62. BECOMING THE MATRIARCH

Excerpt from “My Lovedance”

In January, I realized Mom was dying.

In July, she died in my arms.

The first half of 2015 forged my soul in the most transformative fire.

The second half tested my spiritual steel through the flames of change.

Karmic hell broke loose when Mom passed through the veils of heaven.

All of our husbands immediately faced a major health hurdle.

One is still fighting for his life.

Our father had emergency brain surgery.

All nine grandchildren had to grow up fast.

For the first time my sisters and I turned to each other for spiritual support.

There was no one else who truly understood our pain.

The moment Mom took her last breath, I became the matriarch of the family.

I should have known this was coming. I was warned just two months before.

On the Big Island of Hawaii on the Day of the Dead 2014, I dreamt of Nana.

A lava petroglyph wall towers before me. I float up the wall and go through it into a doorway which leads to a light room – the kitchen from my infancy.

My deceased aunt greets me fussing around a pink Formica table where Nana sits. Nana is the queen bee. My aunt says they cannot make much here. I tell them not to worry, I will get them whatever they need and they can make whatever they want.

Nana shows me that they are limited in their heavenly experience to what they chose to experience in life on earth. She is surprised I am there, yet also expected me. I hug her and she feels so real. I wonder why she appears as I remember her in her fifties and not as a young woman. She shows me that her afterlife appearance is that of her at the prime of her power in the life I knew her.

Nana places a shawl over my shoulders. It’s the matriarchal mantle. I wonder how with Mom still here.

Nana kisses my forehead and whispers “It’s your turn to lead”…

Hawaii, 2014

Every November I set my intentions for the next business year. I would gather all the numbers from Mom who ran all three of my corporations – Full Circle Family Health, Genesis Health Products, and my charity Divine Daughters Unite. She would remind me that the holidays were traditionally slow. But after returning from Hawaii, I took the bull by the horns and tried to figure out why I wasn’t more successful.

Granted I had a successful marriage, beautiful healthy children, great relationships with my parents, my siblings, my friends and there was always just enough to meet our needs, yet…I had planned to be able to retire with my husband. And there was never enough to save for that future.

I meditated on why money did not flow with ease… And I heard loud and clear.

“It’s me. I’m blocking the flow!”

I fell asleep that night asking to be shown how to get out of my own way.

The next morning three emails landed in my inbox.

The first was a digital course on how to use YouTube to increase your business.

The second was an invitation to join a mastermind for integrative health practitioners who wanted to increase their cash flow.

These third was a webinar on how to release blockages regarding wealth, health, and relationships.
I signed up for all three.

I got my one and only video up and optimized on YouTube and forgot about it.

The mastermind for integrative health practitioners started in January. Once Mom got sick, I realized wouldn’t be able to implement what I was learning. Trying to get vital financial information from my high, hypoxic mother was difficult. Thank goodness, Steve was retired. He helped me take care of Mom while I tried desperately to save my businesses.

The leader of the mastermind took pity on me and offered to help me figure out my business finances. Thank goodness!

But it was releasing the money block that allowed me to thrive during this crisis.

I was reminded during that webinar about the crucial brain wave states of childhood. From two to six years old we are in a theta brain wave state. The same brain waves as meditation and hypnosis. Highly suggestible. We are imprinted at a very young age and function from these limiting subconscious beliefs.

So I did a regression on myself. I got into a theta wave state by meditating with the intention to “see” myself at the age of two. And I was transported to the backseat of a 1958 sedan, sitting between my godmother and my twin baby sisters’ car bed. Mommy and Daddy were in the front seat. We were driving to California and in the pit of my tummy, I could feel a pulling sensation as if I was being torn away from my Nana back in Philadelphia.

The next scene, I’m in a toddler bed in the hallway of our new apartment in Burbank, sucking my thumb. I feel all alone and scared that there is no Nana here. And realize that I have to be the Nana now.

Disturbed by the emotion of this regression, I bring myself back. What did that have to do with my money block? I shared my vision with Mom and she confirmed it all, down to my bed in the hall since there was no room for me in the one bedroom with their double bed and the two cribs.

Before going to sleep that night, I wrote on a slip of paper: Show me what my regression had to do with money.

And I have a dream.

I’m back in the backseat of the old sedan. This time I’m an adult holding my two-year-old niece in my lap. Her mother hands her a churro. Before the baby starts to put the sticky treat in her mouth, I peel back the paper…it’s wrapped in dollar bills!

“No, baby, money’s dirty!”

And I wake up shaking from head to toe. I told Mom the dream and she said “Oh, no, money’s dirty, Nana said that to you all the time!”

That was my subconscious limiting belief!

No wonder I had trouble handling money, never kept cash on me, let Steve handle the household bills, and Mom handle the business finances. Money’s dirty!

Plus in my mother’s family, money really was dirty. Poppop was a bookie for the mafia. So much energy of dirty money.

