The morning of my mother’s funeral I felt the brewing of many different emotions. I knew I wanted to be as functional as possible and made two important decisions. As I sat with my morning tea looking out at my garden, I chose to consciously focus on my feeling of gratitude that she had been my mother, that I had her influence for this lifetime. I began to feel OK.

The next decision I made was to feel satisfied with the totality of my life with her. It was at that moment, when I allowed satisfaction to fill me rather than focus on feelings of loss, regret, or longing, that’s when I felt solid ground move in under my feet.

It’s not anything I planned on doing to get through, it’s not like there’s a course out there on how to make the most out of your parent’s funeral experience. It just occurred to me, like an inspiration, that I had a choice about what to focus on that morning so that it would be possible to get through the duties, the social aspect of the event, just the occasion of the day itself- my mother’s funeral.

I wasn’t at home in Toronto with her when she died. Early August I’d come across an incredible opportunity to affordably go on my first cruise, which happened to be in the Mediterranean and coinciding with my birthday, and which also allowed me a chance to investigate cruise options for future retreats.

My mom was in stable condition when I decided to go, and she gave me her blessing by offering me some extra Euros she had tucked away in her passport, left over from her skiing trip in the Italian Dolomites 6 months before.

The doctor assured me before I flew to Rome that she had many weeks of life ahead of her. I told him plainly that although that was great news, she’d be deciding when she was leaving this world. If you knew my mom, you’d understand my point.

I consciously said goodbye when I left for my trip, knowing that regardless of what the doctor believed, it could well be the last time I saw her. My mother, Dad and I just had enough time to enjoy the chocolate birthday cake friends had brought over the night before in an early celebration. My mother asked for a glass of milk as she dug in with enthusiasm. Sharing my birthday cake with her as our last meal together became a poignant memory for me in the days that followed.

In late spring of this year she decided to try an alternative aggressive chemo to ensure, in as much as you can ensure anything with cancer, that she’d be around for her only grandchild’s visit for the last three weeks of summer.

On the Saturday of Labour Day weekend I left for Rome. On Monday night she was taken to Emergency with breathing trouble. After spending the morning with her on Tuesday, her 7 year old grandson, Emil, left to go straight to the airport to return home. After that my mom’s condition deteriorated shockingly fast, to all the doctor’s surprise, and she died 5 hours later.

Fortunately my sister made the judgment call early enough that I needed to be found and notified. As a result of the wrong contact information I’d mistakenly left behind, it was with great efforts made by my friends and sister in law that I was located on the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship which was at sea. We were a large group in the dining room waiting on dessert when I was whisked away by a ship officer with an urgent message to phone my sister on her cell. It was a call that I’d been bracing for over the last 5 years each time I left Toronto to facilitate a retreat, especially stressful when I was on extended leave each winter in Bali.

Although my mom was beyond speaking, my sister assured me she could hear my words as I spoke my gratitude to my mother into the phone that was held to her ear. And as my family quietly sat close around her head, held her hands and stroked her hair, she took her last breath and left this world with a slight smile on her lips. This was forty five minutes after I spoke to her.

No one knew she would go that quickly- they told me on the phone it would be within the next day or less. I sat on my balcony looking over the black humid Mediterranean Sea and stars, and joined the vigil with my family by opening myself up completely to the mystery of our energetic connection, to the psychic wisdom that spans time and space.

At some point I heard my mother call my name. The only reason I know this happened with certainty was it was her voice, clear as day, and she called me by an abbreviated version she only used of my nickname ‘Pixie’. That’s how I knew, that’s how she let me know it was her. What I heard her say was “Pix”. Although it would take till the following evening to get the phone call to confirm that she’d passed on, I knew at that moment that she was gone and I was so happy to have been able to hear her say good bye in her own way.

Like my mom, I’m a planner. I live by intention and exercise my will when I choose to and it was my full expectation this summer to manage to be with her when she passed. That’s why the doctor’s reassurance beforehand calmed me down about leaving. So, in a world where there are belief systems that claim that everything that happens is exactly the right thing, I was confused and unhappy. First of all- what the hell I was doing on a cruise ship, at sea, so far away from home? And second- why had I failed to manifest being with her when she passed. How could any of this scenario possibly be the exact right thing for me?!

It took some time until I allowed myself the perspective that I had an unusual opportunity to be with her in a way that was more appropriate to my recent spiritual development. I could experience connecting to her energetically without all the distraction and intense stress of the hospital room, the machines, the staff, and witnessing her failing body. I had the extraordinary opportunity to experience her free in spirit, no longer confined or in pain. I had a chance to have my last memory of her eating chocolate cake.


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