The last six months have been punctuated with many passages - 16 mothers of friends have transitioned into the world of spirit, as well as my own mother. I am caught breathless at times when the enormity of these losses consumes my soul, and I am still trying to come to grips with the new reality of seeing my and hearing my mother only in my dreams. Thankfully, she's appeared a couple of times - beautiful and happy though the dreams themselves have been rather bizarre - one rather humorous and the other filled with inverted images throughout; for example, a dresser that was suspended upside down from the ceiling in my grandmother's house
I've learned a lot about the acceptance of death from life here on the farm. The cycling of the seasons serves as a constant reminder of life->death->rebirth. There's great joy in watching my flowers emerge after a cold, hard winter. Somehow they muster the strength to return year after year and retain full beauty despite the unpredictability of the weather. When they have withered after producing glorious blooms, I hate to see them leave; I miss them and eagerly anticipate their return the next growing season.
Likewise, in the nearly 40 years I've lived here, I've buried many a pet....Tornado, Gunner, Annie, Molly, dozens of cats, chickens and ducks, guinea pigs, hamsters, lizards, and several fish. Some of my most vivid memories involve listening to Samuel and Eliza say a sweet, tender good-bye to their beloved animals after we had gone through the ritual of digging their graves together. Just as watching Mama Cat give birth was a monumental occasion for us all, so was the burial of each furry friend. I would agree with psychologists that having children celebrate the beginning through the end with their pets offers an invaluable experience and explanation about the life cycle which assists their understanding when the loss inevitably involves a person they love.
Another thing I've noticed during this incredible time of transition centers around the way one grieves. The only constant I observe is that each individual defines his/her own grieving process, and that process is different with each passage involved. When my father died, I was greatly consoled by having pictures of him all around me. I felt close to him that way; I could see him in a healthy body and remember him as agile rather than fragile, as active rather than ravaged by Parkinson's Disease. I can still see him in photos and sense his sweet presence.
With Mom's passage, I anticipated photos of her all throughout the house would equally console me; however, that has not been the case. I long for her sorely when I see the photos. I can't get a grasp of the reality of her being gone. I want to pick up the phone and hear her voice. I'm still very raw. I miss her so! Therefore, I have had to put most photos of her in storage for now. I have the last one taken of her and me on my desk, but other than that one, I'll wait a while before I put out more.
As much as I don't like the catchphrase "the new normal," I do realize I am attempting to find a way to define my mom's presence in a new way in my life. I hear her voice; I talk to her in my mind; I tell myself what I know she would tell me; and I beseech her to come to me in my dreams.
Norm Sartorius read the following poem at Diane's mother's funeral, and the words and simple thoughts have brought me great consolation. I hear Petie's voice as I read the lines, and they help me along the way each day.
Death is Nothing at All
by Henry Scott Holland
Death is nothing at all…
I have only slipped away in the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way you always used.
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
At all the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, Smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort,
Without the ghost of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever was;
There is absolutely unbroken continuity….
Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval,
Somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well.