So just before the holidays, I spent time reprogramming myself. I would get into a theta brain wave meditating with theta music. Then I would repeat this mantra over and over:

“Money’s good. Money is power. Power is good.”

Why power?

Because I truly believe that what we’re really afraid of is our power, so we either misuse it or deny it.

Time to heal my money/power wound.

Thank goodness! For just a few short weeks later, I had to face my biggest fear. Handling all the money by myself. And I did it.

In fact, in spite of taking so much time off to take care of Mom, doing virtually no online marketing, having to hire new staff, new accountants, new bookkeepers, investing in new software to become more automated, in spite of all my fears, my businesses did better in 2015 than any other year previously.
The financial advice helped me take the reins of my business.

My video on YouTube did the advertising for me.

Yet it was the release of my subconscious limiting belief about money that opened me up to receive abundance.

What are subconscious limiting beliefs are keeping you from being your best self?

60. SISTER-BOND

Excerpt from “My Lovedance”

AUGUST 13TH

Just returned from the arms of my adopted grandmother. First time I’ve been held since Momma passed. The business of death has occupied my mind. My responsibilities to my patients have occupied my time. More family health dramas have occupied my heart. There is little room for grieving.

As I sit waiting for my beloved to recover from surgery, I ponder the words of my wise friend. “In the wake of your mother’s death, your spousal concerns shall bring you closer together.”

Then I hear the wedding vows we each made…

“In sickness and in health. For richer or for poorer. Till death do us part…Or in the case of my marriage to Steve – until the end of time…

And I think how these same vows were made before birth. To our sisters. We may disagree, yet never fall out of love. We may move thousands of miles apart, yet our bonds are never broken. We may dance to different drummers, yet forever appreciate our uniqueness. Through sickness and in health. For richer or for poorer. Till death do us part. Our sisters, both blood and soul, have always been there, will always be there.

All our drama over the years becomes refined into blessed life lessons. Every one experienced differently, yet lessons all the same. Some grow right away, some take the course again and again, until each of us are a more refined version of ourselves.

Sisters never fail you. They rejoice with you. They grieve with you. They tell you the awful truth and love you even when you are not ready to receive it. They wait for you to figure out life and delight in your growth. They pray for you. They believe in you.

And when you’ve fallen to your greatest depths of despair, they are there to pick you up, brush you off, help you put on your big girl panties, fix your makeup, and face the world.

Momma always wished she had sisters. It broke her heart when we didn’t get along. It brought her so much joy when we embraced each other. We thought Mom was the bridge between us, yet her death has shown us that she stitched us together so tightly that our hearts beat as one.

I love you, dear sisters, more than you know.

59. DANCING WITH DEATH – July 22nd – Aug 6th

Excerpt from “My Lovedance”

JULY 22nd
I arrived in Houston Friday night under a crescent moon just like when I was born. Mom birthed me into this world and now I was there to help birth her into the spirit world.

I am Mom’s doula…holding vigil as she dies. I’ve dreamt it. Me, Jarys, Kyra forming the triad necessary to hold open the portal.

I’ve been dreaming of Mom a lot, mostly me taking care of her and she’s a little girl, sometimes a baby. A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream that she looked like one of those troll dolls I used to play with when I was a kid. You know the kind – stick up hair, small carved face, pot belly and impossibly big feet.
When I saw her the first time I came to Houston, gosh, that was just a week ago, Mom looked just like she did in my dream. The edema made her feet look impossibly big; the cancer swelled her belly to the size of an eight month pregnancy and consumed the rest of her flesh so her upper body was tiny and her teeth seemed too big for her face. To complete the image, my sister had colored her hair the same reddish brown I saw in my dreams and it was sticking straight up.

Saturday Mom rallied. She woke up hungry after her big dose of bedtime cannabis. She had a dip egg and toast, some watermelon and then a nap. I fed her three times, got her up to the bedside commode, but her kidneys were shutting down. It’d be soon.

My sister and her husband left for their anniversary trip to Italy. Mom asked for a malocchio from the motherland. She won’t be here when they get back.

My sister had been holding off giving Mom opiates, using the cannabis for the pain, trying to keep her lucid for me and the twins. As soon as they got to the airport, the pain became so intense I had to start the opiates. The first dose knocked her out for twelve hours. So far out, I had to give her oxygen to keep her lucid for my other sister to arrive. And hopefully for my children. They were due to arrive on Monday.

She waited for my sister to leave to begin the process of dying. She waited for me to midwife her death.

Sunday morning I got Mom up for the last time to the commode but for naught. Her kidneys had shut down. But with the help of my nephew’s fiancé, I gave my Mom a spit bath on the commode. Gotta meet death looking your best.

Dying is very much like giving birth. There’s the burst of energy, then the labor begins. For Mom birthing us was difficult. Dying wasn’t easy. The labor began on Sunday.

