Here’s something I’ve learned about losing someone you love since my mother died. Your loved-one shows up in the most unexpected moments, in a myriad of small ways and some big ones.
I hear my mother’s unique signature phrases on the lips of friends or complete strangers. I’ve seen her smiling face flash into my mind as I’ve sat in the temple. I felt her sitting beside me at last night’s concert at the North River Civic Center when they played “Autumn Leaves” (one of her favorites). Her presence was so close, I moved the program from the empty chair beside me and invited her to take a seat.
She’s in the air I breathe, in the music I hear, in the inspiration I feel, and in more ways and places than I can count. If you’ve lost someone close to you, open your heart and your eyes and gratefully acknowledge every single sign of them. They are with you… everywhere and always.
This Percy Faith version of Autumn Leaves is the version my mother listened to most.
The journey of the last few months has taught me a life-altering principle. When you simultaneously “lose” your angel mother, your marriage, your property, a drivable car, and temporarily can’t live in the same home with your children for several months, it has the ability to take you to a place where there is nothing but you and God.
Your relationship with Him is all that matters. When you lean into that, instead of fighting the emotions or the reality, when you sing His praises through it all, something extraordinary happens.
God opened my eyes to see that nothing is ever lost. Nothing is created or destroyed. It simply changes forms.
In the vey moment that those manifestations of God’s love and provision left my life, new ones came to take their place. God gave me a place to live, a car to drive. He raised up friends, poured out music and gifts, strengthened family relationships, and opened my eyes to see all the love and compensating blessings around me.
I began to see my mother everywhere. Her love enveloped me. God brought friends and loved ones to give me the support, the belonging, the acknowledgement, and the caring I once received from a spouse.
Honestly, it was more than I’d received from him. It came from hundreds of people and from many new close friends I could be open and vulnerable with.
About 3 months after it all happened, I received an overwhelming understanding that I have everything I’d ever need, no matter what happened. I saw clearly that I can always trust God to provide. Once I saw this, He began consolidating all that love, acknowledgement, belonging and provision into a group and then into one person. Then He began returning the years the locusts had eaten.
I see resurrection and restoration all around me in process and I trust it will continue to a full restoration. But if not, I am always provided for in this moment… everything I need is right here with me right now, if I continue to have eyes to see and receive.
I’ve had some miraculous things developing in my life since my mother’s passing. She was always running to my rescue in life and I’ve thought she must be an angel working overtime now. About a week after she passed I had this amazing feeling of hope sweep over me and I heard, “Your life is about to get amazing.” I sensed that with my angel mother on my side, anything was possible.
Her love is with me always and has amplified. I see her everywhere – in the little things and in the amazingly-orchestrated happenings of my life.
Today, while driving to sign the lease on my new apartment, I thought about recent events. I feel like I’m receiving everything I’ve asked for and MORE… wonderful spontaneous surprises that are over and above what I had ever asked for. As I thought of these blessings, I was praying and thanking my Heavenly Father for everything He is sending my way. I asked Him to forgive me for the times I’ve whined and griped and bargained over the last several years.
While I have had my grateful, shining, and faithful moments, I have had others when I wasn’t so faithful and wasn’t so grateful. But, God is blessing me anyway – in spite of myself.
While counting my blessings, I thought of Christmases as a child and how my mother made Christmas so special. The Sears catalogue would arrive a few months before Christmas. My brother and I would flip through its shiny pages looking for items we wanted. We would tell Mama what we’d like to have. Then, invariably, at the last minute, we’d change our minds.
When Christmas morning came, there was always everything we asked for and more. She’d always find a way to surprise us with something extra special in our stockings. Perhaps it would be a bracelet or a necklace for me or an extra toy for my brother. When my kids were little, she loved doing the same for them.
As I pondered on the blessings that are coming my way, I thought, “This is SO Mama. She must have a hand in this.” And then tears filled my eyes as I realized that while my mother may be playing a role in some angelic realm, it is my Heavenly Father who is giving me these things. He has always intended and wanted to give me these things. It is HIS plan playing out.
I’m ashamed to admit, there have been times I’ve viewed Him as not supporting me, not being there for me, not really caring if I had the things I pleaded for. I had been through so many difficult things, I had begun to expect very little from life, assuming my lot would never be a good one again. Not until my mother passed did I begin to believe that I had someone on my side in the spiritual realms. Someone who loved me unconditionally and would go to bat for me and run to me should I ever need her.
I actually had more faith in my earthly mother’s love than I did in God’s. I knew and felt her love. It struck me with such force today that God loves me even MORE than my mother. She showed me God’s love while she was on earth and I have continued to feel her love amplified, radiating toward me, enveloping me.
His love is the same and infinitely more. There is nothing happening here that is not His will, that is not His love. I am humbled by that love and feel bad that I did not have more faith in Him.
