When I was 33 years old, and a freshly-minted, deeply-closeted Witch, my evangelical mother died suddenly. We began our story with Death Toll: Passing Away.
Coming to Terms
“Honey, she’s brain-dead. This is it.”
My Aunt Joyce’s words still ring in my memory. My mom is brain dead. Dead. The outer world sort of snaps, twists and shrivels in upon itself so that the only things left are you, the phone, and your connection between left dangling. So this is what is was like to get “the phone call.”
I went hysterical. “Oh no…” I sobbed. My husband held me while I wept. I was reeling. So many conflicting images, thoughts, and repercussions flooded my mind.
She’s not been left a vegetable; so glad I’d called that day; Nate’s too young to remember her; us standing in her garden when I was five; mugs of sweet, hot Lipton tea on cold mornings.
There was no trauma, no suffering. She died alone.
I’ll not get my afghan now, no birthday visits, no more arguments about religion or politics, or conspiracy theories, or health-food; no more vegetable-beef soup dinners in her sun room. No more of her delicious food…
There will be no need for cancer treatment, no nursing home, no expenses, no decline, no dependence on me.
No Mama…my biggest fan, my plan B, my safety net, the one who was always there for me, even when I neglected her, was gone.
My husband suggested I *do* something…you know, spiritual…to help me process things, which was sweet considering he is an atheist with no love at all for my witchery. I carved into a white pillar candle her name, hearts, flowers, crosses, and all my intentions. We anointed it with rosemary oil, lit it and I spoke to her, praying that she’d cross over quickly, gently and go with our love. I reached out with my spirit to connect to hers, following that dangling cord, and seeking to plug it back in–not to her body, but to her Spirit in that limbo that must exist between brain-dead, and physically dead.
A sense of peace swept over me like a big hug. My panic shifted into acceptance and I just knew that Mom was OK. She was still there; I could feel her, peaceful, light, and seeking me out as well. I started to think about how wonderful it was to check out so painlessly. I thought of all she would never have to endure as well as the joys she’d miss. I was bawling like a baby, but I felt comforted and my despair was replaced by a burning sense of what must be done. My fiery Sagittarian Mom, always the hostess with the mostess in life, needed me to finish things off right for her. We had a funeral to plan, and by God, she wanted a nice one! Its like she took hold of me by the third eye and delivered my marching orders: go take care of her final business.
I called my sister, Heather Anne, in Florida to break the news. My feisty Leo sister was so shocked, reeling and angry that I was just accepting her death; she cursed me a blue streak, and hung up on me. I didn’t take it personally; we each grieve in our own way. By the time I called her back, she already had a flight booked and was able to arrive there at 11:00 the next day on the same flight as Skip.
Then, I called my Dad and Step-Mom in Knoxville to tell them. That was even harder. He was as taken aback as I was, and just as distraught –she was younger than him by a few months. They’d been childhood friends, high school sweethearts, married at 19 and for 25 years before divorcing. Back in January, they’d all gathered together at Mom and Skip’s house for a family meal, and so had developed a comfortable relationship between them in recent years.
Saturday morning at the hospital, the neurosurgeon ran many tests to check for brain function and found that there was none. They gave her 0% chance of recovery with 100% brain damage. The ventilator was the only thing keeping her breathing. An aneurysm had ruptured deep inside her brain, flooding the brain cavity, and damaging the tissue completely within a matter of minutes. She’d gone from this life a blink. She always said that she was going to go in “the rapture” and in a way, she was right. That made me strangely happy.
When Skip arrived he had many hard decisions to make. Mom was declared dead by two physicians at 12:10 pm, March 10th, 2007. She was an organ donor, having discussed it at length in the past and truly believing it was the best thing, and she wouldn’t need them in heaven. The organ donation people were gentle and informative, describing how her body could help up to fifty people. She was in such great health, and had medical attention so quickly, that they would be able to harvest everything on the list.
But Skip hadn’t slept in twenty four hours, and had much to come to terms with, so he asked for the night to think on it, and be able to make a clear decision in the morning. He went home and prayed fervently for a sign that cutting off life support, and giving up hope for a miracle, was the right thing to do. When he awoke at dawn, he came out to find that Mom’s crocuses had bloomed in the front flowerbed overnight. My mother was an avid gardener, and her flower beds were her art-form. Skip didn’t know why he chose to do this, but he took the time to count that there were forty-nine deep purple blossoms.
He gets back to the hospital and spends some time at mom’s bedside with the Doctors and family. When the organ donation people come back, they explained that Mom’s heart had some damage after all and they wouldn’t be able to use the whole heart, but the valves were usable. They told him that she could potentially help forty-nine people with the body she’d left behind. Skip had his answer.
Little miracles, whispers and nudges, and out-right possessions by my mom’s Spirit, would continue to guide us as we said our goodbyes and planned her funeral, but that is a story for next time. Stay tuned!
Until then, as part of your Samhain preparations, I encourage you to go to your altars in the quiet darkness, and seek out a connection with some lost loved one. Follow that cord of memory and affection that will connect your hearts throughout all time and space. Light a candle prepared just for them, offer a food or drink they used to enjoy, and speak with them out loud. Ask to be given some small, tangible sign of their continued guidance and protection of you, and their presence in Spirit over the coming days. Ask that their message be gentle, clear and understandable, but that when it happens, it will ring within your consciousness so surely, that you will truly know that Love and Spirit transcend the grave. Magick and miracles are everywhere, for those who have the eyes to see.
When it happens, you’ll know. May it bring you peace.
Until next time,
To continuing reading the next part of the story: Death Toll: Psychic Agent.