So I created an altar for Mom. One devoted to her peaceful release. She’s blessed to be here, to have her daughters and grandchildren rally around her. This process of dying is hard on those unused to witnessing the end. I’ve done it many times. As a nurse, my daughter is used to it too. My youngest sister witnessed the demise of both of her in laws. And it was quite traumatic hospital experiences. As much as I hoped Mom would come home to California so I could help her through this portal, I believe she came here as a gift for my sister and her boys. To witness a peaceful passing filled with love.

Mom’s hospital bed was placed near big bright windows where she could look out at my sister’s beautiful pool and fountains, see the kids swim and play. We congregated in the great room with Mom. Singing to her, massaging her limbs, kissing her cheeks, bugging her I’m sure, but heck, it’s our Italian way to love you to death.

After I anointed Mom then did some energy work to help her release her form, she seemed to leave her body. There would periods of peaceful sleep, then she would be slammed back into her painful dying body. She would thrash about restlessly and moan in agony.

I had to begin the drugs given to us by hospice to relieve her pain, trying to give her the least amount possible to keep her comfortable but lucid for when my other sister arrived.

A few hours after I did the release work, both my husband at home and my sister in Italy texted me: Did Mom pass yet?

When I replied: No, she’s still with us, they were surprised. They both felt like she was with them. So Mom really was out of her body that day, perusing the ethers.

I read her “Death as a Birth” from LoveDance® – the chapter in which Yeshua helps Mary’s grandmother die. When I wrote it eleven years ago, I was more like Mary very much attached to the form, but now I feel more like Yeshua, knowing that this body does not contain us.

“Love is eternal and since each of us is Love, then we are also eternal. Not the body. No, the body will die. But who I am as Love can never die. I have always been Love and so have you.”

Yeshua begins by teaching the children how death is a birth into the spirit world. And the chapter ends with the children celebrating their great-grandmother’s death with a birthday party.

When my sister finally arrived that night, Mom seemed to recognize her then really perked up when my sister played an audio of the great-grandchildren singing: “Happy Birthday to Grandma Honey.” I guess she was listening.

Monday was the hardest day. My kids missed their connecting flight and didn’t arrive until after midnight. It was all we could do to keep Mom with us. When they got off the plane, I had Jarys call to keep her going. He ran through the airport singing “Ah Maria” the same Louis Prima song my grandfather sang to Mom when she was little.
As soon as they arrived, my daughter quietly stepped in, explaining to her sibling what was going on, her aunt and cousin listening intently. I felt such a great relief to share the medical aspect of death with Kyra. Finally, I could be with my mother as her daughter.

Kyra decided we should make a giant bed to be closer to Grandma Honey. So the boys pulled the ottoman, love seat and chair up against the bed to create a playpen. My children and I climbed in with her. Our intimacy with death, frightened my sister and nephew, but in the end they joined us.

Mom’s transition was actually quite beautiful. My daughter and I laid on each side of her, holding her in our arms while my son prayed and sang “Ah, Maria”. I witnessed her last breath, heard her last heartbeat. Her soul just floated peacefully out.

On July 21st at 3:33 am PST, Maria Anna Diodato returned to the spirit world.

I called my sister in Italy. She cried and told me that while she planned to get the malocchio on Mary Magdalen’s feast day on the 22nd, Mom had come to her and said “you’d better get it now”. I called her five minutes after she purchased the malocchio.
The business of death took over the rest of the day. I handled hospice, the Neptune Society, called all the relatives on the East and the West Coast and stayed up when the rest of the family passed out from exhaustion to talk to a couple of patients. Mom never got the chance to use her bell to keep me on schedule like she used to in the office.

After hospice left, we let the dog back in the house. My sister’s chocolate lab had held vigil with me the entire time. She laid by Mom’s bed day and night. She came in wagging her tail, went to her toy basket, and then to Mom’s bed, where she gently placed her purple ball, then walked quietly away. A gift for the afterlife.

By the end of the day, after holding it together to deal with everyone else’s grief, I fell into a dreamless sleep. We spent the next couple of days sharing Grandma Honey stories, eating her favorite foods. I changed my flight to leave early with the kids knowing I could not truly grieve until I was home in Steve’s arms.

When I arrived in Ojai, Mom’s energy greeted me. She’s permeated every aspect of the office. I can hear her footsteps coming down the hall as she calls for me. I laid on the lounge under the oak tree where she spent time recovering from her hospitalization.

There’s a Native American saying: “The soul would have no rainbows, if the eyes had no tears.”

My soul is very colorful right now.

I am blessed to have been able to share my home, my life, my children, my dreams with Mom. She helped me accomplish my vision of an integrative health practice and then ran all three of my businesses for eighteen years. She helped me found Divine Daughters Unite, a nonprofit organization that empowers young women through charitable works. She was the eldest board member.

