Note: I wrote this on December 13, 2012, with an update from tonight.
I always wondered what it would be like when one of my parents died. You see people fall apart when their parent dies. They become someone different after the experience. I watched it with my mom, when my grandmother died. I've seen it in other people. I knew it would happen to me, sooner than later. Mom told me she had cancer in 2009. I was at SXSW when she told me. I had a lot of road trip driving to think about what it meant.
I feel like I have a good relationship with death. It is a real friend of mine, whom I use on an almost daily basis to motivate myself to be conscious, aware, to be the person I want to be, to realize my potential. Death and I, we're old friends.
My grandmother, who was the most important person to me, died 7+ years ago. I dreamt her death days before she died. I felt her acquiesce into it through my dreams. I was in a strong personal place, and able to send her off well. When my grandfathers passed, again, I was in a place of power and strength, able to send them off on their next journeys. Back in August, I knew my mom was going this time. I was in denial of course. Until I saw her in Portland in October. The face of death does not lie.
And here I am, barely two months later. What's it been like, this experience of my mom dying?
The last week she was alive, I experienced life very different from my usual way. (I usually live partially in the past, present and future. Past and future give information I frame and interpret in the present to act in the present.) With my mom, I lived 100% in the moment for several weeks. The past, the future, had no meaning. I knew they existed as two bookends, but they were abstract. I knew I would think about them, and visit them again, but in the moment, they did not matter. At one point I was sitting and talking with my mom and her friends and I described my experience like Burning Man, but I wasn't on drugs. There are a variety of experiences that force one to live in the moment. When I perform or put on events, I plan, but the moment comes and the planning ends, performance or execution happens in the present moment. Like last Saturday. The event begins, and you enter into present tense.
Re-entry to everyday life (moving between past and future) was difficult. Much like re-entry to life after a week in the desert. However this re-entry feels harder. There's an echo. And frankly, I continue to reference those moments of presence in October even now.
Part of this is that I have the burden of unraveling another person's material life. I'm sharing this burden with my brother, so this helps; but we each have a lot more than usual going on. My own life is completely unstable - part of this was of my own doing as an attempt to stabilize for a different paradigm (a traveling all over the world for work paradigm).
So that's the material challenge. But there's the emotional.
I've got the usual cocktail of emotions around this, but on top of it all is a lot of anger. Anger at the timing. Anger at me being already in a reduced state due to other set-backs. This anger is compounded by a lack of trust.
Despite this impossible situation, I move forward. But often, each forward step is replied with a push backward.
Fast forward to today - June 16, 2013. Mom's been gone for months. I've had time to get comfortable with her absence. The anger has subsided - as has my focus on unraveling her estate and dealing with the material world.
Last Sunday, her ashes were scattered into the Pacific. With that act, a sense of relief, a weight I did not realize I felt, was lifted.
Sure, I've had moments of missing her. Especially when all her furniture landed out at the Dome. I really wanted to call her to tell her all her stuff arrived. Of course, it's not a phone I could ever make to her alive.
Like my grandmother and aunt who passed before her, I have her, their things. My writing desk was my Great Aunt's. Much of my furniture and cocktail ware was my grandmother's. These things comfort me. They trigger the positive memories of these women - a version of themself in the strange loop of my brain.
I work now to integrate, discriminate, differentiate, decide what I want in my life, as part of my character. It's a strange piece of work; this braiding, dovetailing one life into another. I will be someone different and yet the same after it is done.