“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure“– Unknown
“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality” – Emily Dickinson
Mother tiptoed away in the dark and drowsy wee hours of the morning when most are enveloped in slumber. Sleeping a rare sleep, one so deep and luxurious, I fought waking like a Grizzly Bear might fight to extend her winter’s hibernation.
What had began as a faint irritation far off in the distance; the ring tone of the phone gradually became louder and more insistent. Failing to reach the phone in time, I hit “redial” and was connected to Research Medical Center’s stroke unit in Kansas City. Mother was in Cardiac Arrest; the nightshift docs were giving CPR. They wanted to know my wishes, should they continue?
Fighting my desire to sink back into the depths of night and trying to kick start my thinking brain, the first words I could muster, with lots of pauses in between, were “Well … Hmmm … She has a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order)…” Their response: “Do you want us to stop the CPR then?” Me: “Hmmm …..well …., she has a DNR so ummm, … Yes, I guess you should stop.”
There was not even a full minute to mull over or think through the ramifications of this decision, not a second to grasp or to cling. A decision was needed that very moment; it could not be undone and would change everything. Mom had tiptoed away after a stroke four days earlier. She had been playing the piano.
The day after the funeral, I visited mom’s grave. As I started down the lane to the family plot, I noticed a young deer literally dancing, a young prancing doe dancing as if to a lovely melody.
Mind you, I know Mount Moriah cemetery. I’ve been there for funerals and each year to commemorate Memorial Day with mother; decorating the graves of family members on both sides from her stash of colorful plastic flowers. I had never seen a deer in all my years there.
I knew immediately this dancing playful deer was my mother’s spirit, now set free. Mother was showing me her spirit – joyful and boundless, free from her paralyzed by stroke and pain-filled body.
Another ‘sign’ from mom came once I had arrived back in Tucson and started back to work. Quite extraordinarily, in broad daylight, a mother javelina and her baby curled up and sleeping for hours with their noses pressed against my office window.
My mother’s death unfolded perfectly, for her and for me. Given the chance, I would not rewrite this memory. It’s a perfect memory of my mother’s perfect life song.
By Holly Baker