Something I love about this human adventure, is that no matter how many times I have zipped myself into a glorified meat suit, it always occurs as a novelty. Riveting and shocking and mysterious. I mean… you’d think I’d be pretty hum-drum about birth and death by now… given that this old soul has been around the damn block enough times to turn to melty butter like the tigers of our beloved, banned children’s book of yesteryore, Little Black Sambo. I know it’s taboo to talk about Little Black Sambo, circa 2017. I guess it was a racist book. But the five year old me had no idea. She was simply captivated by Little Black Sambo’s hero’s journey– being stalked by tigers and finally rising victorious by tying their tails together, so that they ran circles around the tree he took refuge in, until they smeared into perfectly churned butter. Which he and his parents (Black Mumbo and Black Jumbo) slathered on their epic, towering stacks of pancakes.
Alas, the death of my mother still comes as a shock. Even as I type these words, I feel quiet tremors of incredulity that she will not discover this post in her inbox and drink it with her soft, radiant, soul-filled eyeballs. Her inbox will slowly overflow with unrequited communications, collecting virtual dust until the End of Time. Dear Sumitra has left the building. This is as damn near as “at a loss for words” as I’ve ever been. But as a writer, this tragic wordlessness doesn’t really fly… So I’m going to raise my sword to the holy heavens and charge onward. Just sayin’… there’s a lot of pauses and humble deep-dives into silence and stillness over here as I excavate my raw thoughts and feelings on the subject of my mother’s recent exit.
It came as a sudden, crafty plot-twist. Sure, she had cancer… but Dr. Campbell assured her that it was “the most curable form of cancer”, and that with a piddly six months of chemo therapy, she’d be cancer free for the rest of her life, ready and able to resume all of her previously appointed duties, namely caring for her small and radiant granddaughter. She almost made it to the halfway point of her treatments. Then suddenly, she could barely breathe. She went to the emergency room and they admitted her to ICU, ran a thousand tests and diagnosed her with pneumonia. After more than a week of heavy antibiotics, she showed no signs of improvement. More chest x-rays revealed that her lungs were destroyed beyond repair. Dr. Campbell confessed that it was due to an ingredient in the chemotherapy. I got a highly disturbing call from the hospital on wednesday, March 15 (my Ma always enjoyed telling me to “beware of the Ides of March), just before 7am, in which a male nurse with some sort of heavy asian accent relayed a cryptic message culminating with the news that my Ma wished to be “made comfortable”.
Made comfortable. Who knew that those two words could be so laden with razor blades and arsenic. Jesus. My heart dropped into my toes, my breath stopped, my stomach twisted up.
But I’m not here to regale all of the concrete facts and stiff, linear logistics. It’s the enchanting, dim twilight of in-between spaces that matter to me. Gentle impressions and coy whispers from the Beyond within my own hidden reaches.
Once it was determined that God was calling her hOMe, she was all in! God dammit, she was so young… Sixty-nine. And a half. But she was done. I guess years are only one unit of measurement of a human life. The one which is most universally accepted… but in terms of love given and received, extraordinary children born, raised and released into the wilds of a civilized, first world, capitalist culture… in terms of pouring herself forth into myriad eclectic jobs and housing situations…. Friendships devotionally tended… leaves passionately raked… spiritual progress made… lattes savored, chocolate croissants ravaged…. There are endless units of measurement that would indicate a life mission fulfilled. Except being there to watch her precious granddaughter blossom. Insert shattered heart icon here.
I was afraid that her sudden absence would be like my beloved Dan’s– an abrupt departure, with no trace. For the past five years, I’ve grappled unsuccessfully to communicate with Dan… resolving again and again that this dense capricorn is simply not adept at communicating with etherial realms. But thank GOD, it’s different with my own mother. My body is made from hers. Our hearts are like The Blob. Spliced units of the same goopy mass of divinity. I mean, I guess all of our hearts are that… since our deepest truth beyond form is Unity…. But this raw unity is way more exaggerated between mother and daughter.
Loss is the obvious dimension of the death of one’s mother. Like duh. But who talks about the profound and holy gains of Her departure? I’m sure SOMEbody must… but it certainly isn’t a mainstream conversation, as I believe it should be. If I had a nickel for every time someone numbly regurgitated the socially appropriate words, “I’m sorry for your loss”… No offense if you are one of them. I know that death is awkward, and not something most of us face head on. But you could just as easily say to me, “I’m so happy for your gain!” Or, “Congratulations on your sudden, warp-speed soul evolution!”
My ma left me with a shattered heart. Well… maybe not quite shattered. But certainly more than garden-variety “broken”. At least some Grand Canyon cracks in numerous, significant places. Enough such that the busted dam of Oceanic Love is screaming through the invisible center of me. I have officially taken my seat amongst the cream of the ecstatic, God-drunk poets.
She died at just after ten am on Saint Patrick’s Day. My brother Daniel, Serena and I had all spent the night in the hospital with her. She was deluged with high doses of morphine, breathing desperately all night. Morning came, and it was hard to determine when she’d let go. I had plain old life to attend to, I went to her side, put my hand on her still-warm, beating heart. I could feel the tremendous effort of her lungs, desperately sucking in air. I spoke from my heart, “Be free” and “You did amazing” and “I love you. Always”. I let go of attachment to being there when she actually left her body for good. I scooped up my tiny goddess and headed for the parking lot. Just as I was about to drive away into the crisp, bright, spring morning, Daniel called in tears and said, “Come back up here.” She had left minutes after we departed. I’ve since heard that this is a common phenomena.
Her mouth was wide open, her eyes closed. Her body void of light and life. What an incredible sight to see my Mama’s empty husk.
I asked her before she left… even before I knew the time was so fucking soon… if she’d please share with me some of her Divine Revelations as she re-emerged into Light-Unbounded. I can’t remember her response…. but even so, she honored my request. I felt my crown chakra splayed wide, as though I had splattered across the sky, the entire day of her departure. And even into the next day. It was as if I died too.
I did die. I am still dying. Raw and skinless. Churning moosh in a fragile cocoon.
Soon it will be Easter, and I will RISE.
There is more… More revelation, more grief, more transmutation of pain, alchemy of soul, IN-sight.
But this is enough for today. Serena will soon stir… and my Dear Brother and I have much work ahead of us, sorting through our Mama’s worldly belongings. Yes, it’s really true– you CAN’T take it with you. Wink.