My mother passed away a year ago today October 7, 2017. “Passed Away” is a common term used when someone dies. There doesn’t seem to be a definition for who or what is passing away. This is my account of witnessing the passing away.
My mother was 92 when she “passed” and had been in failing health for a few months but mentally still sharp as a tack. She was a strong woman with a strong personality and since I inherited some of those qualities we would clash occasionally. Not enough to strain our relationship but enough that we respected each other’s views when we disagreed.
She was in Hospice for the last few days. There are many things I remember of those days but what remains in my mind is witnessing her personality slipping away the last three days when she stayed in bed, slept most of the day and then stopped responding to us. During that slipping away aspects of her personality began to leave until there was nothing left except her lying empty in bed in silence. My memories of any personality clashes of the past were also passing away and now a year later I cannot find them at all. However, there are many vivid happy memories that will always remain.
While witnessing this gradual removal of the mask of the personality it became clear that we will all have a mask to leave behind. When the mask is gone the naked newborn we once were reappears again empty of any ideas, habits, behaviors or perceptions picked up along the way.
No matter what your beliefs of life after death, I believe I witnessed the mask of her personality pass away leaving a clean slate ready to do whatever it is we do next. This has made me more aware of how the outward personality is only a mask and what hides behind it is what is real. I am grateful and consider this experience her last gift to me.
I walked a large outside labyrinth this weekend. I had never walked an outside labyrinth nor one this large. I was the only one walking so I walked a moderate pace and it took 45 minutes. It was in an open field with a narrow uneven mowed down path in grass and wildflowers that were knee-high. At the beginning I was thinking of the history of the labyrinth dating back to 4500 BC showing up in every culture around the world and the mystery of it all.
Then I started thinking about the correct “procedure” of walking the labyrinth, was I walking too fast, too slow, this is walking meditation, I need to stop thinking so much, how much longer until I reach the center? All the same things that happen during regular meditation. After about ten minutes this mental activity slowed down and I began to notice how many crickets there were on the path, and butterflies and all the different kinds of flowers.
Then I became interested in my destination and started looking ahead trying to see the center but I couldn’t tell where it was because of the tall grass. I could only see about four feet in front of me…I couldn’t look ahead.. all I could do was follow the path because I knew it would lead to the center eventually. When I got to the center I thought maybe there would be something there to symbolize the end of the journey, even just a candle or something….there was nothing. I stood there for a moment but didn’t have the desire to stay for any long length of time contemplating so I headed out on the same path out of the center.
I noticed that the walk out of the center was a little faster pace and easier for some reason. I hadn’t noticed earlier that the walk into the center seemed harder and longer but now noticed that walking in the uneven terrain was much easier. I stopped and looked back at the center a couple of times but again I couldn’t see it when I looked back. Then all of a sudden the path opened up and I was done. That was definitely meditation in motion…..
I always think of the women who are not mothers on Mother’s Day. I was not a mother until I was 41 years old so I spent many a Mother’s Day helping others celebrate their motherhood.
Not having children didn’t bother me in my 20s, no need to hurry although some of my friends were beginning to join the motherhood group. In my late 30s I began to realize that I may go through my life without children. I was once told that having children was a blessing and not having children was to live by grace. I didn’t understand that at the time and thought it was an attempt to make me feel better about my perceived lack caused by not being a mother.
Having experienced both being a mother and many years not being a mother, I can say that motherhood may be a more direct path to realizing unconditional love. I was always searching for unconditional love and thought I’d experienced it a few times but now it’s evident that I didn’t have to search for it, it was given to me. Whether you are a mother or not, unconditional love is a gift. You don’t need to search for it because it’s magically there at any time…..waiting to be accepted as a gift.