When I was speaking to her she was “ma”. When I was speaking about her she was “my mama” as though I had to make it known that she belonged to me. Whenever we were in some place with thick crowds and elevated noise levels she became, “DIANNE!” Two Ns please. She is my mother. She was such a devoted mother, caring not only for us, her children, but for all of those around her. She was the person everyone would call before upcoming doctor’s appointments and to inquire on the follow up. She was the person they called to diagnose their symptoms, investigate prescriptions, and recommend a treatment. That is because my mother was also a nurse. She was the one who helped others get better; to me she was everything that I aspired to be. . . impenetrable strength even in her weakest moments.
It was difficult to watch my ma lying frail, weak, and helpless in her bed waiting for death; no longer the fierce fighter that I once knew. An almost inexplicable feeling of hurt and anger filled me. I felt like we were the victims, my brothers and I. I felt like she was betraying us by giving up and giving in to cancer. Yes, this is what I, my ego wanted to believe, but the divine part of me knew better. My mother was simply exhausted. Something that I could vouch for as I had witnessed her fight my entire life, never truly recovering from each bloody battle.
In her last days, my mother lie bedridden, unable to speak and barely able to move. In those moments, I sat next to her or at least I tried to for as often and as long as I could. I could barely stand to be in the same house let alone sit beside her in the same room. It hurt way too much that sometimes it became truly unbearable. I’d walk out in tears and tell her I would be back, but more often than not, I wouldn’t return.
On the Saturday before my mom passed, I wrote her a letter. In the letter, I wrote all the reasons why she was such a great mother and that it was ok to let go because she deserved heaven. I needed to do that for both of us. I didn’t want to be that person that never got to say the things I truly wanted to say when the opportunity was there. And even though I did write this letter, I could have still been this person as it took me almost two days to find the strength to read this letter to my mother. As she could not speak and barely move, I was more concerned with my reaction than I was hers. Although she was transitioning to the divine, she was still human and it would truly benefit her soul to hear what I had to say. I know certainly, it did my own.
I cried and prayed every night. On Monday, as the sun set, I sat alone in the dark slumped over the side of my grandmother’s sofa dreading the inevitable. My Aunt Annie, my uncle Ernest wife, found me and asked me to stand. She gave be a really tight hug. She whispered to me, “I see you trying to be strong.” She sat next to me and put her arms around me as I leaned on her shoulder. She was right; I was doing everything I possibly could to muster up some sort of something that resembled strength. My aunt took my hand as she sat beside me on the sofa and begin telling me the story of when she lost her own mother. Nontraditional words of encouragement I desperately needed to hear.
The following morning, Tuesday, I read that letter to my mother. I cried so much but I wanted. . .no, I needed her to know how wonderfully she would be missed. I sat with my mom for most of the day. We listened to her favorite songs. All the ones she used to sing to me and one of her more recent favorites, Blame It On Me by Chrisette Michele, on repeat. I believe I even heard her try to sing it. I left the room only because there were others waiting to see her. I told her I would return but in keeping with my newest habit, I did not. Later I sent my daughter in to say goodbye to grandma. I had no clue but I feel my soul knew that it would be the final one, and I just did not have the courage to say any such final farewells.
My mother ascended that evening in the twilight hours of Wednesday morning on June 27th 2012. My aunt came to the room where I was sleeping to let me know. There was a double rainbow that day. I like to think that means something very important in the world of spirituality and crossing over. I now know that a double rainbow symbolizes a transformation. In that, I can’t help but wonder if the transformation was my mother’s or my own.
I grew a lot that day, more in those few days than I had in the entire almost 27 years that I’ve been on Earth. It’s true what they say, in the face of death, your entire life flashes before your eyes, even when the pending death is not your own.
It is in these moments that I realized my life isn’t so whole after all. Many things came into perspective.
Black Butterfly by Denise Williams. My mother sang this song in high school. She was a beautiful songstress. If you’ve not ever heard this song you should listen to it. My mother is Dianne and today is her birthday. She would have been 49 years old.