Since Mom passed, there’s been an empty space behind me. She liked to come up behind me, wrap her arms around me and kiss my neck. I shared this with my sister in Italy. A few minutes later, Kyra said her aunt texted her that I needed a “Grandma hug” and gave me one. So sweet, yet it’s always been Mom who had my back.

Still she must be busy. We’ve been trying to get a business credit line for the last four years. This past month, I’ve been getting lots of offers for funding in the mail, some with deadlines due soon. So before I left for Houston, I connected with Mom and intuitively chose one, applied over the phone, and forgot about it.

The day after she died, I got a call. It was from the bank. “Congratulations, you got the credit line!”

I cried, “Thank you, Mom.”
The bank rep was confused, “My name is Todd.”

“I’m thanking my mother, Todd. She’s pulling some strings in heaven as we speak!”

It’s surreal living without her.

I’m not sure how to be a motherless daughter.

I know she’s with me in spirit, but I sure miss her hugs.

Thank you, Mom, for dancing with me all of my life and now in spirit form.

AUGUST 6TH

Where is Mom but within me?
I feel her when I think of my sisters and how hard they are trying in their own lives. About their soul lessons and wishing them the best of luck and enlightenment. It’s strange. Losing mother yet gaining her as an aspect of self.

I had a dream that illustrates my view of the circle of life and death.

I am on a great stage with all my family, my sisters, my children, my friends, my patients. Everyone I know and love are there on stage with me acting out their parts in this play called Life. And there is a thick, thick curtain separating the backstage from the front. Most of the other actors in the play do not seem to know what’s backstage or who’s directing us. I know Mom is backstage, with all my dead loved ones, preparing me, guiding me. I know where the curtain parts and slip between to be with her. And I can also see from the director’s view – this great play, both on stage and backstage – everything connected. I feel comforted by this connectedness and wake up smiling.

For Mom, the pain and the joy could not be mixed. Family and friends were her joy. Cancer sucks. Like all dis-ease, I believe it is symbolic of buried emotions hiding deep soul issues. During the last months of Mom’s life, she released a lot of pent up painful emotions. While she was with me, I tried to escort her to those dark places to release the karmic suffering that inevitably gets passed on to your children and grandchildren.

My journey with Mom. So much insight. So much spiritual healing. As much as she could, Mom allowed me to disentangle the family cords that bind us in guilt, shame, disappointment and fear. This spiritual work was a great part of our work together for the past 13 years. It wasn’t just healing others, it was healing ourselves.

Through this heart-wrenching journey with Mom, I was set free and now so are my children. She is so very present for me, more so than when she was alive. Since I was a tiny child, I could sense her emotions, her pain, her fear. I could call her to me when we were miles apart, just like I did with Nana. I was so fortunate that she was open enough to respond. So many stories, most have no idea how gifted Mom was and is.

On the blue moon, just ten days after her death, she showed me in a meditation that fear (in all its forms -guilt, shame, anger, disappointment) is like a thick bank of fog that is so very difficult for her to penetrate. She comes easily to me (rather through me as it feels like she is part of me now) because I released my fear.

Oh yes, I had guilt about not being able to save her. My first dream of her after she died was a guilt dream. Since then she has come through me sharing precious wisdom, like my left breast pain which used to be her “boob alert” – meaning something was wrong in the family- I have it now. She told me it’s my sense of responsibility for everyone and to LET IT GO! I’m working on it.

We grieve what we’ve lost, what will never be. Yet life goes on or rather Love. Love goes on.

Mom was Love pure and simple. I feel her in me…the way she loved me, my sisters, my nieces and nephews, even my husband who she loved like a son. The quality of my feelings towards my family, especially my sisters, have shifted since she died. I truly Feel Her. I Feel the Way She Feels about them. It’s rather amazing. I have more maternal compassion than ever before. I even see myself with new eyes – her eyes!

So let’s release our fear and remember her laughter, her wisdom, her joy.

That is how our loved ones can be with us, when we’re happy!

59. DANCING WITH DEATH – July 13th.

Excerpt from “My Lovedance”

Mom, Kyra and me, Mother’s Day, 2008

At this point I truly wished I felt more confident about this path I’m on with Mom. It was easier when she was here. I could take her pulse and reassure myself that all was well.

She’s been gone two weeks and I haven’t heard from her. She’s in transition from my care to theirs, but since we began working together at Full Circle Family Health, not a week had passed that I hadn’t heard Mom’s voice, received a text, an email, a Facebook post – something.

Guess I’m being prepared for the inevitable. It’s easy to talk. The walk is much, much harder.

One sunny afternoon in late March we were out in the courtyard, enjoying family, food, and music, so I invited Mom to dance. She has always been an amazing dancer. She even danced on American Bandstand in the fifties. Some of my earliest memories are dancing in the living room with my mother, my baby sisters doing their best to keep up.

Fifty years later, I held my mother in my arms and we danced. Even through a wave of nausea that day, she kept dancing. Not even cancer could keep her from feeling the music. Mom’s the one who taught me that life is a dance. And I now see that the dance never really ends.

