

What strikes me is how all the accounts of near-death experiences and communication with the deceased are similar. How can everyone be wrong?

angel-featherAlso, how uncanny is it that I’ve seen so many feathers since Mom’s passing, yet never saw feathers before? How is it that I heard so many owls in the days after her passing, but rarely before or since, in spite of the fact that I’ve gone outside early morning and late at night? How is it that I’ve seen so many butterflies, yet rarely saw butterflies before? Maybe they were there and I wasn’t paying attention, and if so, that’s why it’s important to pay attention.

The minister at my new church prays to keep our hearts and eyes open, and the lines in one of the songs was, “You were there but I could not hear you,” or something along those lines, about how God is all around us, all the time, but we are not always aware. I like to think Mom’s spirit is too, and Van Praagh writes in his book Healing Grief, to think of and talk to our deceased loved ones because they are here and they hear our thoughts, feelings, and words.

One of my friends, a woman about Mom’s age, suggested that so many people she knows have started dying since last year, and I noted the same thing, and she wondered aloud if they were perhaps leaving for a reason, before some major disaster happens. I have to wonder that too. Maybe this foreboding sense of an impending apocalypse is just cultural, or maybe there’s more to it. I suppose whatever the case, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, though it’s interesting to ponder. When your mom just died, it really does feel like the end of the world.

And it is the end, in a sense. It’s the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another. Right now I feel like I’m in the middle of a forest with no clear-cut path. I have faith that it will become clear to me as time passes, with my mother’s spirit to guide me.

I don’t know why, but this is the song that popped into my head just now. It kind of reminds me of my mom, though my dad’s the one who played Simon and Garfunkel’s music so much when my sisters and I were growing up.

Birds and Purpose

downy_woodpecker9/16

Last night I had two different dreams in which I cried so hard it felt good to have that catharsis. That’s all I really remember, other than sitting in bed with my father, and having a glass of beer which did nothing for me, then realizing I’d wasted six and a half years of sobriety on a glass of beer that did nothing for me.

All I really want to do is sit in my boyfriend’s backyard in the little chair he bought for me and stare at the downy woodpecker and the blue jays that have yet come to the bird feeders I bought for them. A few new birds came to one bird feeder but appeared to be unable to get the sunflower seeds out, so I may have to get new seed or a new feeder. I’m very new to this, so I don’t know what the problem is. I bought it for the blue jays, who are MIA right now, and I don’t know who the pretty little birds are that came to check out the feeder. Possibly chickadees, maybe wrens. Maybe the blue jays will be able to get the seed. A cardinal came to check out the suet I got for the woodpecker, but he couldn’t get to it either, so I moved it—but now I think squirrels will probably get to it instead. Another new, yet-to-be-identified—with my handy Backyard Birds app—bird perched atop a branch of the backyard tree (also haven’t figured out what kind it is—couldn’t find any good apps for tree identification) and a tiny little white and pink feather floated down and landed near my feet. I read somewhere that white feathers are a sign of angels, so I’ll take it as a sign of my mom. Speaking of signs, last night around 2:30am I sat outside and heard the sound of what I think was the quiet, distant sound of a barred owl only twice. This is the first time I’ve heard an owl since the week or two after Mom passed, which is odd because I’ve been outside early morning and late at night plenty of times. I’ll take it to mean all those other times I heard the owls were signs of Mom, because she loved owls.

I’m not sure what to write about today. Yesterday I had therapy as I have been for maybe six months or a year now and the time went by too fast. I didn’t cry, and haven’t cried lately, though I feel sad all the time, and tired. I have to work late tonight, so I can’t sit around all day staring at birds. My boyfriend has to go out of town to visit his kids, so I’ll have to stay at my house with my roommates whose presence is hard for me due to their insensitivity and lack of acknowledgement. A simple, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and “How are you holding up?” would suffice, but instead they say nothing.

I don’t want this blog to be a downer, so I’ll focus on gratitude. Some of the things I’m grateful for:

  • That I get to listen to and watch birds
  • Dried figs and brie
  • Kindle and the library
  • That I met someone who I love deeply
  • That even though I lost my mom, I had a good mom who I loved and will always love very much
  • That one of my roommates actually did reach out to me today, after I’d typed the preceding paragraph
  • That a pink and white feather floated through the air and landed at my feet
  • For the sound of owls
  • That one of my friends emailed me today

9/17

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any doubts about studying nutrition, especially now, given that my mom, who lived a fairly healthy life compared to most people her age I know, lost her life due to a stroke, just like that. My original plan was to work with people who have diabetes and cancer, so it’s not like I’d planned on saving anyone’s life, but rather to alleviate pain and improve quality of life. On the other hand, we’re all going to die anyway, so why not just eat cupcakes? We avoid salt to reduce or prevent hypertension, but now there’s question about salt’s role in hypertension, so how can I, in good faith, recommend that someone eat or avoid salt? What if I recommend a food or a supplement that causes serious health consequences, or even death?

