By Lockey Mitten Maisonneuve.
As she lay in bed dying, Marlene told her daughter Kathy, she could see a door opening, beyond it she saw flowers everywhere, Marlene said “it was beautiful.” Kathy whispered “it sounds like you have a beautiful place to go with a lot of people who love you waiting for you, it’s okay to go.”
I had the privilege of participating in Marlene’s final days on this earth. I would go to her house and help her through guided meditations. She liked the full-body scan kind with white light covering her entire body. At the beginning of one of our first sessions, she was weeping and wouldn’t make eye contact with me. She just kept trying to hold it together. I finally said “if you are trying to not cry in front of me, it’s not working, just go with it.” She did. She allowed herself to cry as she settled in to meditate. I guided her through, she wept, I reminded her to breathe, she relaxed, I guided, she became soft.
After the meditation, she was a bit frantic about needing to write letters to her three adult children and her grand children. She was in too much discomfort to write, so I offered to write the words she spoke. As I wrote the words she needed to say to her children I understood how loved her children are. After we completed the letters, we sat quietly for a moment.
I was taken back to my own mother’s death. Although she was murdered in her home, I know had she died a different death, there still would not have been letters written or guided meditations. We didn’t have that type of relationship, frankly, we didn’t have any relationship. I suddenly felt a sense of longing for a “mother/daughter” bond that I never experienced. In the moment, I was grateful to be a part of this experience, jealous of Kathy and sort of amazed that the mythical bond really existed. Then I realized why I was there. It wasn’t for the meditation or for the letter writing, it was to give her this message:
“You don’t have to worry about your children receiving these letters. They know they are loved. When my mother died, I don’t think any one mourned her. She made choices in her life that kept people away from her. She couldn’t experience love. She just didn’t know what to do with it. But you are loved. The people around you are your family and they are here because they care, not because they feel obligated. Let that be your letter to them. And yes, if you want to write the letters I will help you. But if you run out of time and don’t get to send the letters, know that your children know they are so loved.”
She smiled. (I sat back and thought “where the hell did that come from?” I didn’t wonder if I was saying the right words, I could hear myself say them, but had no idea where they came from. But I knew in my heart, this is what she needed to hear.)
As soon as I was done speaking, she was a different person. She was smiling, the light was back in her eyes, she was energized. She said I allowed her to release what she needed to release and she was happy. And she was hungry. I went to get her daughter. When her daughter came into the room, she was surprised at her mother’s sudden cheery disposition. We shared our conversation with her, and hugged.
In the following days when I visited, I watched Kathy, and Marlene care for each other. It wasn’t perfect, sometimes they were annoyed with each other, there may or may not have been a few eye rolls from both of them, but they were connected. They had an iron-clad bond. The one thing I never saw or felt was resentment. I never once felt that negative energy around either of them. Even when Kathy was frustrated and venting to me, she was not resentful. She didn’t blame her mother or her cancer for the situation. She didn’t even seem to focus on the negative. To me, her attitude was “If you are here to participate and help, come on in, if not, please, get out of the way.” I admire her resolve.
I will admit, every time I left them, I felt a bit off for the rest of the day. I was content that I was able to participate in some small way, but that didn’t cover up the “off” feeling I kept experiencing. After a few visits I slowly realized why I felt “off”.
I was jealous. Watching the mother/daughter bond in action opened up that space of feeling “ripped off” in me. I felt ripped off because both of my parents were abusive alcoholics, they were not emotionally equipped to take care of me, let alone create a bond of unconditional love and trust. I wasn’t resentful, just jealous. Once I realized what I was feeling, I chose to be grateful for the opportunity to witness this journey first-hand.
I am profoundly grateful to have a loving husband and two children; a son 15, and a daughter, 11. I used to wish I had more money to buy them more stuff and offer them expensive vacations. Not anymore, now I focus on foundation. I want them to know they will always have mom and dad, no matter what. I will never know what the “daughter” part of the bond would feel like, but my daughter will. And I will cherish the “mother” side of the bond I am privileged to create with her.
Marlene left this world last night, she found her peace. I want to be sad for her passing, but I’m not. I’m sad she was in pain and her family will have to mourn her, I’m sad at the finality of life and our meditation sessions. For Marlene, I will celebrate, because she was fortunate enough to experience authentic, unconditional love. She created a life that enabled her to go out exactly how she wanted to: in her loving home, surrounded by her loving family.
One time I asked Marlene if I could get her anything, “more time” she replied. I said “Sorry, that’s the one thing I can’t give you. What else would you like?” She said “I have everything I need.” I believe she did.
Lockey is a yoga instructor and survivor of cancer and child abuse. Sharing her story and practicing yoga saved her life. When she let go of both the cancer and the secret of abuse she was able to heal in both mind and body. Lockey openly shares her cancer and child abuse experiences to help others in what ever they are surviving in their lives. Lockey has been profiled in Shape Magazine WABC-TV, News Channel 12. She is a montly contributor for PositivelyPositive.com. And writes blogs for SheKnows.com and MindBodyGreen.She is featured in The Ultimate Guide to Breast Cancer by the Editors of Prevention Magazine. Recently she presented a vidoechat for the GE Healthcare Breast Cancer Mosaic. She is a monthly contributor on PositivelyPositive.com.