Love Never Dies

                                                                                                          

 

My mother’s death on August 12, 2016, followed years of suffering, mostly due to the arthritic discomfort of polymyalgia rheumatica, an inflammatory disease that caused her to have horrific, ongoing muscular pain. This devastating illness was complicated by multiple falls with subsequent fractures of her pelvis and ankle, and pain management only afforded her some modicum of relief.  For me and the rest of the family, to witness the persistent misery she endured was agonizing beyond words.

As her health continued to deteriorate, we did all we could to let her know we loved her. As mentioned in my previous blog post, we discovered that singing old church songs gave her comfort, such as Amazing Grace, It is Well with My Soul, The Old Rugged Cross, How Great Thou Art, among other Christian classics.  Oftentimes, we would sing songs that she requested, but as she gradually became unresponsive, we sang ones we knew she treasured.  On occasion, we would detect a smile on her face, but, towards the end, she gave no indication whatsoever that she heard anything.  Only hours before Mom died, my sister Connie and I belted out a number of these melodies as we sat at her bedside. Such was our way of communicating with our dear mother, and we both believed that somehow she heard these heartfelt renditions.

The funeral service in the days that followed was well attended and lovely, though I knew the healing process would take a long time. I’m not sure, however, that anyone fully recovers from the death of a parent.  I suffered mightily in the beginning, realizing that my world was now topsy-turvy and had been forever changed.  But, with the healing power of time, I learned to live with the vacuum created by my mother’s death, and life went on, simply because I had no other choice. Feeling a personal need to stay in touch, I made it a habit to occasionally talk with Mom and repeatedly tell her how much I loved her.  While I never heard a response to these seemingly one-sided conversations, little did I know that one day the inexplicable would happen, and she would finally answer me in a way that still leaves me shaking my head in amazement.

∞∞∞

Over a year after mom’s death, I was upstairs in my home office when I heard music coming from below.  Knowing my wife Sheridan was outside warming herself in front of our chiminea, I wandered downstairs to see what was up.  Much to my surprise, the television was on and playing old Christian music.  My eyes welled with tears as I first heard The Old Rugged Cross, followed by It is Well with My Soul, and finally, Amazing Grace. My mother loved all of these tunes, and while I had no idea how Sheridan did it, I was certain that she had somehow programmed the television to broadcast them. I was deeply touched, and when Sheridan came in from outside, I thanked her for setting up the television in that way.  She looked confused at my words and said, “I didn’t do anything.”

“What?” I questioned, surprised.

“Gary,” she compassionately repeated, seeing the baffled look on my face, “I didn’t do anything.  When I went outside, the TV was off.  I never turned it on.”

“But . . . how?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she added, shrugging her shoulders.

I felt the blood drain from my face, and I stared at her in stupefaction.

This can’t be, I thought.

I was so stunned by this surreal event that I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone.  How do I explain the impossible?  After all, somehow the television, along with the cable box and pre-amp, came on spontaneously, and besides that, the songs that sequentially played when I happened to arrive at the foot of the stairs were three of my mother’s favorites.

Being a scientist at heart, I felt this had to be a random, serendipitous cosmic event, following the known rules of the Universe.  But what would be the odds of such a happening without some kind of direction?  While putting an exact number on the likelihood of this event occurring fortuitously would be impossible, certainly it was infinitesimally small.

Over the weeks to come, I finally shared this story with my sister, my father, and one of my friends, feeling overwhelmed by the implausibility of this occurrence. I was reluctant to tell others, concerned that they might believe I had finally gone off the deep end, traipsing into the world of insanity, wanting so badly to communicate with my mother that my mind placed tricks on me.  With time and the chance to think deeply about this episode, though, with no small amount of trepidation, I finally decided to share this remarkable story.

∞∞∞

Now, I am reminded of the words of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who once said, “No birth, no death, only transformation.”  In other words, we have always been and always will be, and birth and death are simply events of transition as we move in and out of manifestation on this Earth.  So, with this in mind, I must ask and answer the following questions:

Does my mother still exist?

Unequivocally, yes.

With death, has the love disappeared that my mother and I shared?

Of course not.

Is death a barrier to communication with those we love?

Yes.

Is it possible for this barrier to be breached?

Yes.  After my experience, how could I answer otherwise?

After much consideration, I have come to the unavoidable conclusion that my mother whispered to me from beyond the grave, albeit in a most unique way.  She let me know not only how much she enjoyed hearing these songs in her dying moments, but also that she lives on, and I am most grateful to have both of these understandings confirmed.

So, thank you, Mom, for reaching out to me.  May your story give a measure of comfort to those who have doubt that their loved ones continue to exist.  I am, and always will be, your son, even though we are separated by the chasm of death.

And that’s a wonderful feeling.

I love you, Mom.

6 comments to Love Never Dies

  • Colleen King

    What you have written, I could identify with. I do believe our loved ones never leave us. For a year after my mother passed I cried with every thought of her and feeling some guilt that I had hastened her parting by sending her to the doctor when she couldn’t make sense nor write what she intended. She was stricken with Gleoblastoma. Then one night she came to the foot of my bed in a beautiful blue gown (we buried her in bright pink) I ask her if she liked where she was and she responded “I absolutely love it”. The huge guilt lifted as she left.
    I long for a visit from my sister, the closes to that was a Eastern Phoebe bird that latterly played with me in the yard, dancing and getting very close to me. We have never had Eastern Phoebe’s around here but Connie had them a lot building nests near their home at Lake Eufaula.
    Bill and I sang old hymns with Connie in her final days. And the day she passed my song was Precious Lord Take My Hand, Lead me on help me stand . . . . I’m not sure she heard but believe she did.
    Thanks for a beautiful reminder of your Mother and my dearest friend.

    • Hi Colleen,
      I can’t tell you how moved I am by your note. Such experiences are so personal, they can be hard to share. Certainly my rendition was difficult to put down for others to see. That said, stories such as ours must be shared, so that others can learn and benefit. The soul continues on – what a blessing to know that! Thank you for your bravery. Love, Gary

  • Jordan D.H.

    What a beautiful experience to share. As I read this, there is a overwhelming feeling of comfort to know that I am not alone in knowing that surly the love will never be lost and their may be hope one day, even if for the briefest moment, to feel the presence of their love again. Thank you for sharing such a amazing event.

    • Hi Denice,
      Thank you for your kind words. I truly believe that if you’ve loved someone deeply, you will find each other again. It’s a universal law that cannot be broken. Warm regards, Gary

  • Cousin Suzanne Allen

    Hi Cuz,
    I’m so glad you wrote of this experience. I cried while reading it. I miss my mother and guess I always will. I was with her two months before she died. I stayed with her & brought my computer and played music from the 40s that she loved. She had Alzheimers; but she straightened up & listened attentively. It’s funny though ~ in my dreams I miss her & I think she’s gone to Alaska. It must be my inner child wanting to know where she went and missing her. I have my regrets from not visiting her enough or staying longer. I look forward to seeing her one day when I pass. Your mom most definitely communicated to you …. how wonderful. Love, Cuz

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