Today marks 10 years since Mom transitioned. I can remember when I was 29 a healer had said to me that the year coming was going to be one of the best years of my life. One month after my 30th birthday we were faced with the devastation end stage cancer brings. Looking back now, the lady was right, it was not because it was going to be such a joyful year, but rather because it was going to teach me so much…
In so many ways, moms journey shaped so much of who I am today. 10 years ago today I had decided I would no longer be a nurse. I thought my purpose had been accomplished. On more than one occasion mom expressed her gratitude in my ability to navigate her through our system and that without my help she would have felt completely overwhelmed.
There are so many peak moments that were so pivotal to me. I would like to share a couple. There is nothing that evoked more compassion in me than watching mom journey through cancer. I sat at moms feet holding her as she wept at the wig shop the day they shaved what remained of her hair. Seeing her completely powerless and yet with such strength in vulnerability, that moment brought me a gift of complete unconditional love and surrender to a power larger than myself. I can remember walking into her bathroom one day close to the end of her life when I could hear the sobs pouring from her soul. I remember seeing her sitting in the bathtub, looking at her skin and bones fragile body, rocking from the enormous pain and gently helping her to her feet out of the tub. Cancer is a beast and it doesn’t care who it takes as a hostage. But it never took her spirit, as much as she suffered.
Those of you who have experienced this know exactly these moments I’m talking about. But seeing mom in those deepest moments in life is what shaped me in such an enormous way. That journey with mom taught me deep compassion and the true ability to hold space for others, completely unconditionally. It taught me that we choose our mindset with the unfortunate circumstances life sometimes presents. That journey and every journey we go through holds the potential for so much growth — should we be open to allow it. It taught me that healing didn’t always equate with a cure.
I could not have imagined that 10 years later I’d still be nursing, and taking special interest in end of life care. That’s where I excel as a nurse. It’s where I find my only passion anymore in nursing. I get to watch the absolute highs and lows of humanity and experience every emotion. After all that is what our human existence is about… experiencing the highs and the lows and everything in between.
Heart Opening Experiences
If you have been with someone at their bedside when they pass, you know that it is an incredible, heart opening experience. The day mom passed I experienced such a sense of relief and joy that she was no longer in pain and finally Home and devastated because I no longer had my mom in the physical sense. She was one of my best friends. She had helped me with Gabriel enormously as a very young mom and later loved my beautiful little girls more than anything in this world. Every milestone that passes I feel that familiar ache that her physical presence is no longer around me. Yet— I feel her and know she is near so often. She’s there in my kitchen which she helped lovingly design, she’s there in my lowest moments when I cry out for her with a sudden phone call from a close friend, or in a rose bush in the garden, or in the butterfly ? I see flying. She’s there in a seemingly random comment from a friend or loved one and I can hear her voice saying “go for it girl”!
It’s an illusion that death seems to take something from us left behind. But, in reality when we step back we can see how much we gained through the experience and there is no separation. Mom remains there in both my ups and my downs. What I wouldn’t give to have a coffee with her from time to time but blessings are abundant in the wake of her parting. Death didn’t take anything other than her body. Her spirit lives so strong in her legacy, her children, and in those who knew her best. She was an incredible woman of fierce strength and tight hugs. She was tough but soft when she needed to be. She knew perseverance in some of life’s most difficult circumstances. She inspired many with her faith. She inspired me to always reach higher, and to focus on what I have instead of what I don’t. She gave me the biggest gift of all in encouraging me to approach things from my heart and from my intuition opening me to experiences I could never have imagined. She was everything a mom should be — and continues to be — even now. She gave me roots in living, and in dying taught me how to fly.