A new year has begun though the memories of the past 11 months linger – rightfully so.  A significant loss, so tragic, so sudden, as the loss of my mother, will take many moons to heal. I’m accepting of this.  I am still grieving my her – everyday is a new day and every breath is a blessing . It seems like yesterday we talked on the phone planning her trip to New Orleans in February.  She never came and my heart still aches for one more conversation, one more hug, one more laugh, one more dance…

Everything is different.  When Mom left her physical body I felt a piece of my soul travel with her.  And that shred of soul was replaced with my universal potential hugged by my mother’s spirit – and I was reborn.


The week of her death I was feeling more than I’ve felt at any one time in my life.  I was born into grief, again, and I had the feeling I felt this before.  Perhaps I experienced this after my father’s and my accident in ’84 or maybe it was from another life. Either way, I verbalized this intense feeling to everyone who came to visit me the week before her memorial service (a week after she passed on).  As much as I was in my mind and above, I was consumed with new physical bodily sensations. My mental image of my physical body was not my own – it was my mother’s – specifically her face.  I remember it vividly and luckily instead of keeping this all consuming feeling inside I shared it.  I never felt so present.  I was able to sit and listen, hold space energetically for people who came into our house, and articulate all that I was feeling while simultaneously feeling that if I looked into a mirror I would see my mother, not me.  Never did I get a shocking response or a weird look when I shared this sensation with those I trusted; it was as if they understood.  Anyone who knew the type of relationship my mother and I had didn’t need an explanation.

Reflecting Orphan

My mother made life comfortable for me by being the loving, nurturing, supportive, and giving person she was. Some may see this relationship as very co-dependent but I saw her as my companion. We shared our experiences and did everything we could to help each other when we were in need. We talked about the state of the world, family frustrations, relationships, finances, work, friendly gatherings, movies… life.  Both my mother and I never sought out therapy until a year before her passing.  Through therapy she was better able to understand her emotional pain and received validation for her sensitivity.  I always though that one day I might have to take care of her – and that was ok.  She took care of a woman with severe cerebral palsy who was developmentally 2 years old for 18 YEARS!  Can you imagine?!  I would have never sent my mother to a nursing home or assisted living.  I had this idea that I would make it work and I would take care of her for the rest of her days.  I also thought there would be a lot of time in between but I also know that time flies in the blink of your eyes.  I had the opportunity, a year before I started grad school, to move down south to New Orleans.  I took it.  I wanted to be more independent and I didn’t want to regret staying in Massachusetts forever (though I do love MA).  While I was down there I would only talk to my mother a couple times per week (which was a lot less than usual).  At one point she bought an iPhone and we started video chatting.  This felt right.  There was a healthy separation now and I couldn’t wait to live close to her again when it was time to return to school.  We spoke about our future and dreams of one day buying a house in New Orleans when I was opening my expressive therapy community centers after graduation.

Peas in a Pod

Right as our relationship was about to blossom,  she was gone, in an instant.  My mother and I lived for one another. She was taught the “life’s too short” lesson at 27 years old when she lost her husband, my father, to a drunk driver.  Why?  When I first heard the words “there’s nothing else they can do” at the hospital on February 12, 2013, I stood up, threw my arms in the air and exclaimed loudly, “WHAT FUCKING HAND WAS I FUCKING DEALT HERE???”  I was in the company of people/family I had known my whole life and though it was shocking for some to hear those words come out of my mouth I questioned why another precious person in my life was taken so soon.  I felt so alone.

I’m beginning to realize that these experiences were all supposed to be.  It doesn’t make my life any easier to say this but it’s medicine for my heart and mind.  I carry on day-to-day and have an amazing amount of support from my core group of friends (famibly) and others (some who were not in my life until this tragedy hit) – I’m thankful for these souls everyday.

What’s next?

I’ve spoken of my mother and her selfless gifts or organ and tissue donation in front of millions of people and will continue to be an advocate for organ donation and will promote living your life with love and compassion. I’m documenting my grieving process in order to help others who feel the physical and psychological pain of loss through coping exercises and validation that everyone’s process is different and natural to only the person suffering.  How do we move through it?  I’m discovering new formations everyday.  I will finish grad school and use my gifts to nurture and heal those I’m capable of helping. I will put my energy into being the agent of change I know I am. I’m one week away from giving a TED Talk  at Greenwich Country Day School and am honored they chose me.  My audience will be predominently 6th graders!  I’m not sure if that makes it easier or harder to write it.  The session will be filmed and I promise to post the link when it’s time.

As I face my future I know one thing is for certain: all we have is now.

All We Have Is Now