What My Mother's Death Represents for Me
I will never forget the words and the call I received at 1:30 a.m. on September 14, 2018. It will forever be embedded in my mind & soul hearing my brother say, “Mom’s dead.”
Until you’ve gotten a call like that, you could never understand how it feels. Especially when it’s unexpected.
I’m about 2 weeks into my grieving, and things are just now starting to be processed. I still have days where I cry & sob uncontrollably.
I didn’t even think I could write this so soon - I knew I would eventually.
Tonight, I started to answer the question posed to me by me and for me, “what does her death mean for me?”
I wanted to share the answers that immediately came.
Perspective on Death
The few days after my Mom passed at only 55 years old, I struggled with my own sanity. I had never felt pain like that, and I wasn’t myself. Not only did I pray, meditate, and seek the Word of God, I also went to my go-to spiritual teachers to see what they had to teach on the topic of death, because the only person remotely close to me I had lost previously was my Mom’s father - my Papa - back in 1996. Grief hadn’t struck me in years, and that loss wasn’t even close to this at all.
I didn’t know how to deal with it.
I discovered a chapter in Eckhart Tolle’s book (chapter 9), A New Earth, called “Death & The Eternal”. It has to be one of the most gorgeous explanations of death I’ve ever heard. And it brought me so much peace. I listened to it multiple times that first week.
What I gained from this so far, and what impacted me the most, is the understanding that the opposite of death isn’t life, it’s birth. Life is eternal.
Even though I knew this, I had never heard it THAT way. It changes the perspective for me entirely.
I wanted to read this at my Mom’s funeral, but it was too long. I’m happy to share it here.
The other teaching in this video that gripped me is at about the 10:30-minute mark where he explains that, the only reason we can know there is something beyond us that’s more eternal is because we can recognize it, period. The awareness we can even recognize the ending of life forms proves that within us is an awareness of something beyond those life forms.
If this life was truly all there is, in other words, there wouldn’t be a question or even an awareness that this life is fleeting. The mere fact we have that awareness means there’s at least its opposite - something that isn’t this life form.
The color blue is known as blue because there are thousands of other colors that aren’t like it. So it’s easy to identify blue, because we know there’s other colors that are not blue, and we recognize what they are and how they’re distinct.
To me, this is so much more explanatory and deep than merely saying or understanding there is a God and some eternity beyond this life, which is fine to say, but general, at best. I like the analysis of this explanation, and it brings me even deeper peace than knowing what I just stated. It’s a whole other level of understanding.
So for me, my Mom’s death now represents a MUCH deeper understanding & comfort with the concept of death & life I didn’t have before 2 weeks ago.
Absence of the fear of death
2 weeks ago, if you would’ve asked me one of my greatest fears in life, I would’ve answered with death for sure.
Today, that is no longer the case. I realized last week that in an instant, that fear has been extinguished through my Mother’s passing. I no longer fear something I have feared my whole life.
I don’t know how to dissect that it no longer is a fear or how it even formed in the first place - I just know it’s no longer there.
The pursuit of peaceful living
It’s interesting. About a month prior to my Mom’s passing, I had done a face-lift to the website and felt a guiding strongly to begin to lean into the gift of providing a space for grounded and peaceful living - the words now found on the homepage of this site.
A few nights ago, I spent about 30 minutes flipping through my Mom’s Bible that I now own. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, yet I noticed repeatedly, her underlining & highlighting scriptures about, or having to do with, peace.
I’m an analyst by day, so this didn’t escape my attention, and it was concurrent with a theme I knew was going on in her mind & soul for the past few years. She was a peace-seeker like me - she valued it highly. Like me, she loved it and craved it.
It’s the main reason I disconnect so easily from relationships that feel damaging, abrasive, aren’t reciprocal, or carry unrealistic expectations. It’s why I spend money on beautifying my home & space that others might label as ‘vain’. It’s why I need floral arrangements, creative writing, and candles in all of my environments. I love peace.
I don’t do drama, and I lead a quiet life as much as it depends on me. (I Thessalonians 4:11)
My Mother was the same.
My Aunt Esther told me the last time my Mom was at her house, she sat in her living room and verbally mentioned to her how peaceful her home felt. She loved it there.
So in my Mom’s honor, I will continue to not only seek peace, but relentlessly guard it in my spirit, my heart, and my home, for her sake as well as my own.
I’ve had countless people tell me my voice in my podcasts is soothing to them and brings relaxation, so I will continue to teach through this medium in the spirit of this topic. I know that it’s a gift I carry, so I will continue to use it to edify those who listen.
I was raised by my parents in the church - in a very religious, set way of seeking God. Many of those tenants remain with me - some of them just simply don’t.
And, oddly enough, this was one of the most beautiful, aligned aspects of mine & my Mom’s relationship. We were both spiritual seekers, but not totally in the way either of us were taught to be. Because we had grown together over the years, we had a mutual understanding and development in our spiritual lives that were always gorgeously parallel. I always loved that!
