A few years ago my mom died. When I was a teenager, she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. For two years she had multiple surgeries, chemo, radiation. And she survived. That was 30 years ago.
One of her chemo drugs was known to have the side effect of causing bladder cancer. I wonder if anyone else has lived long enough to find out if they might get bladder cancer from the chemo drug that helped save her life from ovarian cancer in 1984. I doubt it. My mom was one tough broad. Although I don’t expect my mother would appreciate glowing accolades for how well she handled her illness. I think she thought of herself as hard-working, faithful, and conscientious. It was part science, part doctors, part God, but a lot of her that gave us 30 more years together.
Those extra years ended on August 13, 2014. We had spent a lot of time together the last few months of her life, so when the call came from my brother that she had died somewhat unexpectedly at home, I had no regrets. Last time I saw her, I had my chance to say good-bye, tell her that I love her. We didn’t know she was leaving the earth that day. When do you ever know, truly?
Since her death, I’ve been filled with mostly peace and love and gratitude for the mother I had and the times we had shared. I’ve felt her presence at my parent’s house as well as with me, here in Minnesota. She seems to already be quite busy looking out for all of us. I’ve mostly sensed her being around during the day, but not yet in my dreams.
Until one night in December, four years ago. I dreamt that I was in a house that was “our” house, meaning a house that my parents and my brother and I lived in. However, this was an amazingly beautiful house! Actually, if I was going to design a house with an architect and place it on the seashore in the Pacific Northwest, this would be that house. I was outside, and there was a gorgeous summer sunset beginning. My parents came out of the house, and my dad said that mom wasn’t feeling well and that they would be taking her to the hospital. This was a typical scene played out many times during the last few months of my mom’s life: her having to go to the hospital. In the dream, it was late in the evening, and I was tired, so I said to my mom, “I’m going to rest for a while. Then I will come to the hospital with a bag of whatever you need.”
Then we hugged to say goodbye. This is the point in a dream when you realize you are not just dreaming, but that something else is going on. You either “wake up” in the dream, or a whole other dimension of existence is being afforded to you due to your nocturnal state. As I hugged my mother, I realized that it was her, not a dream version of her, but really her. She said nothing, but embraced me, not only her arms, but with her heart, sharing with me her powerful and luminous unconditional love. I have never felt such love. Ever. I deeply love my partner and my daughter. We share so much love between us. But within this embrace with my mother was an unbounded love of such purity I never knew possible to experience. In the presence of such love, all I could muster was, “Thank you for my life.” Then I awoke, amazed. And I wept, tears filled with the merciful, grace-filled receiving of love.
I have always believed that there was a part of us—the soul, the spirit, consciousness—that lived on after death. It doesn’t take much to convince me of that. The gift I received from this dream with my mother was that the love shared between two people truly never dies. In fact, it can become even more, greater than what it was when either of them were alive. Beyond death, my mother seems to have expanded from her earth-bound self into her primordial, loving soul. I know my mother is in a loving place. I know she is well and more whole than she ever could be on earth. And having received this precious gift of knowing, I will aspire to share even just a portion of the divine, unconditional love that poured through her in our “dream” together.