I wonder how many blessings I denied myself because I did not fully believe and receive His love or expect good things. Did my mother’s entrance into heavenly realms actually make all of this possible, not because she’s the one doing them, but because now I believe?
Today was one of those days when you realize why you are where you are — and it’s not the reason you thought you were. Today my grief is serving another. This morning, my best friend, Martina’s father died unexpectedly. He was only 62 and had not been ill. Imagine the grief and complete shock.
I’ve been staying with Martina for most of this trip. Being here with her at this time feels like no coincidence. It’s interesting that by this time in my trip, I expected to be staying with another friend, but it didn’t work out.
While Martina was meeting at the hospital with her family before the body was taken to the morgue, I felt drawn to go to the Bountiful temple. I had such a strong impression to go and pray for Martina and each of her family members and ask what I could do to be of service.
By the time I came out, I had some clear instructions on what I could do to help and began acting on them on the way home. For example, I knew that making meals would be difficult. When I lost my mother, the thought of eating anything mundane made me nauseous. If someone offered me some good food, I’d eat it, but if I had to make it myself or forage for a sandwich, I’d just as soon not eat.
I stopped at the store on the way home for some ingredients and made the family dinner. There were a few other things I felt impressed to do and was also given greater understanding as to why I am here at this time to serve her.
My experience in losing my own mother has helped me comfort my friend and know the little things that can mean a lot. I’m so grateful to be able to be here for my friend and offer what little comfort I can. In the end, nothing I do can take away the pain, the loss, or the shock. But, if I can lighten her load in the least, it will have been worth this entire trip.
On October 6, 2015 I posted this to my Facebook wall:
“I’ve taken the hero’s journey enough to know that when you have that unsettled feeling that everything is about to change but you’re groping for clarity in the dark, invariably life sends a mentor. It dawned on me this morning that it’s just about time for the mentor to enter the scene. Wonder who it will be. Excited to see….”
My husband replied “Yoda, I am.”
That was his call sign at work at the time. In retrospect I see now he was that mentor sent to help me let go of the past. Some of that he actively did by coaching me through letting go of my house and property and moving on to a new home and a new life. He also helped me see that while I had adequately grieved my first marriage, I had not grieved the loss of IdeaMarketers.com (the big web site that I’d built my business around and then lost).
It’s ironic that he coached me through letting go when it was the single biggest thing he had trouble doing. His obsession with the past, old hurts, old things, old stories, people who had hurt him, resentment toward the Church, drama, etc made it impossible to build a future together. In the end he taught me the biggest lesson in letting go — forcing me to release him and my mother simultaneously.
No mentor is without their human element. And that’s another thing he gave me the opportunity to experience — loving someone for everything they are. The light and shadows, the support and the challenge, the wisdom and the folly.
I had the opportunity to tell him recently, “You were a gift while I had you, and you’re a gift in letting me go. Thank you.”
I’m very fortunate he did learn to finally let something go. I was not meant to travel that path with him any longer. I’m glad he saw it even though I probably never would have.
God has always been so generous to send me the right people at the right time with the right message. Cheers to the mentors!
Are you ready to release the past and move forward unencumbered?
Losing my mom has been a bitter-sweet experience. While I know she’s gone, I see my mother so much around me every day I feel like she’s not gone, she’s just in the next room.
- I see her elegance and grace in my daughter, Jillian.
- I see her thoughtfulness and generosity in my daughter Laurel.
- the way she always thought to put my name on the prayer rolls at the temple from sweet ladies at church who do the same
- her provision in her car I’m using, the clothes she left behind.
- her presence in her room I’m sleeping in.
- her motherly encouragement and wisdom in my friend Judi G. Reid
- her conversation and friendship in a myriad of friends.
- her concern and attention to detail in my dad who has now assimilated her characteristics.
- the way she looked after my kids when I couldn’t be with them in my sister, Karen.
- the light in her eyes when I look in the mirror.
- her love in my heart.
Yes, she’s just in the next room.
Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 51, and I’m starting over AGAIN. I received over 400 birthday wishes on Facebook and with every one of them, I realized I’d trade all the birthday wishes in the world for one person who truly loved and cared about me, right here in person, to spend my birthday with.
As I write this I feel ungrateful because I did have my dad with me. I spent a little time with him, but not much because I devoted the morning to completing the Breakthrough Experience exercise from Dr. John Demartini’s The Breakthrough Experience. I wanted to collapse the negative and positive aspects of my relationship with my husband. I felt it was important to give myself the gift of letting all that go so I could move forward with a clean slate for the new year.
I did have a significant breakthrough with that. It opened my eyes to where I had done the same things he’s doing, and that I have absolutely no right to judge any of it. Frankly, that in itself was rather depressing to admit. Yet, the process was liberating. I don’t feel anymore resentment or anger toward him, and that’s a good thing.
