I feel so much resistance to this blank page recently and find every excuse to avoid the work. Perhaps I fear the vulnerability, because I know once I am placed here, whatever is meant to flow from me will come – and sometimes, the truth is hard to acknowledge let alone depict with words. Alas, yet again, I am pulled back here, to all these words.

The window to my right, curtains drawn, brings clouded light onto grey walls. Rather gloomy but I am comfortable with that. If I sit here and do not move… the only sound a light hum from the fan to my left, everything else is still and silent. If my state of being was an anxious one presently, I might find this kind of stillness difficult and not be able to dwell here – there is nothing like a quiet room to make anxious thoughts and feelings grow even louder and more uncomfortable. As it stands, my mind right now settles into this … calm. This room, after all, is where I practice yoga and lay my head to sleep each night – I am grateful to feel immersed in this space with nothing dire looming in my thoughts, without that elephant standing right in the center of my chest. Days without anxiety are wonderful relief, and I welcome what I find here while my breath comes easily. To the work…

Thirty-Five came just a week ago. Another year bestowed unto me to truly live, deeply love, and breathe intentionally; I am thankful. I was surprised so amazingly well by the unannounced arrival of my best friend from Washington a day before my birthday, and she stayed for five days. We had a wonderful party with loved ones and capped “my day” with a swim on a rooftop bar overlooking San Antonio. It was perfect, happy – full of love. I am so grateful to have beside me a thoughtful and loving partner to do that for me.
As my birthday was approaching, I was not so optimistic about the reality of “mid-thirties” but the reason is not of vanity; what I felt and thought about most was my mother. The surreal and stunning nature of realizing I am almost 35, but I clearly remember my own mother when she was 35 – and holy shit times goes fast; another year comes for me, and another year she is further behind. It hits you in times like these. Felt like a benchmark year for some reason, and I could not get her off my mind.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and the Saturday before my birthday comes. I awaken from a dream and I am crying. Truly, deeply crying. For those of you who do not remember your dreams it might not make much sense, but I not only remember my dreams but can often still feel their impact emotionally, sometimes for hours. So when I dream of heavy things, hard things, I have to intentionally and habitually ground myself in God (and oftentimes yoga) or the kids just to get back on an even track. It is, to put it simply, a “thing.” I’ve experienced it since I was a child, my mother did too, so do many of my siblings and all three of my daughters.

What I know of the dream is of great importance to me now. Significant in what it taught me, and the acceptance of it is now held with such depth into my consciousness it is almost as if it were not a dream at all, but an experience. A spiritual one.

I stood over my mother’s bed, as in, in the personhood and body I am today, and I watched her sleeping. I close my eyes now and type this to remember the clunky wooden bedframe, the blanket atop her body, and the way it looked as if… as if… wait… she wasn’t breathing. I stood there and took it in (‘how can I be here…’ tears flowing ‘Mama, oh my God, noooo…’) I reached out my hands and put a palm against her cheeks on either side, and I leaned in and watched it happen.
{As I write this now, I’ve opened my eyes, crying – but I will press forward, because this is what being vulnerable is about – I know it no better than with all these words, even when they hurt me.}
I held her face in that room, standing over that bed and I watched her die. In a small apartment in Vancouver, Washington where I grew up – the town we moved to when I was two, from California where she and my dad – my two older brothers and me were born.  I held her face in a world that suddenly became so small, where a mother lies down to sleep with a bottle and never wakes back up; where a daughter straddles between spirit and matter, waking life and what is real to what can only manifest in dreams, to finally let her go with nothing left but love. As I remained there, holding her in that room, something inside me knew it was safe to feel it all: The anger that she did not fight and this is what it had become. The deep sadness of letting her go when we should not have had to. The loss of her story, the end of her life – never knowing who she might have been; shame for the cause of her death, and guilt that I did not do every single thing I could to help save the one whom gave me life. In this dream, in that moment, I felt things, and processed things, that I have been holding for… years. All while I watched on transcending space and time and logic to be beside her while she died.