JULY 13th
The time has come to say goodbye. Mom is near the end. Like a shooting star whose light is ever so bright, Mom burnt through our lives and our hearts.

Helping her pack in April for her trip to visit my sisters, I found a box shoved under the guest bed. In the poor light, I thought it read “Maria’s Dude Box”. Mom laughed, “that’s my dead box!”

In 2005, Mom joined the Neptune Society. Thank goodness she opted for the travel plan, since she became a gypsy in her last few months.

After a month in Utah, Mom finally landed in Texas. She will take her final breath in my youngest sister’s beautiful home. After setting up in-home hospice, I write this on the plane from Houston, coming back to mail out Mom’s box. Then I’ll return to help release her so she can pass in peace.

The first few weeks after she left, we had no contact. I missed her terribly. She did not answer my calls releasing me perhaps. So I spent my time searching the Internet for clips of her dancing on American Bandstand. And I found her.

In 2002 I was invited as endocrine advisor for Great Smokies Labs (now known as Genova) to review a new cell metabolism test. Everyone else brought their spouses to the lavish dinner aboard the Queen Mary. I brought Mom.

The CEO asked me to help the group of West Coast doctors understand how the new test could be used in our clinical practice. While I was in the midst of my explanation, the CEO could not keep his eyes off Mom. Suddenly, he pointed at her and exclaimed.

“You’re Maria from American Bandstand! I rushed home every day after school to watch you dance!”

I searched through several Bandstand clips before I saw my mom’s signature dance move. I replayed it over and over. Yep! That’s my Mom! Steve thought so too, but just to be sure, I showed it to Mom.

Sitting on my sister’s couch next to Mom, we watched the clip. She immediately started naming the dancers including her cousin and friend. And of course, herself. Watching my sister’s face the moment she recognized Mom was precious.

Mom told me that my grandparents didn’t approve of her going to North Philly. It was rough. After school, they took a bus from South Philly, then a monorail train, and waited with the “regs” at Pops soda shop to be called on stage. Mom said the “good dancers” always got called with the “regs” (the regular bandstand dancers). Of course, she always got called.

She acts like it was nothing. “I was embarrassed when that CEO recognized me. He became a doctor and my claim to fame is a dancer on American Bandstand!”

Not your only claim to fame, Mom. No, there are thousands of Full Circle Family Health patients who will never forget how you made them feel like family. There are hundreds of people who you served and cared for in your community. There are dozens of young women you taught as a Girl Scout leader. There are nine grandchildren, two great grandchildren, three grand son-in-laws, one granddaughter-in-law to be, three son-in-laws, and three other daughters who you loved and mothered fiercely, passionately, thoroughly.

And there’s me, your eldest daughter. I could have never become the nurse practitioner, the mother, the wife, the friend, the woman I am without you teaching me how to dance through all of life’s transitions.
Especially this, our last dance on earth.

It’s hard to let your loved one go. My youngest sister an RN was quite capable of starting hospice. She just needed permission. She needed me to say it’s time. The twins, still struggling in denial of the fact that our mother is dying, were encouraging her to do more. But neither of us nurse practitioner sisters were there when Mom started going downhill. I told my youngest sister that I trusted her to be our eyes, our ears, our hands. I trusted her nursing instinct. And she was right. Mom’s liver is failing now.

Both my youngest sister and I married our high school sweethearts. Before Mom got sick, my sister and her husband booked a 30th anniversary trip to Italy. Mom insists that they go. “Don’t change your whole life for me!” My sister’s afraid to go and leave Mom with the non-medical twin, the one most afraid of death. So I’m flying back to Houston on Friday and I’ll stay until my sister returns eleven days later. She thanked me for making her feel safe. I hope I can help the twins make peace with this. Mom hopes so too.

And Mom promised to wait for me.

I am forever grateful for the past 17 years I was able to work side by side with Mom. We laughed, we cried, we argued, we hugged. We always kissed so long. Never goodbye.

No matter how many miles away she is, I feel her. I don’t believe this will change when she releases her body. Mom will always be with me, always a part of me.

I spent Sunday afternoon calling all the relatives. Mom hasn’t been able to answer their calls for a couple of weeks now. Her best friend and her cousin bemoaned not coming to see her. “But you did see her. When she was well last year.” Mom was divinely guided. She went back to Philly last summer and had a great time with her childhood friends and cousins. If she knew it was “good bye”, she might not have been as free to enjoy the precious moment of Now.

Unfortunately, Mom’s not ready. Her body is done, but her spirit is strong. She wanted to hold another great-grandbaby. The hospice chaplain reassured her that she will, before anyone else. She will hold each and every one of the babies to come.

I pray to be able to help her be at peace.

Just as she birthed me into this world, I am privileged to midwife her into the spirit world.

Life is sweet and sweeter yet when you’re dancing with death. And we’re enjoying every step with Mom!

