Mother’s Death

DoeB&W

1

The week my mother’s body began rapidly declining towards death, a doe and her fawn were frequenting my parents’ land. I saw them several times on restorative walks that I took to feel the comfort of the elements. The doe and her fawn would stop and look at me for a moment that felt eternal, then bound away to a safe distance before turning to look back again, as deer do. I was comforted by their presence. My mother’s face became emaciated and her eyes seemed to grow larger. I always admired her green eyes. I find myself now wishing I had spent more time gazing into those green eyes. Her gaze was a present, sometimes piercing one. In her last days, it had a startled quality, a doe-like look. Her gaze seemed to simultaneously see into me and beyond me. She saw visitors invisible to me and acknowledged them with the wave of her hand or the blink of her eyes. There was a luminescence emanating from her shrinking human form. Her soul and spirit and body were in conflict, torn in different directions. She did not want to leave this beloved human body and life, not just yet.

2

My grief is a richly colored, deeply textured landscape, with mountains that cast tall shadows, that feature treacherous and breathtaking cliffs. With dense forests that extend over rolling hills and through valleys. With winding rivers, salty seas, dark damp caves, sunlit meadows of flowers, muddy bogs and pits of quicksand. I wander through all of it daily, willingly. I don’t want the edges softened for me. I don’t want it made better. I want to experience all of it. I am hungry for the journey. My pain brings insight. I am curious about the depths of my soul. I hold deep gratitude for the love that helps carry me through, that prevents me from getting mired down, from getting too lost for too long. I have been an escort to the threshold and back of both birth and death. I am transformed with new understandings, new appreciations, new awe for the multi-dimensional nature of life and death.

I feel a strong sense of urgency. If I might not be here in this body tomorrow, what am I doing waiting on anything? But then, there are things in life that require my patience and nurturing to grow. How do I know the difference? When to act, when to wait? This liminal space is testing my trust. It is asking me to hold on and to let go at the same time. It is teaching me about the subtleties of separation and loneliness, of solitude and companionship–these may be profound realities of this physical human existence and also tricks of the human mind, for I have felt utterly alone in the midst of company, and yet, I also know that even when I am alone, I am never truly alone.

3

Spreading her ashes,

in my garden,

along wildlife refuge bluff,

under western red cedar,

into softly burbling creek,

I came upon bone fragments.

 

Bone and ash of the body,

bone and ash of her body,

bone and ash of your body, Mother.

bone and ash of your body, Mother

your body that formed my body.

Bone of my bone,

flesh of my flesh,

blood of my blood.

Bone and body that no longer belong, to you,

no longer attached to soul and spirit.

now ash,

now returning.

 

I once asked,

Where do we begin and end?

We are a continuous, circular flow

of beginnings and endings–

with no beginning and never ending.

I wonder now,

How do soul and spirit unhook from the body beloved?

 

A Writer & Her Muse

A Writer & Her Muse

 

You brought me here today,

beneath the flaming autumn leaves of maple trees.

You said, “The time is now.

Tell me everything.”

 

About your first encounter with death–

dead kittens on a wooded path,

mouths agape, bodies lifeless and stiff.

 

Tell me how you doubted the stories strangers told.

How you loved to wander–

a young child in the woods with her father,

searching for signs of deer and fallen antlers.

 

How you were raised by atheists

in a town of Christian zealots, who said Jesus died for your sins–

an inherited debt you did not understand.

 

Tell me how you found god

while making love

in the backseat of a Volvo.

 

How the color blue conjures memories

of Moroccan portals,

of Aziz’s blue eyes.

 

How the sun’s warmth on the nape of your neck

reminds you of lying topless on a Basque beach–

your breasts felt natural, honored–for the first time.

 

Tell me how you have imagined dying.

How it felt like sighing,

like holding hands with your ancestors.

How it sounded like a strong wind through the fir trees.

 

Tell me this is a beginning.

Tell me more. . .

 

 

Forging a new path

I am done writing in the dark. I have stacks of journals, notebooks, computer files, and voice memos overflowing with poems, thoughts, short stories and attempts at essays that have been accumulating since I was initiated into the realm of creative writing at age 14 by one of my high school english lit teachers. Occasionally I share something I have written with a friend. Occasionally I leak bits of things into my social media accounts. I spent a short stint attempting to get my work published. My most memorable rejection letter had a handwritten note on it that read: “Keep writing.” I took that to heart. I have never stopped writing. I don’t think I could–nothing would make sense to me, and life would be unbearable without such self-expression. In the process of dying from cancer, my mother asked me to create a blog for her and her community. The experience of having an outlet to process and communicate what was happening for my mother, for our family, and for myself, was a blessed opportunity. It was an anchor in the stormiest of seas. The value and power of blogging was illuminated for me in a very unique and intimate way.

I have decided I want to own my words in more of a genuine and public way than I have before. I don’t claim to meet any particular standards. I don’t claim to be the creator of all that flows through me.  I am not interested in perfection. I do strive for quality and deep meaning. I am a listener and a creative interpreter. It is in my nature to transform what I experience and observe into some form of art or action, whether it be through writing, glasswork, drawing, ritual-making, painting, teaching, gardening, therapeutic empowerment or community organizing. I offer my writing now through this blog, Everbearing. My voice, my writing, has been longing for a receptive audience for years–not for fame, though perhaps for recognition, and for the opportunity to be read, to be heard, to reach someone in a relevant moment. I am done allowing my inner voices of doubt and fear to reign. I am tearing down the walls that hold me in, one brick at a time. I am done writing in the dark.

Bless the courage to forge new paths. Bless you who are willing to receive my words.

Yours Truly,

Anemone, daughter of the wind and sea, earth and sky