59: Sojourn of the Spirit

59: Sojourn of the Spirit

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

Sojourn of the Spirit

Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

~Author Unknown

It was a cold, gray morning in March when I woke to the phone ringing. My heart sank. I knew it would not be good news.

“Mom has taken a turn for the worse,” my sister Nancy said, speaking in a soft voice. “She’s been moved to hospice.”

Within twenty-four hours, Mom had five of her six children at her side in Aurora, Colorado. My older brother Michael traveled from Santa Fe, New Mexico, my younger brother Richard traveled from Michigan, and I came in from New York. The eldest, Rose, living in California, was unable to be with us. My two younger sisters, Nancy and Diane were living in Colorado near Mom.

As adults, we had always lived in different states, and as the years went on we got together less and less. It would be good to see each other, but not for this reason. Our life as a family had been a patchwork of good times and bad, ups and downs. We had our share of problems, not unlike other families, but we came together for Mom and for each other.

The hospice center was beyond wonderful and I knew Mom was in good hands. As she drifted in and out of consciousness, the nurses met her every need and treated her like a dear friend, giving us a great deal of comfort.

When I tried to speak to Mom, she looked my way, but with vacant eyes. I feared she was unreachable. The nurse encouraged me to continue talking to her, “The sense of hearing is often the last thing to go,” she said, squeezing my hand.

We gathered around Mom’s bed and talked about happy and sad times . . . laughing, crying, venting. Then we each took turns having private moments with her. I told her over and over that she was beautiful and that I loved her and would miss her every day. I sensed once again that she was slipping into an unreachable darkness. Somehow I felt her fear. “Take me with you,” I gently whispered in her ear. “If only in spirit, I will be forever by your side.”

Mom’s priest was called and we gathered around her and prayed. She was still struggling. as if she wanted to say or do something, but couldn’t.

“Tell her to let go,” the priest gently said. “She needs to hear it from all of you. She needs to know it’s okay.”

We each told her we were going to be fine, that she deserved to let go. That she deserved to be at peace. Still she struggled.

“Tell her you forgive her,” the priest continued. “Ask for forgiveness in return, for whatever transgressions that may have taken place.” We all looked at each other and knew in our hearts the priest was right. One by one we forgave her and asked for her forgiveness. Mom finally drifted into a calmer state. Incredibly, within a matter of minutes she slipped away softly, peacefully. Without saying it, we knew that forgiving Mom and asking her forgiveness in return was what released her. It was a powerful moment that left us silent and reflective.

Afterward, we each dealt with the loss in our own way. Michael and Diane went out to make phone calls. Richard, Nancy and I went into the family lounge. Richard slipped into the recliner as Nancy fell onto the couch. Exhausted, I sat at a table and put my head down and closed my eyes. My journey began.

I soared high above snow-capped mountains that were glistening so bright they took my breath away. Suddenly, without warning, I was driven into the earth; layers of dark soil splitting before me. I came out into bright light and looked upon a field of wildflowers dancing in the breeze. Their purple and blue colors were so vibrant, I know of nothing on this earth to compare. I was taken up, once again, high into the sky with nothing but luminous rays of light surrounding me. At that moment in time, a sense of stillness and serenity washed over me. I was at peace.

I opened my eyes and sat straight up. I noticed my brother looking at me and my sister rubbing her eyes.

“I had the most incredible dream,” I said, looking at the two of them.

My sister calmly said, “Were you taken into the earth with layers of soil splitting before you?”

My brother’s eyes widened as he spoke, “And did you soar above purple and blue wildflowers?”

Our mother had taken my brother, sister and me on her journey. In so doing, we knew she was safe, pain-free and in the loving arms of her God. And we were left with an indescribable feeling of tranquility and peace. Our mother gave us a gift. She took us with her just as I had asked.

I shared this experience at my mother’s funeral as I gave the eulogy. Afterward, our family physician approached me and asked if I knew how lucky I was.

“In my practice,” she said, looking at me intently, “I have heard stories similar to yours. Compelling stories — tangible, yet unexplainable. It truly was a blessing that you and your siblings were privileged to have had such a miraculous experience.”

I believe, in the end, it’s all about loving others and loving ourselves. Loving enough to forgive.

What I know for sure is the uncertainty I had while my mother was dying turned to calm and happiness after our journey. Ever since, more often than not, I have a vase of flowers on my dining room table. I always look for purple and blue wildflowers.

~Linda Ann Feist

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