Death is not an ending; it’s a beginning of a new way of being.

Editor’s Note: And so Concludes this four part journey into life and death entwined.

59. DANCING WITH DEATH – Jan 26th-May 8th

Excerpt from “My Lovedance”

JANUARY 26TH

I type this listening through a baby monitor as Mom’s oxygen concentrator hums and puffs, I truly never expected this.

So much has happened, I can hardly breathe. Finally feeling the enormity of this event.

Yes, it’s stage IV adenocarcinoma of undetermined primary…probably small bowel as the pancreatic markers are negative. Definitely not breast, colon, lung. PET scan confirmed – no bone mets, no brain mets, nothing in her chest. But three large tumors in her retroperitoneal cavity and many metastasis to her spleen and liver.

I believe her cancer represents her fears. The first one off her duodenum is FEAR. How fear has ruled her life…it’s the mothership that launched the rest…otherwise known as the primary tumor. Then there’s one inferior to her pancreas, long and lean…I believe it is REGRET…all the regrets of her life, not doing all the things she wanted to, not forgiving herself or others, especially Dad, and Nana. Then there’s a smaller tumor near her aorta…this one is DOUBT. How Mom has doubted herself all these years. Never good enough, educated enough, smart enough, brave enough. Then there’s her VULNERABILITY splattered as mets on her spleen. She’s always been vulnerable to codependent relationships and being taken advantage of. And last, the liver mets represent her WORRY. How much time spent worrying about everything– money, love, other people’s drama.

These five fears must be released to be healed.

FEBRUARY 14th

After more than a month, Steve and I got to get away. Just up to Santa Barbara for two nights. A glorious day in the sun, nearly as hot as summer in mid-February, lounging on a private beach. As I stood in the water communing with the Divine Mother, whales swam by and I could feel their energy… “you know what to do.”

We just got the final news when we left. My youngest sister told the twins. I tried to prepare them when I got the PET scan and pathology back, but they needed to hear it from the doctor who frankly said very little except that without treatment, Mom has maybe a few months and with treatment, if she can stand being sick all the time, maybe a little longer, up to two years…but eventually the cancer will become resistant.
Mom has chosen to treat her cancer with cannabis. There’s no guarantee, but at least she’s not in pain, and has an appetite. She’s had problems with nausea, dry heaves and occasional vomiting bile, probably due to pancreatitis and tumor obstructing her bile ducts. She’s finally off oxygen as the blood clots in her lungs slowly dissolve. She’ll be on blood thinners for at least six months.

My sisters might be more comfortable if Mom chose chemo as her treatment option but it’s so hard to see her sick and frankly, Mom has never believed in chemo.

At least they agreed to the cannabis. Living with Mom high has been quite the adventure.

This would be so funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

FEBRUARY 28th

A few weeks ago, on one of Mom’s good days, we were taking a little walk to the mailbox and she stopped and squeezed my arm.

“You know, my cancer is going to catapult your healing practice into the future you’ve always dreamed of.”

“Thanks, Mom, for the many gifts you have given me.”

In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, we traversed our soul paths together. Without Mom, Full Circle Family Health would have never been realized. Without Mom, I could have never birthed Genesis Health Products. Without Mom, I would have never founded our charity – Divine Daughters Unite. Mom has always been my biggest cheerleader, breathing hope into my dreams even if she couldn’t believe in her own.

Sometimes healing means releasing the old ways of being to make way for the new.

Everything’s a gift. Our challenge is to be open to receive the gift of each and every encounter.

MARCH 20th

Right now, Mom is at a beach house in Oxnard with my sisters, giving them time to process the reality of the situation. We’re not all on the same page medically. So we had a meeting. Mom said there were three rules: no harsh words, we had to laugh, and ultimately remember that this is her decision. One of my sisters is still struggling with letting Mom go. It’s better now that she can witness Mom’s decline first hand, yet it’s still hard.

After my sisters were finished deciding what was best for Mom, I asked her what she felt was happening. She said she thinks that she hasn’t decided whether to stay or go and that’s why it seems like the cannabis isn’t working, that’s why she’s still sick.

I told her that I do not believe there is any “thing” we can give her that will cure her cancer. I believe that only she has the power to cure herself. And if she chooses to go, I told her I would help her pass as gracefully as possible.

MAY 8th

Mom is gone.

Not to heaven, not yet. She’s in Utah.

After that horrific two weeks in March when Mom finally understood she was dying, she returned to my care. She had lost another ten pounds, was weak, dehydrated, worn out from pain. I got her rehydrated, switched her cannabis from oral to suppositories which controls pain and nausea much better without the psychoactive effects – sometimes I feel like I’m on the set of Breaking Bad as I experiment with the best way to formulate cannabis for her.

