The Death of my Ma

walking into the light

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.

Deep breath.

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.

The Ultimate Alchemy

RadiantHeart

Do you reckon that lead was loafing around one day and suddenly got a bug up his butt to make something more of himself?  Do you think he daydreamed obsessively about a noble and unknowable Destiny that lived in the secret blueprints of his elemental DNA?  And all at once, he had a divine lightning impulse to leap into an inferno, seal off all the exits, and die an excruciating and slow death?

I doubt it.

I am lead.  Except I DO have a bug up  my butt to Become a golden embodiment of the pristine glory of Heaven.  And even though I thirst for this compelling Destiny from the depths of my soul, I’m not feeling entirely gracious and patient in this stuffy, hot, sealed container.  I keep trying to bust the lid off… I keep trying to control the thermostat.  But when did lead ever become gold, behaving like that???  There’s a lot I don’t know.  But I DO know the answer to that question:  NEVER.

Oh, and actually, I know one more thing… I *will* become Go(l)d.  We all will.  And we all already are, but we mostly try to pretend otherwise.  What a frivolous game.  But I wouldn’t be able to sit here on my couch, sipping delicious tea and typing these confounded, exploratory and poetically persuaded words if the Game wasn’t ON.  Sure, Life is hard work… but it’s worth it.  It’s a pretty “neat” set-up.  (As an aficionado of words, with a reverence for their nuanced potent capacity for sculpting reality, I got off on saying “neat”… because it’s so ordinary.  But sometimes the best option is the worn-in, comfy jeans… “intentionally casual”…)

There I go again, spiraling out into those far-out rings of vast conceptuality.  Don’t just SIT there!… Reel me IN!!!  Make yourself useful over there!!!  ;-p

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

I often joke about being “Hemingway simple”… but I’ve never even read him.  That’s his first line from The Old Man and the Sea…  Okay, now it’s my turn.

Lately it is clear to me that Life is in charge, and yet, again and again, I watch my small self step into the ring and try to wrastle It to the dusty ground.  I never win.  I just end up angry and sad and hopelessly tangled in elective torture.

Athena!  That was NOT Hemingway simple.  Yeah, well, guess what?  I’m NOT Earnest Hemingway.  I’m Athena Grace LMNOP.  And I’m trying so hard to be my best.  Hey!  In the reflection of my computer screen, I can see the dawning day out my kitchen window… hummingbirds zoom and buzz around the feeder, and then whizz off into the bright sky.  See?  This is the frivolous stuff that makes Life so heart-wrenchingly worth it.  Hummingbirds and glitter glue and breastfeeding.  Hemingway probably didn’t care much about such sacred frivolities.  And then he shot himself…

Anyway, my Relationship with Ed seems to be a masterfully threaded garland of perpetual disappointments lately.  I mean it’s sort of always been that way.  But it’s like God turned up the thermostat in the last few months.  I stand up, I get smacked down.  I stand up, I get smacked down.  It’s a broken record.  Except I can’t help but suspect that it is a very intelligently, intentionally broken record.  Akin to our beloved friend Lead… all this fierce and decimating heat… is making something so fabulous out of me.  But I HATE IT!!!!!!  Hahahaha, it feels so frickin good to tell it like it is.  THIS, my Friends, is precisely why the Buddha said that Life is suffering.  Trust me, you can get as new-age spiritual bypassy and far-out as you wanna… but at some point, you’re gonna land with a humbling thud, right back in the center of your unwieldy and intelligently merciless body, heart and Life.  And it will hurt.  And you will love anyway.  (At least that’s MY hypothesis…)

I watch my darling little ego struggle to maintain a *false* sense of control as she is pummeled and scorched and hopelessly deranged.  I try to “break through” with Ed… as I have done a hundred and eight times before.  As if that will permit me to “win” the Game.  I’m not saying that we should stay together…. I honestly have no clue what “should” happen.  What I do know, is that we care for each other deeply… we are eternally in Service to one anothers’ hearts… and most Hemingway simple, we have a child together, which will keep us practically bound for the rest of our lives.

I’m NOT politically inclined.  AT ALL.  But I’m no dummy.  Even with my head snuggled over here in this glittering, silky sand, I realize the World As We Know It is coming undone.  It fascinates me to witness collective consciousness, and how these universal energies and themes express and unravel so uniquely and creatively through each of our personal stories… We are ALL lead.  Go(l)d is beckoning us from Inside.  The heat is ON.  We need not fear, or try to be in control.  Love.  Love will show us the Way.  Love IS the Way.

