To My Mother

IMG_0970My beloved mother has died, and up to this moment in time, every second I have been alive, she has been in the world. Tears stream from my eyes as the stark realization occurs that she no longer walks the Earth. Never again can I call and ask how she’s doing, no longer can I bring her a bag of palmiers, her favorite cookies, and no more am I able to share my latest happenings with her. She had been ill and had suffered greatly for a number of years, so her death was not unexpected. Yet, I am in a state of disbelief.  How can this be?

The Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “No birth, no death.”  In other words, we have always existed and always will.  Annihilation does not occur at death, only the moving out of manifestation. My Christian friends say death is a time for celebration and joy, since believers enter the heavenly spheres to be with Jesus. Somehow, though, in the present moment, all this spiritual rhetoric rings hollow to me. It is head-centered and not balanced with the heart. The uncomfortable truth is:

Gone is the woman who went through labor for me.

Gone is the woman who changed my diapers, fed and cared for me when I was helpless.

Gone is the woman who rubbed Vicks VapoRub on my chest.

Gone is the woman who wiped tears from my eyes.

Gone is the woman who cried the first time I got on the bus to go to school.

Gone are sacred stories of my life, ones only she knew.

I lie down in my backyard and gaze up at the clear blue, morning sky.  White, wispy clouds hang high, and I watch as Mississippi Kites circle overhead and bumblebees buzz in and out of nearby bright-yellow squash blossoms. A canopy of blackjack oaks surrounds me, and the clean, warm air that brushes against my face is a harbinger for a piercingly-hot Oklahoma day. Everything seems the same, but it’s not. My universe is forever changed.

Now, as I think deeply about it, I am struck by the notion that the best way I can honor my mother is to live my life as fully and graciously as I can, demonstrating the love she so often shared with me.  I, and those she loved, will become her legacy, for in one hundred years or so, it is likely that no one on this Earth will remember her.  But the chain reaction of kind and loving acts that she set in motion will go on forever, and the world will be better for it.

If Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were here, they would sing to my mother:

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then.

Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song, and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.

Bon voyage, my mother, adviser, confidante, wellspring of unconditional love and support. I love you, and I always will.

Happy trails . . .