I called hospice for palliative care, got physical therapy started, and got her to work with a psychospiritual therapist. I then sat down and had a come to Jesus talk with her (or come to Buddha talk, as she was reading Buddhist books at the time). I asked her again if she was ready to die and she said emphatically, NO!

“Then, Mom, you are going to have to take control of your health care. Just like I teach my patients. You must be in the driver’s seat when it comes to your health.”

Mom showed her true spirit and rallied. She took over her own meds, even learned to administer her own suppositories. Mom was sure she couldn’t possibly reach. I reminded her she’d wiping her own but for 70 plus years. She gave me the stink eye, but managed to administer her own suppository. Yes! Goodness knows, if we couldn’t find the humor in this cancer-drama and laugh, we’d be crying all the time.

Mom began preparing her own meals and ate every couple of hours trying to gain the pounds she’d lost. She became discouraged when her weight didn’t change after a week of trying, so I taught her how to eat consciously. How to not just be grateful for the food, but to bless each and every bite, and instruct that precious food to do for her body what she wished. A week later she had put back on six pounds.

Under the guidance of her therapist, Mom arranged meetings either by phone or in person with the people in her life she needed to release. On Easter Sunday, she even performed a profoundly beautiful and heart wrenching ceremony, first releasing her mother, then my sisters, and finally in tears…me.

I tried to help Mom die consciously, and she began to live consciously.

By mid-April, it was clear Mom had taken a turn for the better. It was time for her to be with my sisters and her other grandchildren. She agreed.

I called my sisters. They were excited that Mom seemed better. I warned them that it was the calm before the storm. The time when the terminally ill rally, seem so much better, then slip away. They didn’t care. They just wanted to spend what good days Mom may have left with her.

So I did for Mom what she did for me and released her.

My sister flew out from Utah and drove our mother north. Mom finally got to see Jarys’ new apartment and bring him a fruit bowl (because it’s not a home unless you have a bowl full of fruit to offer your guests). Then they headed to Vallejo to stay at at the twin’s beach house for a few days. Last Monday, my sister flew with Mom to Utah.

It was hard letting her go. Trusting that she would be ok without me. Trusting that I would be ok without her.

It wasn’t an easy transition. The day my sister arrived here, Mom got off her schedule, skipped a dose of cannabis, became paranoid, insomniac, emotional. Her change in mood appeared to be chemical, but perhaps it was fear.

Too much, too soon, yet there so little time left to complete her “bucket list” (Mom’s terminology, not mine). I don’t believe in putting all my dreams, wishes, aspirations into a bucket to do “someday”.

I believe the time is NOW – to be fully present each and every moment.

Before she left, Mom wanted to see Kyra. When Mom first got out of the hospital, she dreamt Kyra told her she was having a baby. That evening Kyra gave her a stuffed elephant she bedazzled with her crocheted wedding doilies. She told her Grandma Honey to please sleep with the toy to imprint it with her energy so when she’s through with it, Kyra can give the elephant to her babies. After sleeping with it for the past four months, Mom returned the elephant to Kyra.

59. DANCING WITH DEATH – January 6th

Excerpt from “My Lovedance” Editor’s Note: Part one of a four part series.

On January 6th, 2015 life threw me a curve ball.

I took one look at my mother and knew life was about to change. Mom was sick, really sick. And I know sick.

I’ve been working in the medical field for over thirty years. I can smell disease, feel tumors, see death. And Mom rarely ever gets sick.

But after flying to Utah to spend Christmas with one of my sisters and then driving from LAX to Big Bear to entertain my youngest sister’s family for New Years, Mom was tired. And she’s never tired! My mom is the Energizer Bunny! Plus she had a strange rash on her her legs.

So that day despite being “my worst patient” as she proudly claimed, Mom got up on my exam table so I could check her out.

The rash turned out to be phlebitis and I didn’t like what I felt in her stomach. And the abdominal ultrasound confirmed my suspicions.
So I consulted with my collaborating physician and ordered a CT scan and a venous Doppler. Mom’s bloodwork didn’t look great either.

The next week as I was orchestrating Mom’s care, my other sister (there’s four of us girls, less than four years apart between me and the youngest with twins in between) texted that she was driving from Northern California to check in on Dad.

My parents have been divorced for twenty-five years but still lived in the same town.

Mom drove up to Ojai to stay and work with me, managing my businesses since 1997. And she insisted on driving the seventy miles back home so we could have our separate lives. A very self-sufficient woman, our mother raised us girls to be strong and independent.

Dad seemed to have the same neurological symptoms he had five years earlier, so I set up an appointment with his neurosurgeon, ordered blood, and an MRI.

Mom had a tendency to focus more on others than herself, so I didn’t think she needed to know about Dad yet and she was adamant that I not tell my sisters about her until we knew more.
So the next morning, I’m with Mom at the interventional radiologist getting her liver biopsied while juggling calls from my sister regarding Dad’s medical care. When it rains, it pours.