I’ve always had this crippling tendency to want to BE THERE, without taking the (arduous) steps to get there.  No matter what the IT happens to be.  Lately it has been manifesting as impatience and a compelling itch to judge myself for not acting like the Master that I know I am Destined to become.  I want to be like Matt Kahn.  So fully given in Service of the Love that abides in all hearts… which is actually ONE HEART.  But instead I am riveted my little life, my futile battle in Relationship… And the endlessly gnawing question of how to become “Successful”… which to me looks like manifesting a career where I positively impact droves of hearts and make buttloads of money doing so.

Dear God… all these things I imagine to matter… that really don’t matter much at all.  Help me to be free, God.  Oh wait… YOU ARE.  THAT’S what this obliterating alchemy is all about.  And I have this idea like, if only I behaved like XYZ, it wouldn’t hurt so much.  But maybe there is no way to avoid pain.  Maybe pain is essential and holy.  Maybe I am doing it all PERFECT.

Maybe we ALL are.

And then she relaxed her body of sublimely sculpted stardust.  And then Infinity breathed her breath so slow and deep.  And Success gently danced down upon her like the first sparkling snowflakes of winter, cooly kissing an enchanted forest.

I might be clumsy more often then I want to… but my essential truth is that all of my efforts and my fierce will to LOVE is for US.  I’m certain that the Light will emerge victorious.  Success is Love.  Love is Life.  Life is breaking us down… And this is the BEST news EVER.

Keep the Faith, my Friends.   Go(l)d is ours Destiny… and an exquisite, bright dawn is whispering her ecstatic light in every heart.  I promise.

The Legend of the Black Lightening Bolts

If I try to be extraordinary this morning, chances are, I will not get anything written.  So in the name of sharing my life and my mind with you, I am going to put my extraordinariness under cover, and three-two-one DO THIS!!!  But first, I am going to put on my ridiculous, dazzling lightening bolt earrings… because they have magical powers, and I want to see how they effect my writing.  I know that seems a bit contradictory… to be undercover, with gigantic, black, sparkly lightening bolts sprouting from my ears… I can’t argue with that.   I guess I’m not committed to being ordinary… I just wanna git-er-done… and my time is very limited.  Serena is nearing the four month alive mark, and gone are the days when she’d wake up, and act like a breastfeeding blob of dough in my lap.  Now she wants to commune with me, and fervently prepare for the not so distant day when she shall own the World!!! (And thank GOD for that… because it is past due time for this world to be owned by a Tiny Beaming Buddha with an incessant God-drunk grin.)

I think the earrings are working.  My Ma (and of course Serena) and I went into Town a couple of weeks ago, (yes, living way out in the woods, as we do, “going into Town” is a “Thing”… which still tickles me, being a Bay Area native.  Most of my adult life, I’ve been able to step out my door and be instantly transported to the BEST cafes, yoga studios, restaurants, dance classes and general rambunctious swirls of grandiose human doing-ness.) Where was I?  Ah yes, we went into Town, and I wanted to get something(s) new to wear, because the few clothes I have, probably predate the dinosaurs, and even with my innate, bohemian je-ne-sais-quoi, which by some stroke of magic, allows me to appear a bit flashy and enchanting, I was (and still am) seriously sinking in the domain of fashion.

I had high hopes for “Solstice”, the vintage, costume and chic used clothing shoppe in Town… but mostly my daintily cloud-brushing hopes sunk like a crippled submarine.  It’s just not the same, shopping with a needy three month old strapped to you, and a body to testify that it really has not been that long since she burst triumphantly into this world.  I got two tank tops.  I couldn’t try them on, because by the time I found them, Serena had fallen asleep in her ergo pouch, and there was no way I was gonna disturb her, so my beneficent ma took a wild woman gamble and bought them for me just in case they were awesome.  They were.  Praise the Lord.  And that is not even what I set out to tell you.  But you might as well know that I am well initiated as a mom, and my life is no longer my own.  And this somehow tickles me.

But the particularly loose moral of this story, is that up by the register, there were these over-the-top ridiculous black lightening bolt earrings on display.  And they honestly got all up in my business.  They wouldn’t leave me alone!  I’m pretty sure they were whispering promises of rockstardom and world domination, oh-so-softly in my ear.  My eyes turned into swirling spirals, and I heard strange, secret music flooding my ears.  I looked at the price tag, and they were twenty bucks.  Actually nineteen ninety-nine to be artistically precise.  No WAY was I gonna shell out such an obscene amount of money… even in the name of rockstar world domination… I have been a heavyweight champion miser since Serena arrived.  My life has revolved around paying my rent and utilities, not looking fabulous and having frivolous fun of yester yore.