But early in my Mom’s life (when I was a girl), this wasn’t the case.
In my perspective, the way I was brought up to seek God could be compared to walking into a small building of any kind, closing the door behind you and saying, “okay, you are expected to and can grow as much as you want within these 4 walls (aka, within ______ doctrine & beliefs). But do not travel outside those walls or it can no longer be considered growth - now, you’re labeled as “lost” or “backslidden” because you’ve deviated or explored outside of the boundaries. Don’t explore anything outside the realm of the Bible, because that’s the only place God is.
Now, maybe that wasn’t anyone’s intention, but that’s how it translated to me. And in my adult life, I don’t dig that.
It’s literally the most ridiculous mentality I’ve ever heard. Oxymoron if I ever heard one.
How could these “leaders” profess a God who is infinite, yet in the same breath put restrictions on what seeking that infinite presence looks like - defining that it has to follow their protocol or set of standards? Implying that God is in one single belief system or religion, and that THAT religion is the “right” one is outlandish to me. Isn’t the mere definition of “infinite” that it can never fully be sought out? God wasn’t created for your box or set of interpretations. Not finite (infinite) to me means that it’s a never-ending quest of discovery.
To me, this conflicting mentality is the very definition of hypocrisy. And frankly, I’m not interested in living that way.
What I AM interested in - and my Mom was too - is seeking God while and where He may be found. And to me, that means exploring as MUCH of God in this bodily form as possible - in the Bible AND in other books, in my experiences AND in others, in numerous religious belief systems, and through every mode others say they’ve experienced Him. No matter how messy that looks, how much it doesn’t make sense to the next seeker, or how close to the edges it may seem. At least I’m seeking & curious. At least if I DO find something I don’t agree with, I’ve explored why I don’t. At least if I DO filter something out, I understand why I did.
Holistic spirituality. Wholesome understanding. Total and complete consciousness about my beliefs. Resonance. Agreement. Analysis. Depth.
You can ask half the people on this planet who practice religious actions why they don’t believe something and most of the time, they can’t even tell you; they can always rattle off why they DO. I don’t know about you, but that’s my definition of prison. I not only need & desire to understand why I hold the beliefs I do, but why I don’t hold the ones I don’t.
My Mom and I had the BEST convos about this - how God is so much more than what we find in 4 walls or one single book, how it HAS to matter when we’re born, at what time, and where. How the moon & the cycles of the planets somehow HAVE to matter or else, why create them in the first place? Do we think God to be sporadic, miscalculated, and passive with purpose?
We loved to seek together, and we loved to find together. And we did so often - we’d share our revelations & questions with each other in videos, phone calls, text messages, and through email. It was one of the central themes of our connection.
I will miss this the most, because there are VERY few people I know who seek on this level or share my values and beliefs in this realm - who also understand the incredible power of inquiry in spiritual seeking. My Mother understood - she got it.
I’ll continue to do the things she raised me were right, but only because I ALSO have found them to be true - she wanted me to seek my own truths & be solid in them, and I wanted that for her too. I’ll continue to explore God everywhere I see Him, filter through what doesn’t make sense, and share my revelations with her in prayer or journals now that she’s not physically here. This will NEVER leave me - it’s a part of me.
I’m so grateful my Mom was such a stellar example of seeking. I love her SO much for instilling in me this fire and passion for continuously seeking God in every way possible.
Finally, my Mom’s death represents her legacy, and the greatest way I’ve ever heard legacy described is this:
Legacy is not what you leave FOR people; it’s what you leave IN people.
No truer words have ever been spoken. Our legacy can be in material things, such as businesses, cars, wardrobes, or the like. But what real legacy entails is the life lessons, experiences provided, and influence a person had on your life when they’re gone. What’s left within you is what’s most felt.
What did they sow into you? THAT’S what’s most impacting.
I would say the things my Mom instilled in me that are HER legacy are things like:
Independence. Perhaps my Mother never dreamed she had raised me to be SO independent; I think it drove her nuts sometimes. But I am fiercely independent in my life thanks to her.
Loving others & service. This woman served and served and served. She served churches & staff for years. She served anyone under her leadership. She served her husbands. She served her children and led them. She did her best to see the good in people - sometimes to her detriment, which we have in common. But she taught me the love language of acts of service. She embodied it.
Loving God, as I eluded to above.
That the most important thing to her ever in her life was her kids. She said this repeatedly to us. We were her priority in her life. My Mom & I differed in many ways and had our rough patches, but believe & know we were always good, regardless. And she was my biggest fan. I feel that loss greatly. She never forgot to send a card on Valentine’s Day, for my birthday, and for Christmas. She wanted to make sure I felt loved & cared for at all times. She was a great Mother.
I love & miss you, Mommy. And I can’t wait to see you again someday.
Photo by Jack Ward on Unsplash | Photo by Mitch Lensink on Unsplash | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash