Three years ago, at the age of seventy-two, my mom left her body, after a seven-year battle with cancer. When she was first diagnosed, the prognosis wasn’t good — two weeks or two months if we were “lucky.”
She lived every day of those last seven years to the fullest. She traveled to Ireland, Hawaii, and California, with many visits to her children and grandchildren in Maryland, Georgia, and Florida. She even pilgrimaged with me and Narayan to India in 2016. It was an intensive tour, with long, bumpy, plane, train, taxi, and bus rides just about every day for three weeks. We visited holy shrines in hard-to-reach, uneven places with loads of stairs. Her body struggled at times but her spirit soared.
During our visit to Lahiri Mahasaya’s family shrine in Varanasi, Mom had a sacred experience and received confirmation that God is Love and really, nothing else matters. Narayan wrote a beautiful blog about her experience that you can read here.
She was my first teacher and my best friend. One piece of wisdom she shared was when I was just getting earnestly on the spiritual path. I was pondering about the nature of God: “If we all have a spark of the Divine within us, maybe all souls together make up what we consider God.” Her response was simple and powerful: “God is always more.” I will never forget that.
I wasn’t prepared for how hard losing her on the physical plane would be. I had seven years to prepare. Still, not having that comforting presence of unconditional love in a form was almost more than I could bear at times.
Mom was never afraid of dying. She saw it as a “change of scenery” and a “new adventure” to quote a couple of things she said to me during the weeks leading up to her transition. I’m grateful that she instilled that fearlessness around death and dying in me at an early age. While I was growing up, she was the director of a local branch of Hospice and I vividly remember stories and conversations about death as though it was like changing one’s clothing. No big deal — except for the family left behind.
Immediately after her passing, I palpably felt her presence in the room with me. It was a joyful presence. She was free from that worn-out body and was exploring the astral world. Now she could be anywhere and everywhere. We shared a laugh when I went to the bathroom and continued to feel her presence… “Come on, Mom, you’ve got to learn some boundaries.”
Now, I keep a little photo of her in our meditation room and whenever I look at it I’m reminded of the unconditional love of our Divine Mother. Thank you, Mom, for being such a beautiful instrument of God’s love.