Excerpt from “My Lovedance”
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.
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!