Lift Off to Re-entry

As the plane relinquished it’s contact with land, grief surrendered my body. Breathing the knowing that the physical evidence of death was far below on the ground created space to consider things from a less encumbered perspective. The pain filled heaviness that has plagued my body for months now lifted for a few glorious days of embrace and welcome of a fresh perspective. One that felt lighter and allowed consideration of the colors, shapes, and textures that form the many things that are good and certain about life at this time.

Of course, coming into the house after such a wonderful weekend of remembering what it feels like to be loved and cared for only to discover that Mom and Molly had not returned in my absence, made for a challenging re-entry. It only took twenty minutes to be reduced to sobbing like a broken desolate child. Once the sadness tank was again empty I picked myself up, headed out into the sunshine and mowed the lawn. Watching the unruly grass being buzzed back into order brought a parallel process to my emotions. Knowing that I had glimpsed the future made the present far more bearable.

A curious state continues. One in which, more often than not I am considering my life being governed by guidelines, or principles and less by rules, or restrictions. Initially this felt terrifying. It is now beginning to feel like something that is pretty exciting. More on that next week.

At the same time, as is often the case the past, present, and future often overlap. And so it happened that the day after my return, my cousin’s beautiful wife brought over an album filled with the incredible black and white images of mom and my day in the life photo shoot. That morning I spoke to a friend on the phone who said but you sound so much better and had a great time are you sure you should do this today? From a deep place, without a hint of hesitation I knew. The page is continuing to turn and before it lands completely on the next, I would rather pause here to re-consider once again what has been rather than be pulled back to this place from somewhere else.

Mom and I had talked for some time about having someone witness on film a typical day in the life we lived together. Unfortunately, although many people offered to help their availability existed in a future I was certain had already passed. Fortunately for us Chelsea had stepped up. She spent the better part of a day, two weeks before her wedding and one week to the day before my mother’s death, photographing us. Mom was aware of what was happening. The morning Chelsea arrived she said, “I feel silly, but I know this will help after I’m gone. Who cares what people think. I won’t be here to have to see them. I say do it for you.”

Watching the entire slide show for the first time, with Chelsea next to me, I was reminded of the strength and love of, for, and with my mother. The sheer effort of will that she summoned to prepare for the arrival of her grandchildren later that day to see Cirque du Soleil, when she was so obviously weak and tired is exactly that which I need now.

I share some of these images with you here. Not to re-visit sadness, but in the hopes of fostering new visions of strength, love, determination and life. May the slowness of the everyday bring you to a place of peaceful recognition about what is good in all our lives.

Gratitude and love to Chelsea Levine – witness to our life, and creator of the photographs you are about to see. The photos chosen are excerpted from the over 400 images that Chelsea produced. Special thanks to Lynne Rome, my mother’s dear friend, who joined us for lunch. The music is Gabriel’s Oboe, excerpted from The Mission.



"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 bakka2thesource a collaboration of musicians and artists.
This entry was posted in Caregiver, caregiver burnout, Dying, Elder, Homecare, Hospice, Life, love, mindfulness, Resiliency, soul, truth and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Lift Off to Re-entry

  1. ijwoods says:

    Beth, that video is beautiful; it brings back many feelings and memories for me. The joy and focus you gave your mother in her last days is remarkable. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Andrea says:

    Beautiful, Beth. Just Beautiful. Your video montage was so moving, and as always your perspective on life is so eloquently worded. Thank you for posting, I look forward to reading every week ❤

  3. mike says:

    Beth, Despite my constant saying you’re incredible, loving, and an angel from above….. I then stop and say, it doesn’t surprise me ! One couldn’t ask for more.

  4. lapetinaa says:

    Beth, this video was so moving I can hardly stop crying to catch my breath. What bravery and strength your mom had, and you, too, for sharing such a personal account of her death with the world. I just can’t get over the beauty of this film; the honor and respect that you gave her, and the love so gloriously shared between the two of you. Thank you! xxxxxx

  5. Michelle Fallon says:

    Beth – The video was beautiful, as are you! It was so heartfelt and personal, and enlightening and REAL. I am deeply touched and honored that you shared your “mom’s day” with me. And to think that I just spoke with my own mom who reported a “clean cancer checkup” from her doctor. The wonders of this world never cease to amaze me! Much love – Michelle

  6. Deborah says:

    Someday, perhaps even now, these pictures will remind you that once you dwelt in a sacred place.
    I love you.

