Thank you for your kind comments and emails. As you probably guessed, Mom is no longer with us. I have some things I’d like to share about the intense time in late August, during and after her death, but not now.
On the copy of her legal will in the metal box with all her important papers, she had hand-scrawled an addition at the top of the cover page twenty years ago. “At my funeral, please have my friend Barbara sing the old hymn called “In the Garden.”” My good friend Karen and I were able to sing it to her immediately before she died, with her best friend Barbara on speakerphone singing along with us at her bedside when she was just leaving consciousness. We’ll all sing it again at her service.
Some of her ashes went into my garden right away, and her gardening hat sits on the fence by the flowers she loved, where the birds she adored love to peck around for seeds as fall descends. I like having that tangible physical space so close by to honor her with, to leave treats and flowers, to talk to her when her memory calls me. A cemetery would be much too far away, even if it were in our town. Now I understand in my heart why so many cultures create shrines at their homes for their ancestors.
Life is moving along. We’re planning her memorial service out east in early October. Grief was overwhelming the first few days, and now comes and goes in gentler waves that I can embrace and let move through me. I’m sifting and winnowing my emotions, her belongings, the memories, the space. Light and shadows, always shifting. Not bad, not good. Bittersweet transition time. Deep sadness for the physical end to such a sweet, long-in-coming friendship with my dear mother that I only knew for a handful of years of my life, and profound relief that the long suffering from her illness has lifted for both of us.