Monday, April 15, 2013

A new perspective.

My mother's recipe for Tagarinies, a South American dish that is a family favorite.

My mom died on April 3, 2013 at 8:30 in the morning. My brother Dave, her sister Betsy and I held her hands and watched her take her last breath.

As my brother said, "The image of that moment is always there but I can't really stand to take it all in yet."

I can't take it all in either. I look at her handwriting and read her recipes and am only partially cognizant that she will never cook for me again. I leave dance class and reach for my phone to call her and remember she won't be there. But it feels more like she is on vacation. She'll be back. Surely she will.

Luckily, in this weird space between losing her and coming to terms with it, my perspective has been shifted profoundly. I was given instant clarity about her specific gifts to me my whole life, those that I refused to see while I was acting feverishly in my role as "daughter." I was also able to understand her forward legacy. I am now held and guided by both mom and Kristin and my other teacher/elders who have their non-linear, ineffable clarity on how grand this life of ours can be.

I have also been gifted MAD LOVE from all of you in the form of earth-shattering, soul rocking healing and food and cards and notes and flowers and plants and smoothies and fellowship and dance and so much more. You gave me a friendship bracelet. You rubbed the side of my arm when I cried because the music made me sad.

I've been inspired in two ways to continue shifting my perspective. Glen Hansard and the rest of the madly talented musicians at this year's Music Now reminded me that passion is not an intellectual, solo pursuit. You gotta go just for it. The big giant beautiful mess of it. You have to tell the truth. So that's thing number one.

Thing number two is to set my eyes on the horizon and see if I can bring it into focus, to literally sketch what I see, to discern foreground from background, to understand scale. I bought a sketch book, oh yes I did. I will finally draw a horse with not too small a head. I tried today to draw what I can see out my back door and call this sweet mess of a thing I did "Buddha says you can leave out the city."

It is a start.

I am a bit of a wayward fledgling again and I don't mind it. Spring arrived in earnest the day my mom left, filling my heart rather than my brain with a perspective of loving hopefulness and gratitude, every single second.

And for those of you who are interested, here is a link to information about the Memorial/Celebration Service of Sheila Sims' beautiful life.

Monday, April 1, 2013


I went to see WAR HORSE on Saturday afternoon, helped out by Liz Stites who hung out with Mom so I could see the play.

I had seen it once before in New York, right before I left for LA to spend the last weeks of dear Kristin's life with her.  It was especially moving to me. I sat in the theatre a good long time after the play ended, unable to stop crying.

This time, knowing that Mom was also toward the end of her days, I was especially taken with the puppeteers, the humans who became practically invisible to make the horses move. They are so gracefully integrated they become indistinguishable from Joey and from one another. They are there to support his journey and in turn, ours becomes sublime.

The other night while Mom was sleeping, I was reading the book PROOF OF HEAVEN in which a surgeon recounts his near death experience. He writes about the thinning of the veil and presence of spirits and loved ones who await us. They help make the passage from this realm to that one not only reasonable but downright ecstatic. I have spent enough time with spiritual leaders and healers to come to understand in some way that we are never alone if we allow ourselves to be supported, either by our flesh and blood friends who will lift us up and move us if we need it or by the ethereal others who await to show us just how extraordinary unconditional, eternal love can feel.

Mom is in hospice now. Her mental clarity is gone and her heart beats on a bit longer. The nurse and I lifted her today with way less grace than the War Horse crew and got her where she needed to go, even though she forgot the point when we got there. We will stay here with her until we can pass her off to the rest of you ... to Kristin and Grandma Pauline and Brother Bill and Sandy and Steve and Zane and all those beauties you have lost too who can't wait to take her hand and help her along in heaven.

I don't need proof because I can see it and feel it. She is already talking to you, long lost friends, and reaching out her trembling hand to you. Take it whenever is the best time for her gorgeous lift off.

On the count of three ...