“Did you meet someone?” Those were my mom’s famous words to me each and every time she saw me. She was my mom. She wanted the best for me. Her intent was completely unconditional.
The belabored breathing, the sporadic heaves of her chest with her eyes involuntarily twitching was an invitation to death. I sat on a plain chair, next to my mom’s lifeless body resting on a bed, watching her struggle in making her transition from the earthly plain to the other side of life. I tried to quiet the lobbing pain in my heart, as tears poured down my face. I held her thin hand, streaked with blue veins on skin so transparent. I was frightened that my touch would hurt her. Her hand did not flinch. I remained another 7 hours, grasping her fragile fingers, listening to the hum of my mom’s inhalations, and praying that she would gently pass. She waited. I finally left to go home to catch up on some sleep. Four hours later, I received a phone call from the hospice nurse. My mother just passed at 11:45pm, September 1st, my daughter’s birthday. It was a beautiful midnight, skies looming with stars; quiet, peaceful with a gentle wind whispering in the background. I could feel the drone of my breath as I entered the building. The throb of my heart grew in intensity as I neared my mother’s room. I saw enough death and dying in my lifetime, and I saw enough dead bodies to provide me with a mastership on how to handle death. My proficiency was defunct…lost…nil.
I walked inside the room. My mother was gone. No more grasping breaths. No more trembling eyelids. No more gurgling noises; complete, utter silence. I stared for what appeared to be an infinite amount of time. I could feel my entire body swell with overwhelming sorrow. I kissed her cheek, and told her that I would see her again one day. It felt as though my mother’s soul had lifted, her face reflecting a conciliation of sorts. I broke. My mother was at peace. She looked lovely. I was a mess.
I have very fond memories of my parents laughing and smiling together. The love they shared was genuine and playful. My father was exceptionally affectionate, and he would wrap his arms around my mother with such a fondness, mom would just crumble, laugh and two-step with him simultaneously. Witnessing such generosity of their hearts made me feel safe and equally as loved. The most important thing to my Dad was his family, and my mother reciprocated in kind.
Their relationship, certainly, was not without its glitches. Dad was in sales, and traveled often. Mom was usually manning the home front, while being the new face in an unfamiliar town. My father was excellent at what he did, and he was consistently promoted. Those advancements also came with more moves, uproots and new places to settle down in, with the settling being temporary. It was difficult for my mother to be extracted from an area she was just beginning to become accustomed to, however she was deeply in love with my father.
My dad also had his own storms to sift through. The wear and tear of being on the road was isolating, and the yearning for companionship with my mother magnified. Knowing they both would see each other, igniting their love was what was constant and worth the wait.
My father was an only child. He was born to an immigrant father and an American-born mother, both whom eventually settled in the Bronx, a then comfortable borough of NYC back in the 30’s. My dad played stick ball on the streets, and was fiercely independent. He grew up quickly, as most city kids do. His parents loved him very much, but they both worked. Thus, my dad was often alone. I remember hearing my father saying to my mother how lonely he was as a kid. He always wanted more siblings. We were already a family of 4, Michael being my oldest brother and then myself, 17 months younger, and mom and dad. My father wanted to have more children, but my mother was comfortable having two.
Fourteen years later, my mother and father announced that they were pregnant. My father was overwhelmingly happy. Mom was a bit stunned, but not hesitant. After years of trying, both my parents were told they could never have another child. To this day, I never understood why they could not conceive. A new life developing inside my mother nullified everything the doctor told my parents.
Six months into the pregnancy, our family planned a vacation to Maine. That vacation never came to fruition. We were hit head on at 100 miles per hour by another driver, who lost control of his car. My father was dead. My mother, my brother and I were transported to a local hospital in Exeter, New Hampshire, with no expectation to survive. Shortly thereafter, my brother and I were flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with the intent to save our lives, despite the grimness of our injuries. My mother ultimately was shipped by ambulance to Mass General a week later, where she shared a room with a nun who was to undergo surgery.
The doctor had come into see my mother, sharing the news that her husband was killed as was the family dog, and that both her children were not expected to live.
My mother’s belly was now protruding at six months, her whole entire life was completely altered, and the losses were simply too much to comprehend. It was a devastating place to be in, with no time allotted for recovery. My mother’s state of consciousness was unsettled, and any clarity was absent.
