On February 24, 1990, Mom’s physical body died of a massive heart attack, releasing her spiritual self fully, no longer tethered and limited by the physical needs and limitations of a flesh -and-blood body. It’s hard to imagine what that moment of release must be like, but I sense that it’s a glorious and wonderful moment of immense joy and love. I hope it was—and is—that way for Mom and for all our loved ones who have loosed their earthly bonds and transcended the physical world.
There are those who believe this physical life is all there is and there’s nothing after the body dies. That’s their personal truth. My personal truth is what C. S. Lewis wrote:
“You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”
It occurred to me earlier that when Mom was alive, our relationship was with both of us in physical form; pretty easy to communicate. Currently, one of us is in a physical body and one of us purely spiritual energy; more challenging to communicate. Eventually, our relationship will be with both of us in purely spiritual form; this will probably be the easiest to communicate, with no egos involved, just pure love. That will be pretty incredible, assuming that I have any of this right at all. It’s just something I got a sense of earlier and it seemed like an interesting thought to consider.
Senses – For those who are sensitive to such things, have you ever noticed that sometimes a scent, or a taste, or a touch of breeze can suddenly bring to mind someone who has crossed over? For me, it’s often through my senses that I get a sense of a loved one’s presence. Sometimes, though, there’s no obvious trigger that causes me to sense someone. I’ll be doing something random and my Tia will pop into my head and cause me to smile, sensing her love and maybe smelling her tortillas on the stove. On Saturday, one of my little cousins was wearing a dress with a bow in back and I sensed my Tio Luis and remembered—as if it was happening in present time—how I always preferred that he tie the bow on my dress as a little girl. His brown workman’s fingers were gnarled and twisted; that’s just the way I always knew them, even when he was playing piano. I didn’t know what arthritis was and never really gave a thought as to why his fingers were like that. But with those crooked, bent fingers he’d take his time and tie a big, full, absolutely perfectly straight bow on my dress. Gorgeous!
I took flowers to the cemetery on Sunday to honor my mom and the anniversary of her passage. A lot of people don’t like cemeteries; many say we should bring flowers while our loved ones are still alive. I did bring Mom flowers, and other gifts, too, during her world life. (I read that the Sufis distinguish between “world life” and “soul life.”) One of the first gifts I chose and bought for her was a small plastic statue of the Virgin bought from the religious goods store after catechism one Saturday morning. In my mind, I can still see it on the windowsill where it sat for years and years. Over time, we used to buy one another “for no reason” gifts; I’d see a vase I think she’d like, she’d see a sweater perfect for me. (She was always trying to get me to wear a sweater.)
Since she’s living her soul life, though, I can’t buy her a Mother’s Day card or a vase or a pair of earrings. (What use would she have for these anyway?) But I can honor her by taking flowers to the place where we buried the body she used to hold me, to kiss me, to care for me and for all she loved. And I can sit in the sun, scrubbing her headstone with love and respect, spraying it with polish and rubbing and rubbing until the stone is gleaming. I can clear out the overgrown grass and leaves, put fresh water in the container and trim the flower stems to fit. I can kneel and pray and thank her for her presence in my life, for the way she taught me about the Divine and about love, and good times with family and friends. I can let the sun warm my skin … and I can sense her presence when I feel the breeze unexpectedly growing stronger and running through my hair as I kneel and pray—a caress from my mom, my beloved mom. My heart fills with love.