Celebrating Death

I’m in Kansas. Just married my daughter off in one of the most beautiful ceremonies ever (very prejudice here). Right before going to Mexico, we all got the news that my mom had a 90% occluded femoral artery and would require surgery on April 6th. During her pre-op exam – her chest x-ray reveal many tumors, both in her chest and in her abdomen. Not a good sign – especially when you consider a chest x-ray 6 months prior was clear.

And so, the procedure was changed. Instead of a fem-pop bypass, she was scheduled for biopsies. I got back from Mexico late Monday night – unpacked, and repacked – for 6 weeks. I knew. I knew 2 months ago. Don’t ask me how, I just did.

The biopsy was classic small cell carcinoma. Very, very, rapid, aggressive tumor – primary tumor at the branching part of the bronchia. Four to six weeks. She made the decision to do palliative care. We were all with her. And then….she fell….breaking 5 ribs… And so, we got down to the business of dying. The celebration of dying.

We all celebrate life, weddings, graduations, births, etc etc…..but rarely do we celebrate death. I’m not sure why that is, after my past 4 years of searching, because I have come to believe that death is a celebration. A time to go back to being spirit. A time to soar again. Celebrating.

When I walked into my brother’s home and saw her for the first time in over two years, she said to me, ”I’ve lived a good life. I have no regrets.” She knew, and she knew that I knew.

But, I have regrets. I have regrets that I haven’t been here for 4 years. I was taking care of me – I was trying to stay alive. But, I’m here now. I am here to help my mother celebrate her death – her crossing – her transition. I was with my father when he passed – it was incredible. I saw my grandparents and a small white dog waiting for him…the last words he said to me as he left was to “Always be happy, Paula. Always be happy.” And I’ll admit, I haven’t. He’s here now – he asked me to tell my mother to give him her pain as it doesn’t affect him the same. He asked me to tell her with her every breath he will be taking her pain. I see him lying in her bed with her with his arms around her, holding her hand.

Tomorrow, I go back to Arkansas City to help my Dad hold my Mom’s hand. I will stay as long as I have to. It’s the very least I can do for her.

Much love

Paula

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