Is what my highest self yells out, in the same way I would encourage any one of the amazing women on our retreat to take their first ride. In fact, all of our POWER words apply when dealing with the ups and downs of life — breathe, believe, and be brave — but when our worlds are tipped upside down, somehow we lose that connection to what’s important.
It all started when my mom fell and broke her hip. The doctors advised our immediate family to get to Florida as soon as possible to be with my mom, because she experienced a bad reaction to the anesthesia; they thought she was going to pass away. Inside (and maybe out loud) I screamed “DIE?! How could this happen from a fall that broke her hip? HOW? What the f*%k is happening?”
Those first 2 weeks were so intense. My experience was an unsustainable whirlwind of fear-based emotions. I was on a rollercoaster from hell (Side note: I hate amusement park rides, especially roller coasters), but after 12 days, which felt like an eternity, my mom came around.
Yep, right out of blue, she snapped out of whatever was keeping her in limbo-land, chose life over death, and started down the path of healing.
During this time, I had abandoned all acts of self-care and love which left me feeling like I was hit by a massive truck, so when the doctors said her healing would be a minimum of 4-6 weeks, I knew something had to change. After cutting myself off from anyone besides my Mom, Dad, siblings, and doctors, I decided it was time to ask for help. I called a dear friend, bursting immediately into tears and babbling my story. The first thing she asked was, “What are you doing to care for yourself? Are you eating properly? Doing yoga? Meditating?” While I’m screaming ‘NO, of course I’m not,’ she continued to say, “How can you show up for your Mom and Dad if you can’t even take care of yourself?”
BOOM – the awakening happened and I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
She reminded me that my daily practice of yoga, meditation, and nutrition is easy when things are unfolding beautifully in life, but are most important when the ride gets rough. She reminded me that I have a back pocket full of tools to use to help me get through this and that it was time to breathe. Inhale, exhale….
So why is it that when things get tough, we tend to abandon everything that’s good for us? It can’t be just me.
The next day I made self care my top priority by incorporating meditation, yoga, and nutrition into my day along with creating a balanced schedule that would allow me to work and care for my Mom and Dad. Needless to say, it was my saving grace.
Witnessing a normal functioning healthy woman with a mild case of dementia digress to being wheelchair bound with advanced dementia and needing 24-hour total care is the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever experienced. This is my mom and she has digressed to an infant in an adult body — can you imagine? However, by making time for self-love and care, I was able to show up with a different frame of mind, unconditionally, with no expectations of how the day would unfold. Some days my mom was great and motivated to heal, but most she was lost to advanced dementia and not able to do anything for herself or communicate, let alone learn to walk again.
It was then that I realized what she truly needed was love. So my practice or mission was to show up with an open heart, ready to love her unconditionally.
I detached from any type of outcome in order to stay present and love her.
I didn’t know how much longer she had, so I cherished every moment.
With clarity of mind, I recognized and honored that this was her journey and it was going to unfold however it was meant to be.
I simply had to let go and find bliss in what was panning out to be a ride from hell. There was no other choice.
Weeks passed and then out of the blue, the possibility of death crept back in. We all know that birth is followed by a lifetime of experiences, eventually followed by death. In my heart, I have no doubt that spiritual connection with all living beings, human or other, exists. It’s not tangible and yet it feels incredibly powerful. So, the thought of someone dying and knowing without a doubt they go on living energetically helps ease the sense of loss… That is until the death of my mother is staring me in the face.
“Breathe Lulu, breathe!” whispers my higher self. “Be brave,” she continues. “You can run and shut down or you can tap into your inner strength and stay present with an open heart.” My brave soul encouraged me to stay, but the truth (let it be known) is that not in my wildest dreams did I think I had the strength to hold someone’s hand while they were dying….let alone my own Mother’s.
The last 4 days were winding down. My mom had hospice by her side, was eased with injections of morphine, and I’m feeling braver than ever. I’m now meditating by her side, whispering sweet nothings in her ear, holding her hand, and hugging her as if it’s going to be the last. I share my gratitude practice openly with her. I play her favorite music and sing along. She’s blissed out, and occasionally she makes her presence known through a sigh or a quiet moan. I tap into the spiritual realm that I call home and encourage her to be brave and, when she’s ready, to go to the light. I am fully present, my heart is full gratitude, and I’m honored to be by her side even though I am consumed with the deepest grief. Then, I was witness to her physical body dying and her soul separating. She took her last breath and we were then left with this shell.
I sat there, staring and not believe what I’m seeing. This is no longer my mother — it’s just a body. Her essence is gone. She has gone to the light, leaving us behind with a sadness that words can’t describe.
Somehow by sharing this story, I hope to inspire you to live more fully and completely. Everyone will experience and process death and loss in their own unique way, so I leave you with these messages that I learned from being by Mom’s side. Until death do us part….
1.) The only thing that will prepare you for the death of a dear one is to live in the absolute moment, without any regrets. Coincidentally, each death will remind you to live — and you will be reminded over and over again because death is unavoidable.
So, in the end, it boils down to living a life led by love, or a life led by fear. More than ever I feel this urgency to encourage you to live life to its fullest capacity. By fullest capacity, I mean living with a big, open heart and filling up on moments that bring you the most bliss. Connect — big time — with all those that you love. Embrace the moment and tell someone how much you love them, followed by a big heartfelt hug or written letter expressing how their presence makes your life even better.
2.) Our body is our temple that hosts our soul. Your soul is your true essence. Make time to nurture your soul as much as you do your body. YOU are one hell of a unique human being that needs to be celebrated daily. Which leads me to one of my favorite quotes:
Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
You’re playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
What can you do today to nurture your soul? What can you do today to let your own light shine? What acts of self-love can you offer yourself to sustain the ups and downs of life?
3.) Practice gratitude. Be grateful to be breathing, for the ability to move in ways that others can’t, for the food that nourishes your body, for the friends and family that enhance your already beautiful life, for the time that remains in your life to create mind-blowing memories.
As the year’s end approaches, my heart is filled with 49 years of incredible memories. I salute my mom in raising 4 children and being our fearless leader. I am made from her, therefore I am her. She is in me and all around me all the time, and she still makes her presence known through a song bomb of 1 of her 2 favorite tunes, (and even with a turtle who rode a wave with me in Sri Lanka). Her sparkle inspires me to become the best version of myself. I love you Mom…always and forever!