All that unsatisfying shopping (and breastfeeding) worked up an appetite though, so we moseyed over to a cute little cafe down the street, which to my delight had outdoor seating!  I got a turkey sammy (came with a pickle and thick, ridged potato chips) and a spicy chai.  My Ma got a Mad Hatter looking slice of cake and a bowl of soup.  Being a short-order joint, they sent us away with the cake and chai, and gave us a number for our “savories”.  My Ma made mention of having to wait to eat her cake till after soup.  With glitter black lightening speed, I informed her that this was not the case!  She could indeed eat her cake FIRST.  Apparently, this was delightful news to her, because like the Queen of England on anonymous holiday, she dove right in!  And like the Queen of England’s privileged, croquet prodigy progeny, I ate most of the perfectly bitter, buttery chocolate frosting layer.  I love that about my Ma… she is so endlessly giving to her babies… No matter how giant and self reliant we become.

But alas, none of that mattered so much in the grand scheme.  I mean of ALL the unwritten stories that sleep like mythical beasts inside the fortress of my mind, body and soul, why was I compelled to tell THAT one???   I think mostly because I liked the part about giving my mama permission to eat her cake first.  I really do find myself endearing for having such frivolous, whimsical priorities.

And now for the steak and potatoes of this momentous literary masterpiece.  My best dear friend Anitra, fresh off the plane from India, had joined us at the cafe, and after lunch (which was cut short by a rare and extreme, latte curdling wailing session by Serena– I think she was overwhelmed by the excessive stimulus of Town…) we set off together for a little “friendsie time”, and my Ma was left to entertain herself, which is very natural and delicious for her, since not only is she independent by nature, but she also had a purse brimming with cash on this almost warm and sometimes sunny, waxing spring-ish day.

At two thirty, when we converged back at Faith (my valiant, silver station wagon), she delightedly displayed an assortment of “things” she had acquired while we were apart.  I feel like a shmoo for not memorizing all of them… I DO remember a bright orange hat she had gifted herself, “for gardening”.  And of course I remember the little brown bag she handed me, which I immediately ravaged and discovered the illustrious, coveted lighting bolts!!  I immediately put them on, and assessed our communion in the visor mirror… I was amazed to discover, that immense and exaggerated as they were, they somehow achieved an acute sense of rightness on me.  And in that moment, my life changed.

I’m serious.  I transformed from a blah-zay, frugal, single mother dressed in ancient rags, to a SUPER HERO(INE) with undetermined, yet unmistakable magical powers.  I’m still trying to attune to what they ARE… But when I wear my “bolts”, I feel giant and invincible and wealthy!!!  I am a force to be reckoned with.

Yesterday, I wore them as I made quiches for the first time in my life, to be sold at Master’s Market… and when the savory egg pies emerged from the oven, one of them still had some goop.  I panicked, because I was afraid that if I cooked it longer, the egg matter would turn tough.  Eggs are really such delicate, touchy creatures, who demand attentive kid gloves and ample tenderness.  I decided to bake it a bit longer… I hope it worked out.  I am still shaking in my weather-beaten, fur-lined pink ugg boots, to be honest.  But I will testify, that the only way I survived that risky wrassle with mortality and imperative customer satisfaction, was wearing these said heavily enchanted earrings.

…And come to think of it, they are probably the reason that little Serenie-doodle is asleep in my lap right now, and I am able to finish this essential tale of my existence.  Speaking of my existence… I’m not sure that I’m exactly “afraid of death”… but lately, I’ve been acutely aware that I might be pretty bummed when the “Athena Grace movie” is over.  I mean, yeah, yeah, eternal souls and all that erudite, spiritually enlightened jazz… but still… whoever this is, who is currently donning the ingenious costume, fondly known as “Athena Grace LMNOP”, is gonna slip out of it one of these days… and even though this indwelling, fabulous shimmer of Eternity will continue on (and on and on and on and on and…), the “Athena Grace movie” will be over.  And I’m sad for this… Because I love being Athena Grace.  She’s such a bold, quirky and lovable heroine.  How could my soul POSSIBLY top this one???

I guess it’s possible.

EVERYTHING is possible in God’s dream.