The underlying question that has plagued me for all of my life, especially now, is this:  What is my true purpose in life? It’s so frustrating now that I am inclined to just do something, anything, and stop asking what the purpose is. It seems like I’ll never get any answer, so why continue to frustrate myself in this fruitless pursuit. On the other hand, maybe I should just continue to search, no matter what it takes. There’s a part of me that wants to do anything and everything, including visit psychics and mediums. I suppose searching can’t hurt, and that it doesn’t mean to stop taking action. It’s just that my actions are expensive. Grad school will put me in about $120k in student loan debt; currently I’m $65k in debt. Do I stop now, while it’s still fairly low? Or do I continue because this may be the thing for me?

Unless some miracle happens and I find some well-paying job that I love without having to return to school, my question is already answered. I have to go back, because I cannot afford to live on my own otherwise. Also, it would not be fair to my boyfriend, who would have to pay more than his fair share of the bills, and no one should have to support someone else who isn’t their child. Still, I wish I knew what my future looked like. What I really need is confidence, and faith, so maybe if I just learn how to practice that, I will feel okay.

This is the song in my head right now–it seems appropriate:

Taking My Mother Off Life Support

What I haven’t written about are the details of Mom’s death, which I want to include now so that I have this record for later. I can’t imagine I’d forget anything but memory can be elusive.

We had made the decision to remove Mom from life support (as were her wishes due to the lack of any chance of a full recovery), and we’d decided this would happen a few hours after my sister’s plane came in so that she’d have a chance to say her goodbyes. During that time I had several opportunities to sit with Mom and tell her everything I wanted to say to her:  that I love her more than anything in the world, that she was a good mother, how grateful I was to have had her for a mom. I told her I didn’t have any issues with her for what happened in my childhood, and that I wish I’d had more heart-to-heart conversations with her. I introduced her to Steven, and told her I thought they’d like each other. I shared some memories with her, mostly of when I lived alone with her in high school. I told her I’d miss her. At one point my cousin suggested that miracles do happen and some do recover, though the doctor had said there was no chance, but just in case I asked her to squeeze my hand if she could hear me, and if she thought she could recover, and she did not squeeze my hand. Near the end I told her we would let her go. I touched her face and her hair. I held her hands which were hot, and I kissed her hands, and I touched her feet which were cold, and I tried to warm them with my hands. She’d had a pons stroke, and it affected the part of the brain that controls the body’s thermostat, which makes parts of the body hot and cold at different times. I cried a lot.

angel-sky-2I spent as much time as I could in the room with Mom, leaving only to do what was necessary:  eat, go to the bathroom, and I talked to those who’d traveled to see her, mainly Mom’s sister and her husband, Mom’s brother, one of my cousins, my stepfather, my sisters, my boyfriend, and my best friend. Mom’s next-door neighbor also visited. Steven came into Mom’s room with me a few times, but mostly I was in there with her and my sister or stepfather, and a couple of times my aunt, uncle, and cousin came in. My uncle spent the whole time talking about his family as if Mom wasn’t there, and I tried to be polite at first, but finally I just ignored him and looked at Mom and held her hand. I was on the verge of screaming at him to get out, that I had a limited time with Mom and we didn’t care about his stupid family. This particular uncle was estranged from the family, so no one had talked to him much, and Mom was closer to my other uncle, who surprisingly didn’t come but whose son came up from Florida. My sisters and I were hurt, surprised, and angry that he didn’t come, and thought maybe he just couldn’t take it, although that didn’t make us feel much better. He did make it to the service but it seems to me that he really missed out on getting to say his goodbyes. Mom adored him, and I believe her feelings would be hurt knowing he couldn’t take time out of his schedule to see her in her last moments. Like a lot of men of that generation, maybe he just could not deal with the emotions. I like to believe Mom’s soul was in the room with us, and that she could hear what we were saying, and that she could feel our love for her. I hope that she could feel her brothers’ love too, regardless of their thoughtless actions, as much as I hope she feels my love at this very minute from where I live, 500 miles away from where she lived.

Mom did not look like herself in the hospital. Her eyes were closed and her head was turned to the side, her face was sunken in, her lips were swollen, and her tongue was hanging out. Under her nose were tubes providing oxygen. She was in the trauma unit on a hall with others who were also dying, as far as we could tell, and in the waiting room were large families like us who stayed up all night, coming and going in twos and threes to visit their loved ones. The medical staff allowed only two of us at a time, though we sometimes snuck an extra person in, and they never scolded us. The hospital room was dark; they didn’t turn on the garish overhead lights, which made it more peaceful and comforting.