I felt so much pain, screaming to God, my mouth was a spotlight and everywhere my voice bellowed out, the light would follow. Emotion from the depths of me, pouring out for her, broken open and overflowing, in total surrender to the truth of it. Then a dramatic shift took hold, my face turned towards the sky –

Silence.

Complete calm.

When my mom died, she in fact was alone. In that bed, in that apartment, in that town. I was at my dad’s house, just about 8 minutes down the street from where she lay. None of us know what it looked like, how she felt, or what it did to the air when her soul left this world. Nonetheless, a drastic shift occurred in our family, and in each one of us, and from that moment forward, the world would never feel the same. I have spent the past thirteen years just absorbing this new reality. Moreover, I have had to try and see my mother’s story absent my own bias, my own emotions, my own reactions – and I just… cannot do it. I am often frustrated by this – it has affected everything I’ve done and felt since, in some form or another, and thankfully time does help ease it, but my mother’s passing – specifically that day itself – never left me. It always haunted me, so to speak, that she was alone.

Tighten your chest now, hold your breath, and close your eyes. That pause right before you breathe again, that stillness – with the most brilliant light surrounding every single thing, warm and comforting. Peace. That is what it felt like in the dream. A dramatic altering of understanding, from searing pain when you really allow yourself to move through it, to a kind of knowledge – that is it, I just… know now.  In that moment, but none before it, I knew. I was sobbing with depth of pain and then suddenly so sure of this thing I’ve prayed to believe for years: She was never alone. Acceptance. The illuminating light of Truth.

Since that Saturday, I’ve found myself often smiling up. Smiling inward also, because something changed in me. Something I did not expect to come this way, at this time, in this manner. Nor did I expect to believe it; had anyone ever told me of revelation which can change you – from your dreams – I would have listened yet not been convinced. That I would even give credence to such a thing, well, foregone conclusion as I am convinced.

There is peace where for so long I only found glimpses…

It has me thinking back now. Smiling at that one day, January 19th 2009 – exactly three years to the day my mom died, when I held my first child in my arms on the day she was born.

Smiling because God has a funny sense of timing and mysterious ways to get our attention. My daughter breathing her first breathe, held in my arms, on the anniversary of the day my mother died alone – one example. Holding my mother’s face in a dream when she died, and realizing it was GOD showing me HE held her – another example. I just had to be open enough to accept it, I had to be ready to believe Him when He promised to love her that much. I had to be strong enough, willing, to move beyond my pain and get to the truth, and God showed me that clearly light overcame the darkness – and His love IS so much bigger than I can understand. That comforts me so much it brings tears to my eyes, because I sure as shit prefer this to living with the pain.

There is so much symmetry here, albeit I did not always appreciate it well. He was trying to show me, even then, that the light was holding her, but I could not see it.

There is light now casting away those shadows, from my brow and from that cold room where last she breathed. If I am strong enough to hold her there, and understand the healing that took place in that moment, for my mother, then I think I’ve learned what I needed to from this dream. Her story here ended, but another one began, and it is mine to write now.

So, with a new kind of understanding, I am acclimating to something foreign in myself: A new language of trust and joyfulness, of faith and light, and I am more aware of myself regarding dealings with my family and friends, because I’ve seen how precious life is, and I know we do not get forever in this realm. From a dream I awakened, with tears streaming from my eyes, having been witness to the most difficult scene in my story thus far, and I have been given the grace to take from that something incredibly positive and fulfilling. Truth that there was great healing in that moment: Hers. My pain only came because I loved her so much, but loving her means I can rejoice even in letting her go.

Thank God for dreams, the architect Himself, for allowing me to explore these things safely. When I see her face, so vivid now as if someone popped in an old VHS and there she is, I am not bogged down by the weight of it anymore. Closing my eyes now, my mouth curled in a slight smile all on its own, and I look for her. Light, her back turned to me… it is peaceful that she is gone, finally. Because I understand that ending was her redemption, and she was never alone.

35 is going to be a damn good year. To dreaming.

Please, I welcome your thoughts, perspective, and new ideas on anything I have written here!

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