My mother had already been in hospice for more than a year when I received an out of state call one Friday afternoon from my sister Nancy. She told me that Mom wasn’t expected to make it through the weekend.
Once Mom’s illness had transitioned into late stage dementia, Nancy moved Mom out to be with her in Colorado. My mother’s rapid decline was occurring at the same time my husband Richard was entering into his own late stage dementia back in our home state of Minnesota.
I knew from the conversation with Nancy that I couldn’t possibly make it to Colorado in time to be there at Mom’s bedside. But the rational side of my thinking wasn’t helping my emotional side at all. I had been at my father’s death bed when he passed away in Minnesota just a few years before. Still I remember how hard it was on my sister that she couldn’t be back with us at the time.
All weekend I was tense as Nancy and I exchanged multiple phone calls. By Sunday, we’d been told by the doctor “it was a just matter of hours.” I felt I had to do something to keep my head straight and my body busy.
Weather wise, it had been a gorgeous day with bright blue skies and near perfect temps. I knew there was a 5:00-6:00 pm yoga class scheduled nearby so I decided to attend. As I drove up to the club, I was hoping the session would be held outside on the deck overlooking beautiful and very peaceful marsh land. I was glad to see the teacher was already putting down the pink, blue, and green mats outside just as I stepped out of the car.
I couldn’t help but remember how Mom loved nothing more than being outside on a beautiful day. However, I was also wondering if I might lose Mom while there in that yoga class. I tried very hard to stay focused on the breathing instructions the instructor was giving, but of course my thoughts kept going back to Mom.
Near the end of the class, we did a relaxing yoga pose called shavasana where students lay down flat on their backs. Normally I’d be falling into a nap at this point, but not on that special day. Instead I looked up at the sky, listening quietly to the birds in the distance.
I soon saw something cardinal red in color floating up higher and higher into that miraculous blue sky. Was it a balloon or a satellite I wondered?
Or maybe even an angel?
A tear suddenly rolled down my cheek. And yet I felt very much at peace.
Afterwards I went directly home to check my emails. I had a message from my brother-in-law. He wrote that Mom had passed away exactly at 6pm, just as the class ended.
My sister called me later from the hospital and told me that when Mom passed, she saw a single tear had rolled down Mom’s cheek, just like mine.
I awoke early this Mother’s Day, the first one with out Mom. I checked in on the cardinal’s nest right outside my window. I saw the baby birds had moved on and were flying into the sky.
I left my cozy nest also and then drove to a special yoga class honoring all mothers.
And once there I shared a special gift with my own mother of just one more salty tear.