After about 24 hours of being on life support, my sisters invited anyone who wanted to come in with us during the process of her passing as we took her off life support, because they didn’t want anyone to feel excluded. I had assumed that only my sisters, stepfather, and I would be the ones in the room with her, but my cousin wanted to be there, and my sisters were kind enough to invite anyone, so I asked if Steven could be there, because I wanted him there. Being the youngest I felt like I had to ask permission. I was glad that Steven was with me, and his presence was a real comfort to us all. Afterwards my sisters said they were glad he was there, that Mom would’ve liked him, that they liked him too, and that his presence was welcome, all of which I felt grateful for. It was hard to pay attention to him or anyone else because I was so distraught and focused on my mother, though at times the anxiety was so high that I’d worry about not talking enough to him or the others. My sisters and I talked to each other mostly, and were a real comfort to each other. At the same time, none of us had gotten any sleep in 24 hours and were full of anxiety and grief.

The chaplain came in with us to say a prayer before Mom passed. She was a young woman, probably younger than me, but she seemed to know what she was doing. We all held hands in a circle with Mom, and I held one of her hands. I may have been a bit greedy with her hands, and after the prayer I realized it, and offered the others to hold her hand and stand by her side. Now that I think of it, I feel selfish and guilty for holding her hand during the prayer… I just didn’t want to leave her side. One of my sisters was on her other side, but I can’t remember which sister. I believe my oldest sister was by her other side and the middle sister was at her feet, though my stepfather may have been at her feet while my middle sister was next to my oldest sister.

The nurse and chaplain explained beforehand that the process of removing life support can be traumatic to watch, and suggested we turn away. Often people will gasp for air and have a gag-reflex that can be hard to see, so everyone but my oldest sister agreed to turn away. However, Mom didn’t do that. She just peacefully passed. She didn’t appear to be breathing, which was no surprise because the doctor had said she wasn’t breathing on her own. But I guess the heart continues to beat for a minute or so, and it was impossible to know exactly when she passed by looking at her, but her face quickly turned gray.

A few months ago I read a book about people who’d had near-death experiences, and in many accounts they spoke of not being in their body, specifically of floating above their body in the hospital room, of seeing the doctors, nurses, and family members in the room, of seeing a white bright and deceased loved ones who they wanted to join, of feeling immense love and joy. I like to think this was Mom’s experience, that she could feel our love for her, that she felt at peace, and that she is with her mother, father, and grandmother now. Maybe my dog and cat are with her, and maybe she met my friend who died this time last year.

There are more details but I’ll leave it at that for now, as this has already been a long enough blog post. May my mother rest in peace.

Here’s a song by Enya that years ago Mom had mentioned to my sister she wanted played at her memorial service.

Inspiration and Giving

I’ve wanted to join a spiritual community for some time, though I wasn’t sure what community exists that I want to be part of. I liked the idea of a commune in Baltimore that grows their own vegetables right in the city, and while I’d prefer to be in the country, I like the conveniences and diversity of city life. But I knew I could not live there because at the time I had my dog, and I suspected that they drink and smoke pot, which in itself is not a problem necessarily, but just not the life I want to live for myself anymore. I’d learned about farms hiring help to live and work the farms, and I liked that idea, but that too would not have been ideal for my dog, nor was it necessarily part of a community to my knowledge. I’ve been to Buddhist meditation meetings, and I like the message and probably have a lot in common with the people, but the particular meeting I like is in a location I don’t care for, and includes about 200 people—too large for me. Church was out of the question because Christianity is weird to me, but then I learned that some of my friends go to a community church that must be okay if they go there. Plus my boyfriend considers himself a Christian though he’s never been a big churchgoer due to the hypocrisy and lack of community he’s felt there. So we decided to try this church where my friends go.

The first thing that happened was an announcement from a woman about a program they’re doing on racial injustice. Then another woman made an announcement about a program for local food pantries. Someone else got up to speak about a book about someone who was wrongfully accused of murder and put on death row, and the book group they’ve formed to discuss it and how to help those who’ve been wrongfully accused. I was on the verge of tears the whole time, and this was before the minister even got up to speak. The reason is because this is precisely the kind of thing my mother would have loved. She too felt uncomfortable with organized religion yet lived a spiritual life of service to others. When the minister got up to speak, he talked of living by example to others. He also pointed out that Christianity is not anti-Judaism. This was exactly the kind of life my mother lived. Mom also felt that you should educate yourself on the issues, vote, and if you could afford it, vote with your pocketbook by buying products that were fair trade and helpful to small business owners. She believed in giving of your time and money (again, if you could afford it) to others in whatever way you could. I lit a candle for her and wrote a prayer for her that I put in the prayer basket. I want to learn more about the projects and programs that this church is involved in and get involved myself. My mother was a true inspiration, and I hope I can live a life that she’d be proud of.