The universe works in magical ways. The chances that my mother would be placed in a room where a nun was awaiting surgery were quite unlikely, given my mother’s circumstances. In fact, it would be presumed that, given my mother’s insurmountable loss in just one single day, a sanction for a private room would be obvious. The need for my mother to have her most private thoughts, without interruption, would be a priority.
This was no irony. There are amazing gifts in the struggle, yet very difficult to ascertain when we are in the throes of staggering anguish. My mother could not even contemplate raising another child knowing that her husband just died, and her two children were hanging on to mere threads of life. It simply was too much. Nothing would suffice for the staggering pain infiltrating my mother’s heart, not even another child.
As time pressed on, my mother began to form a very beautiful and poignant relationship with this Nun. In her most despairing moments, my mother was able to share her deepest fears, most discretional and contemplative thoughts with a person she barely knew. They had a common bond: a shared room. No matter what brought them there, they shared this room because they were supposed to. Every day, the Nun simply listened to my mother without reserve. She wept with my mother, held my mother and allowed my mother to be exactly where she needed to be. That room became a sanctuary of pure, unconditional love, a space that was protected and safeguarded from ravaged torment and loss. For my mother, this room became a safe haven, albeit the pain that was imminent outside of those four walls.
Through the lens of human reason, horrible things happen. Through the lens of universal understanding, horrendous things happen as a path to collectively stretch ourselves beyond our limitations, one person, one-light-bulb moment at a time. Initially, and maybe never, this was too much for my mother to comprehend. What really would be the gift for my mother in this horrible tragedy? What gift could my mother truly claim in her darkest hours? Would it even be possible for my mother to have more love in her heart, despite the loss of her husband, her dog and the potential deaths of her two children? In one sweeping moment, the Nun offered this: “This child, a gift from God, is here to offer you the grace and love like gentle breezes, giving you inner strength and peace and patience for your journey ahead. He knows you will not betray his trust, or dampen his hope or discourage his dreams. God will assist you in helping this child become all you mean to him.” Three months later, my mother gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, perfect, little boy.
Miracles happen every day. They do. They really do. Surrendering ourselves to the possibility of a miracle opens us up to limitless possibilities, even if we are unable to understand them. With gentle acceptance, regardless of how excruciatingly painful, we are able to stretch ourselves beyond any usual limitation that we hold. Whatever we are experiencing in the moment is exactly what we are supposed to. In many respects, stepping into that uncharted territory becomes the gift, and later the Miracle.
Life does not provide us with the answers or the journey we thought we should have had. Letting go is acceptance in disguise, despite our circumstances. As our daily pulse of living and trusting becomes more vivid, we can then rally with ourselves and the unexpected can be dispersed into a gentle faith.
A Sufi Master once said to me: “The only time we are ever awake is when we die.”
I decided I did not want to wait that long.
Cindy's upcoming Event - SIGNS FROM HEAVEN
Come to this beautifully moving & powerful event that will ignite your belief that the soul never dies: A weaving of storytelling about real-live conversations from the other side. Stories and experiences will be shared. Q&A at the end.
Where: Historic Grange Hall, East Sandwich, Old County Road
When: May 3rd, Sunday, 1:30-3:30pm
Fee: $20.00 in advance to secure seat/ $25.00 at the door if seats come available Payment must be made in advance to reserve seat. Space limited to 100 people.
To register contact: Cindy Barg, M.Ed, LMHC, Sacred Space, Inc. 917-580-0228 or
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.gettingbeyondlifestuff.com
Cindy Barg, M.Ed, LMHC, is an intuitive, licensed psychotherapist and highly respected consultant, public speaker and author, whose expertise lies in the areas of, but is not limited to: Grief, Loss, Relationships, Self-Empowerment, Transitions and "Getting Beyond Life's Stuff." In 1971, Cindy was told she would never walk again, or be able to have children, after a devastating car accident. To date she has conducted over 500 workshops all over the country & abroad (China, Malaysia, India), while operating a private practice & offering spiritual retreats.
Cindy counsels and consults with individuals in person or via phone consultations in Sandwich and Kingston. She is most recognized for her unique & gifted approach to healing, where she attempts with humility & grace to teach clients to tap into their personal power, grasping & gathering the threads of their life, no matter how profoundly tragic or joyful their circumstances. For more information about Cindy and her work visit her website: www.gettingbeyondlifestuff.com