My mom used to say that a house  was not a home unless there was a marriage, a birth and even a death completing the circle of a home’s history.

She told me this to comfort me or perhaps she truly believed it, when we were moving into our new house in Beverly Hills. I was in the 6th grade and death was not something that I had any experience with. Even the  fact that someone died peacefully and of old age in our new home gave me some unease. My mom magically put my fear factor at bay with her one simple explanation.

When mom was passing from this life to the next stage, whatever that next stage is, my sister and I tried so hard to do the right thing. We didn’t want to upset her by our impending sorrow; we worried it would keep her fighting to stay on the side of the living. We were afraid to openly share how much we would miss her, how deeply and tangibly pained we were going to be in a very short amount of time. We knew that it was only a matter of hours before we no longer could hold her soft hand.

We didn’t truly and openly have the opportunity to talk to mom about her own death. She didn’t want to face it, didn’t want to discuss it. Perhaps she just didn’t want to die! She was 90 and we told her of her cancers reoccurrence; the hospice people tried a more direct approach and yet, it we never mentioned that Mom wouldn’t live forever.

During those days of the bed side vigil, my sister and I shared stories; Lisa on one side holding one hand, me on the other, moms hand in mine.

Oddly enough some of this was even enjoyable, if you can believe it, because my sister’s  youthful memory isn’t profound and so we got to relive our childhood without mom interrupting! She who always had to be the center of attention was still indeed that but she wasn’t talking now. But,  she WAS listening.

Sis and I got to laugh about funny stories, amaze one another with the courage our mom had in the face of adversity; financial, emotional and simply the multi faceted levels of being a single mom.

We sang songs of our childhood, looking up the lyrics and amazingly finding them on Google. And then I thought it might be comforting to sing the Lullaby mom sang to me as a baby and that I in turn sang to my baby when she needed sleep or comforting.

That was a tall order. It took every fiber of my being to sing the words to my dying mother. I sang loud and proud and hit the high notes without a tear, without audibly wavering. I knew instinctually she needed it, that she could hear me. This singing of this simple song with the many variations that I’ve created over the years was the most difficult task of my adult life. I didn’t want to cry while singing. I wanted to be strong, sing clearly and reach my mom, deep in that divide between our here and her next beyond.

The Hospice Nurse listened and watched as I sang and then my sister pointed to a stream of tears that crawled down mom’s cheek. I had indeed reached her. It was a profound moment.

What I find now, almost more profound and absolutely filling me with distraught is the fact that I never got to say the real words I wanted to say. I never had the courage to tell mom, to say that I knew she was dying and to tell her how very much I’d miss her.

It is a tricky business helping a soul fly away. It’s challenging to know what’s right, what it is that the dying person needs at this gigantic fork on the path to the next world.

Mom’s passing was peaceful, quiet with my sister and I  at her side, loving her on her way.

Mom, I miss you.

Wedding Day

Wedding Day