Then I taught a class. I love the people I teach and it was good to see their faces. After that I helped my two college-age kids do the final signatures on their FASFA applications (not in person).
Realizing What I Didn’t See
After that, I sat down and read one of my mom’s journals. This was not a good move. While there were some happy experiences in there, there was a lot of pain and unhappiness too. I had never fully grasped how lonely she was in her later years. She lived for her children and we were all too busy with our own lives and families to take much time to come visit her.
She made excuses for us though… that we were all trying to earn a living and then too exhausted after that to visit. But she was so incredibly lonely and there were other things that I should have seen. I ended up taking a drive to the store to get myself a coconut creme pie and bawled the whole way, telling my mother how sorry I was I didn’t make more time for her, didn’t do more for her.
The woman did SO much for me. She helped me so many times when she didn’t even have enough for herself. Where was I when she needed me most? Consumed with my own life.
Deciding What I Want to Create
Besides feeling bad about being a crappy daughter, I then began to think of my own life. Here I am at 51 STARTING OVER AGAIN. Good grief, shouldn’t I have my life figured out by now? I really don’t want to be alone and miserable in the last decades of my life.
I can’t fault my mother at all for her perspective or the serious challenges she faced. I am not saying she should have been “more positive” and “looked for the good” or “found other interests.” Sometimes the good is just really hard to see.
Still, I want to create something beautiful with my life that doesn’t go away when my kids are grown and off having their own lives — which is what I’m raising them to do. I want them to be independent. I want them to flourish. And so did my mom. She rejoiced in our successes. She was proud of us.
I want to have REAL people in my life… not just virtual birthday wishes and friends scattered all over the country who I can’t sit down with face-to-face and have a conversation with or hug.
When my mom was alive, I called her and talked with her through instant messenger multiple times each week. But, the fact was, she was here alone while my dad did his thing and she did hers. And she really wanted that face-to-face connection with me — with us.
As I go forward with my life, I want to build more of those real, tangible, face-to-face connections somehow. And I’m not going to sit around expecting that to be my kids who have their own lives to live and their own families to raise.
I’m rambling, but this is where I am… after the single most depressing birthday of my life. I did eat some pizza and pie with my dad, and sat down and watched one episode of Continuum on Netflix. I started falling asleep at the end, so I shut off the computer after it was over and dozed off. I ended up sleeping through the night. I needed it. It’s been a long 8.5 weeks.
My mind has processed so much it’s utterly exhausted. I’m ready for a shut down and a fresh reboot… maybe I could win the lottery and wake up on a beach with some friends.
Had I not gone through such a heart wrenching, mysterious rejection alongside my mother’s death would I have ever known how much I am supported and loved by so many?
- Would I have ever known that people I’ve never even met in person would actually fast and pray for me?
- Would I have ever had this sweet time with my father who loves me unconditionally?
- Would I be as acutely aware of my mother’s love that continues to sustain me?
- Would I be in this prayer bubble of heavenly support?
- Would I have found my voice? My courage? Found the music of my soul without this time with daddy, my cousin Jody and my brother-in-law?
- Would I be gaining this experiential priceless wisdom about gratitude?
- Would I finally be comprehending that divine love has two sides — challenge and support?
- Would I have this opportunity to learn how to stand in a centered place of love, peace and gratitude, and not be knocked off balance by praise or attack?
I think not… and there is so much more to learn, absorb and receive. The seeds of loss and rejection are reaping a multitude of blessings.
If I can actually learn how to live in a place of centered love, accepting everything that comes as a gift … then all of it is worth it.
Thank you for your prayers, for your love and support. And thank you, Heavenly Father for loving me enough to tell me to travel a path of pain to become the masterpiece You saw inside me.
My mother’s best friend Katie passed away a couple years before Mama. Katie could be described with one word — feisty. You always knew Katie’s mind and she was a staunch defender of her own. If you were one of her people she went to bat for you. Of course, Mama and all of her children were her “people.”
My mom, in contrast, was quiet, unassuming and gentile. She never wanted a fleck of fanfare made over her.
For years Williamson and Son funeral home, who handled Mama’s burial, has had a sign outside that announces the name of the deceased while the viewing and funeral is going on. Mama often said she did NOT want her name out there for all of Daisy to gawk at.
As luck would have it, the day before Mama’s viewing an elderly lady mowed down the sign with her car. She had no recollection of why or how she did it but sustained no injuries.
So our family theory is that Katie took care of that for Mama. She possessed that old woman’s body and took out that sign. Mama never would have done it for herself but Katie would have done it in a heartbeat.
If you’re grieving, this is really fascinating. I tried an exercise based on what Dr. John Demartini suggested and I feel amazingly better and have a fresh perspective. He claims no one should ever have to grieve more than 3 hours. I’ll see how this works. Of course, I’m not working with him personally, so I probably missed something. But it was incredibly insightful.