This morning, the day after my mother died, I got up early to go for a morning walk. It was a beautiful, sunny fall morning, crisp and clear, the trees decked out in their October colors of bright orange and red. I walked along with my ipod in my pocket playing Joan Osborne songs in my ears.
I felt elated. The heaviness that goes with watching someone you love decline and die inch by inch, day after day, was gone now. It had lifted and in its place was only relief. She was finally free.
I walked over to the local park where there is a running track and playground and began to walk around the track at a fast clip, feeling good. There were a couple of older women already walking – one about the size and shape of my mother. I thought about how long it had been since I'd seen my mother move without someone or something to hold onto. “Good for them for being out here!” I thought, as I passed them on the track.
My body was reveling in being out in the open air. I was full of energy and life. I began to wave my arms in time to the music and take jogging dance steps. My body wanted to boogie and I let it have its way. I began to sing along with the song that goes, “I dreamed about Ray Charles last night and in my dream he could see just fine …” I was really boogieing now. I danced my way to the swing set and climbed on one that was stationed high off the ground. I began to swinging high, leaning full into it and pumping my legs to make it go higher and faster.
I noticed I had attracted the attention of the two older ladies and I imagined them asking, “Why are you acting like that?” I mentally responded with the words, “Because I CAN!” and then I heard my mother laugh.
I always loved my mothers laugh. It was infectious. Her laughter would bubble up from down deep and roll out in sweet peals of heart-felt joy. I would purposely do or say things in the hopes of bringing her laughter – I loved hearing it that much. What a great sound, her laugh – one indelibly engraved on my heart and in my memory. I heard it now – the full resonant joy of it. I started laughing out loud in response.
It had been years since my mother had been physically fit enough to enjoy walking, dancing, jogging. I'd long ago let go of my desire for her to join me on hikes and long walks. But now, suddenly, it occurred to me that she was finally able to move freely, to dance, to run, to jump and twirl about! I dropped my head way back as I continued to swing, wrapped my legs around the swing-chains and hung upside down the way I'd done so often as a child. Now I had an upside down view of the wonderful day, full of fall colors and blue-blue skies and I laughed again. Undoing myself on the swing, I leaped from it, landing on my feet, and started dancing anew.
It was as if my mother and I were one, her reveling through me, in her new found freedom; she was being given the chance to move about in a pain-free, agile body. We danced, we ran, we lept and whirled – my precious mama and me. This is how I know she still lives. She lives and will continue to live in (and even through) me. She is free and we are together again.
Such is the resurrection that follows the liberation of death. Halleluiah!