It’s Saturday night, and just as I settle under the bed covers, the phone rings. I pick up and hear the voice of my mother’s caregiver. “She has a nosebleed that’s not stopping.”
I call on the Beloved.
My mom comes on the line. “I’m pressing the button,” she says, meaning her Lifeline, a signal that sends a dozen people into immediate action. Within 15 minutes, five emergency responders stand in her bedroom, an ambulance and fire engine rumbling in the driveway.
Her private nurse receives notice and heads there too. Meanwhile at my house, I pull on leggings and a sweatshirt, say goodbye to my cat and head to the hospital, sensing that this may be a long night.
The ER doc stops the bleeding, and just after midnight, I settle mom back in bed at her home. But in the coming days the sense of emergency increases. My mother already breathes oxygen from a machine 24 hours a day, yet in the coming days she can’t seem to get enough.
On Tuesday, after a few restless nights of sleep I struggle to keep pace with the directions from her nurse and caregiver. All want to fix this problem. They want her calm, breathing, alive. And she, of course, wants that more than anyone, so with her will and fear she pushes, she wants. She is like a drowning victim gasping for breath.
And yet…her oxygen levels are okay.
We have set an appointment to see a pulmonary specialist on Thursday, and I hope this will bring some understanding.
I’m lying on the couch trying to gather back some energy when the nurse calls. Tired, I barely grasp the details: the nurse has set up an appointment for a medical evaluation and she wants me there at 3pm. I listen, say okay, and hang up.
Suddenly, a surge of anger rushes through me. It’s a fiery fury that manifests in a scream. I don’t know what it is about, but I cannot ignore it. I want to go outward with it, yell at the nurse. Tell her I’m exhausted, I’m not going. After years of caring for my mother, I fear I can no longer prop her up, be her strength. Instead of yelling at anyone, I call on the Beloved.
I take out a spiritual contemplation note and read it, directing my attention off my anger and onto the loving message on the printed page. My mind wants to stay with the anger, but slowly it submits to the love. I finish the reading in a state of peace.
I go to the kitchen to make lunch. As I cut a beet, a lightening bolt of truth strikes.
“There is no emergency,” the Beloved whispers. “It is all perfect. Your mother is experiencing the expiration of her physical body. It is a beautiful piece of the whole of life, completely natural, wonderfully loving, all in sync with the Divine plan.”
I see how the nurse simply doesn’t know of my mother’s eternity, and so I forgive her pushing. And my mother doesn’t know, so I forgive her neediness.
But I do know that she is a spirit with so much life yet to experience. Soon she will be ready the leave her physical body, which is bed-bound, and enter into a new incarnation, where she can experience the adventures that still ignite her imagination.
As I eat my lunch I feel my own life force return. I can easily be there for her during the medical evaluation and during this whole transition. In the next few days I keep the Beloved close as I do my best to spontaneously follow the Divine nudges in each moment.
I can love her and let her go. (Read more about this in My Mother is Not My Mother.)
I see how this sense of emergency around mortality reflects my own mind’s panic as I let go yet more of my attachment to the material world. My passion for possessions, prestige and satiating my body’s hungers, though still present, dwindle daily as I come to more deeply desire the Beloved. As I let go, mind mobilizes untold emergency responders within me. It wants to run away to a tropical beach, find another soul to lean on, drink red wine and eat chocolate.
Meanwhile, soul only desires to bathe in the soothing current of Divine love.
When systems fail, sometimes we need to push the button and bring in the emergency teams, but there is only one true emergency: to leap into the Beloved’s arms.
Just days after this realization, my mother, Barbara A. Doolittle, transitioned into her next great adventure. We all miss her, but are relieved and joyous for her perfect journey in soul.