It is a little story of of my next door neighbour’s, a little story of mine and a bigger one of my Canadian sister-in-law’s. Something brought them all together last week. Maybe it was serendipity, maybe it was love.
My mother was almost 92 when she died suddenly of a stroke and in the months prior I had often contemplated when she might ‘go’ and what life might be like for me without her. I was experiencing what I call premature or early grief and at times I became quite sad. I didn’t really know what these feelings were about until my next door neighbour told me a story about a friend of hers. Her friend’s mother had dementia and was in a nursing home and almost every morning the daughter would visit her mother to dress her and get her ready for the day. When the mother died those who knew the daughter thought she was amazing as she did not seem to be grieving. Everyone thought that as she had been so loving and devoted to her mother that she would ‘go to pieces’. When asked about her grief the woman replied, “I did my grieving in the years I visited my mother nearly every day”.
I have a habit of having pen and paper by my beside so I can capture the whispers from the Universe as they come, usually as I am waking up. Sometimes I put the date on these little pieces of paper and sometimes I just forget. And these slips of paper pile up, waiting for me – for something – some kind of reconnection. Last week on Thursday morning at 4.00 AM I woke up and found myself wide awake. I felt compelled to get out of bed and start sorting out some of these papers. And there I came across one that, unknowingly, I was soon to need. It was not dated, however I knew it was from a time not long before my mother died. The message on that little piece of paper was so, so beautiful – I could never have ‘thought it up’. I kept it aside by placing it on my desk. At 4.00AM in Sydney it was 2.00PM the day before in Toronto, Canada, and as I was to find out later, only a few hours before my Canadian sister-in-law’s step mother, passed to the light.
When my sister-in-law emailed me the news I rang her, and my brother of course, to express my condolences for their loss. My brother was not home, so my sister-in-law and I chatted for quite a while. And in the midst of that conversation she told me this beautiful story.
“In the afternoon of the day my stepmother died I was in a hardware store and had to use the bathroom and when I was in there I heard three sales colleagues talking outside. I wasn’t really listening to what they were saying but then I quite clearly heard one saleswoman say, “I was leaning over my brother just after he died when something, I do not know what, made me look up and I saw my brother standing with my father”.
There is so much beauty to this story because my sister-in-law later shared with me that in the past few weeks her step mother had said she had no fear of dying, that she believed the soul left the body and was reunited with loved ones.
And the message on the little piece of paper I found so early that morning, the one with the message on it about my mother? It was also a message for my sister-in-law and all of us who have lost our mothers and it was this: “If I knew who was waiting for her I would not be sad”.