  7. EllaDee says:

    Once again an amazing post and inspiration from you. I’m so glad the video was able to be made, and that you shared it. I want for the whole world to see the dignity and beauty that is possible in the circumstances of palliative care. You are a great spokesperson. I hope this goes viral!

  8. Glennie Bee says:

    How lucky you are, Beth, to have such a wonderful treasure, and how lucky we are to share it.
    Thank you.

    • It is indeed a tremendous source of inspiration. It is still hard to myself in the pictures and the toll that caregiving took on my own body. At the same time if I had done it and seen no change THAT would have been a tragedy. Continuing to find the way back to my healthy athletic self – no easy task, but with so much support in my life I am certain I will end up somewhere, although perhaps quite different from where I used to be, wonderful and whole none the less. It is my pleasure to have such fantastic people,and that includes you, to share this journey with. much love

  9. Samantha Amey says:

    Dear Beth….I don ‘t really know you, but Amy has told me so much about you that I feel like I do. This posting of one day in your mother’s & your life touched me so deeply, not only because I/we are going through a similar time in my mother’s life, but also because it is beautiful beyond words. Thank you so much! And best of luck with your healing process. Love, Sam (Tony’s sister)

    • Thank you so much Sam. You have brought a smile to my face and a glow to my heart. I wish you the best in this next phase of transition for your mom and hope to meet you at the estate sale part deux. blessings and peace to you and wonderful to finally meet you. I feel like I know you too. Beth

  10. lance gauthier says:

    Dear Beth, Thank you for sharing these pictures and words. I was unable to care for my own mother, but I did do similar for my father, who died at home from ALS. He very bravely refused a ventilator and was totally dependent and immobile. Strangely, his mind was very sharp and he seemed to possess a kind of intuition for the people around him.

    It was a horrible experience, even for me – someone who worked in hospitals and emergency rooms and have watched many people die – but it is more horrible to not do it. I have done both. I am forever grateful to have had that opportunity. I have said this before, you did everything right.

    Love to you – Lance

    • Dear Lance,

      Isn’t it funny that even when your father’s body would not cooperate, he maintained control over what he could and opened even further to other ways of knowing. I am so glad, that as horrible as it was for you, you got to experience this with him. It is always an honor when you share tidbits of your story.

      You have said it before and I still appreciate hearing it. I do feel good about what we accomplished. Much love to you, and your family. blessings and peace.

  11. Beth, I don’t know what to say, because there is so much going through my head right now and I jsut don’t know how to say them. Suffice to say, that I am so humbled by your beautiful devotion and love you gave to your mother, who by the way was such a beautiful woman, even in her old age. That you even chose to share this intimacy with us is so remarkable of you. I only wish that God will give me the grace to care for my mother, should it become necesary with such tenderness. I dare say, my friend, that you are a lovely gift to your mother, your family, and to us, your blogging friends. Thank you, Beth.

    • Celestine, What I do know about you so far, is that for you to recognize this in me, it must also reside in you. It was not always so with mom and I. When I let go of my reactions to things that no longer mattered tenderness ripened in the soil of forgiveness, and blossomed into the fruit of love. Blessings to you dear one and thank you for your kindness. I pray for good health and much happiness for your mother as long as possible. much love. Beth

  12. Tom Anderson says:

    Thanks to good friend Gary who shared your site. The greatest joy in my ministry has been to walk alongside those who are at “lift-off”. To be with faithful souls who let go of the earth is to be on Holy Ground. To be with the caregivers and to share experience is humbling and awesome. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • Tom, Thank you so much for this. It is indeed a holy place, and an honor to be even briefly, included in the reach of your ministry. I would love to know more about what you do. I was at a Powwow this weekend with the Natick Praying Indians and it was a blessing to wake up to your message which echoes in some measure, the songs that I heard. Blessings and peace to you. Beth

  13. smacken2008 says:

    We all knew that you would succeed in your mission
    Now its time to focus back on the mission that is you
    We know you will come out the other side even more perfect than before.

  14. smacken2008 says:

    We all knew that you would complete your mission as well as emerge as an even better person for it
    Now its on to the latest mission. YOU. Im sure you will emerge that much closer to perfection.

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