That evening my sisters were giving me a hard time for not getting more involved with Dad. I went in to check on Mom and she took one look at my face and asked what’s wrong?

“Please,” I begged her, “let me tell my sisters.”

She agreed.

I called a conference call knowing my three sisters would think it was regarding Dad. “This isn’t about Dad. It’s about Mom.”

And then the tears began to flow.

The great weight was lifted for a short time. The next day Mom insisted on going back home to pack. Since her venous Doppler showed no signs of deep vein thrombosis, my collaborating physician and the interventional radiologist agreed that she could go home. I let her go, knowing my sister would stay with her.

But Mom felt fine and sent my sister home!
Sunday morning at 7:15, I got a call from Mom’s partner. “Deb, the paramedics are here and they want to speak to you.”

I instructed the emergency personnel that Mom was probably having a pulmonary embolism. By the time I got to the ER in her home town, they had brought her back to life three times.

I walked into the emergency room – the same one I volunteered as a candy striper before going to UCLA nursing school in 1981. There I found my mom intubated, panicking, but very much alive.

I kissed her, tried to orient her, asked the nurse to please sedate her, and consulted with the emergency physicians. Then I texted my sisters. “You need to come now.” They all flew in that evening. By then mom was in the ICU.

That was Mom’s worse nightmare.

I know nearly dying, being intubated and tied down (yes, they use soft restraints to keep the patients from pulling out their ventilation tube) would be most people’s worst nightmare, but being taken to that particular hospital was hers.

You see, both her parents died in that hospital.
In December 1982, my beloved grandparents moved from Philadelphia to California to be near their only daughter and granddaughters.

I was just a nursing student at UCLA but when Poppop got off that plane, I knew he was going to die. And he did, three weeks later.

Less than two years later, Nana died in that same hospital.

Mom never ever wanted to go there…but there she was in the ICU, unable to communicate with a tube down her throat and her hands tied down. Have you ever seen anyone yell with their eyes?

Thank goodness for my daughter, an ICU nurse, who knew those machines like

The back of her hand. The rest of us nurses…yes, three out of four daughters…hadn’t been practicing in the hospital for years.

Five days after that fatalistic call, Mom was discharged from the hospital into my care.

58. RELEASING YOUR OLD STORY

Excerpt from “My Lovedance”

Now more than ever, we are experiencing the growing pains of change. Yet we hang onto the old like a worn-out lifeline.

It is human nature to fear change, yet change is part of life. What makes us sick oftentimes are old habits, old paradigms, old storylines that no longer serve us.

How many of us have lived personal story lines of conflict, abandonment, anger, unworthiness, sadness, apathy, poverty consciousness, victim consciousness and more. The energy of our story often precedes us setting a path for our future. We manifest what we believe.

The time is ripe to release our old story.

The challenge is that many of us are still hanging on to those old story lines as if they were attached like an arm or a leg. What if you let your old story lines go?

Every challenge you may be having right now, stems from a long held story-line that has turned into a conflict that you struggle with to be whole and healthy.

Setting our old story lines free with appreciation for the lessons learned can be difficult if we are unaware of our higher purpose.

What if everything, even the “bad” stuff, is really a lesson in love? Learning to love others, love the earth, but most of all—love ourselves.

Some of you might have read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements.

• Be impeccable with your word.
What you think and especially what you say—becomes your reality.

• Don’t make assumptions.
There is ALWAYS a deeper meaning, a lesson to be learned, a reason for everything that happens. Learn to perceive with an open mind and generous heart.

• Always do your best.
Your best is being your truth, being true to your Self, and choosing Love over Fear.

• Don’t take anything personally.
Some of our old story lines are like family heirlooms. We’ve been carrying the energy of our ancestors, our family stories—the good, the bad and the ugly.

Time to let go of all that does not serve us.

Your body holds onto the energy of these story lines and manifests dis-ease, aging, injury, fatigue, insomnia.

Time to clear the temple of your being.

Learning to Love yourself erases all that no longer serves.

You have to be willing to love yourself so much that you are willing to love and appreciate all even the despair, anguish, shame, blame, guilt, sadness, feeling of betrayal, victim consciousness, poverty consciousness and feeling of unworthiness—everything and release it to the Light of Love.

Here’s an exercise that may help:

1) Write down every story that you keep repeating in your life. Then place it under a heading such as self-sabotage, grief, sadness, poverty-consciousness, apathy, unworthiness etc.

2) In stillness and with love, find in your heart appreciation for the story and the part you played. Release each story, one at a time, with heartfelt love, back to the Divine Light. Say out loud: “I end this story. It is complete.”

3) Then take a deep cleansing breath and say out loud and with absolute belief—I Am Love Say it at least 12 times! See inside of yourself how the release of the old stories are making space in your being for something new and abundantly joyous to be played out in your life.

4) When you are ready, simply choose Love and another storyline one that is abundantly rich in passion, love, light, and joy!

May you be blessed with love and light.