It would take a very long time to tell you about all the gifts my mother gave me in the 60 years she was on this earth, but maybe the most precious gift was the one she gave me a few moments after she passed.
She had been very ill and the veins leading to her kidneys were all but gone. She needed a 9 hour operation to reconstruct the veins, which was a success, but she would need to be on dialysis for the rest of her life. The next year was one complication after the other; the shunt that was placed in her chest to connect to the dialysis machine was moved to her arm. It became infected and her arm had swollen to about 5 times its size. They fixed that and her blood pressure skyrocketed to the point of her nearly having a stroke. The medication she was on gave her vertigo and terrible side effects. One day her doctor said her kidneys were nearly 100% again and took her off dialysis, but then every week she needed to go to the hospital when her lungs filled with fluid. On and on...finally, she seemed to just retreat within. She was in intensive care, and she no longer responded to anyone. When you spoke to her she would look at you with such a confused look on her face and just repeat what you said. And the rest of the time she would just let out this helpless cry. We'd hear it the minute we got off the elevator of the hospital.
One night after a visit, I was so drained. Before going to sleep I had a "soul-to-soul" talk with my mom. I told her I don't think I can take this anymore. My sister and I were both getting emotionally and physically sick from the pain of seeing her this way. "Please, ma, please. We love you so much. Please come back".
The next day, we didn't hear her cries when we got off the elevator, and when we entered her room she looked right at us! She took a hold of my hand with both her hands, kept smiling, and looked deep in my eyes. She knew us! She was talking and though she still looked somewhat confused, she was back!! No one will ever convince me she didn't hear me the night before. She had been through so much and it was probably so much easier for her to retreat within, but her babies were hurting, and they came first. With my mom, we always, ALWAYS came first. She looked so terribly frail, but she seemed in great spirits and kind of peaceful.
Then, the original operation apparently developed an infection and they needed to do another surgery, this time it took 7 hours. My sister and I had just gotten back from the hospital, and I was down the block at my mom's house, when I got a call from my sister.
~~But here I need to regress for a moment and tell you about a sort of near-death experience I had when I was a teenager. I was eating chocolate pudding and my sister was telling my mom a joke. When I laughed, some of the pudding apparently lodged in my windpipe and I could barely get any air. We were all still laughing at the joke, and now the wierd noise I was making when suddenly there was no more noise~I wasn't getting any air at all. Suddenly, the laughter stopped and I'll never forget the terror in my mom's face. She is yelling my name and pounding really hard on my back, but I don't really feel it. She told me later I was already turning blue, but what I felt was just amazing. I had become completely weightless, like I was floating, and had the feeling of such incredible peace and joy that I can't adequately describe because it's like nothing I've ever felt. Suddenly, she gave me one heck of a whack and I was back, coughing and teary eyed. It gave them quite a scare, but it gave me a tiny glimpse of what it feels like when you die.
So, on with the story~~
The hospital just called. My mom had taken a sudded turn for the worst and they couldn't save her. "Mommy died." She could barely get the words out. I told her I'd be right there, and just collapsed. I was sobbing so hard my entire body was quaking. "Are you ok now, ma?" I asked outloud, eyes squeezed shut, looking up to heaven ~~ And at that moment, that very second, the crying just stopped. Period. My body completely stopped shuddering and I once again felt that incredible sense of peace and joy I felt when I had choked as a teenager, except magnified a thousandfold. My mother not only answered my question, her soul came into mine and showed me. I had always thought how sad not having a body would be - not being able to hug anyone, but my mom showed me how you hug in "heaven", and my God, I wish I could show you how it feels, because words just don't do justice.
We never doubted how much our mother loved us in life and as tremendous as it was, this eternal soul-love is even deeper and fuller and just indescribable. What I'd always suspected, and now know, is that loved ones are never gone, that they are with you always, and in some ways even closer than in life. I know because of my mom's gift.
Mom left this earth in 1988. I still miss her and sometimes I just wrap my arms around myself, close my eyes, and imagine she's holding me. But many times I feel her around me, like I do right now, and I never wonder if life goes on, or fear death, or think I'll miss hugs when I "go home". Because she's hugging me right now, and smiling. We both understand now(her more than me, judging from the "feel" of her smile) that there is no reason for regrets, because life doesn't end. What happened or didn't happen in physical existance was exactly what needed to happen or not happen for everyone involved. Nothing is ever left unsaid, because the conversation continues, the love continues, and everything else just drifts away like a dream because that's all everything else ever was.