Today, six years ago, my mother died.
I had had a high fever for three days, but when I got the call around 6am that Friday morning, I was out of the bed and out of the house in 15 minutes, taking the first train home. She was still in coma when I got there by around 10am, lying almost peacefully - after 3 years of on-off cancer treatment - on the pullout bed in the living room.
I sat down and talked with her. Somehow it seemed more sincere and honest and courageous than any of our previous talks. Maybe because I wasn't scared to talk about death this time - and she couldn't talk back at all any more.
I took the westernised version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead from her bedside table, opened it in a random place and read out loud. About going to light and all that stuff. I wasn’t very sure what I was expecting - for her to wake up, or die off. Those two seemed equally strange, dreamy and surreal possibilities. I guess there really isn’t anything arbitrary about dying - it’s this strange touching point between the veils, morphing realities that we usually don’t think about, and it always hits us unprepared. Maybe, undoubtedly, it’s the downside of Western culture - being unprepared mostly about anything that concerns aspects of life.
At some point - out of a whim - I asked her whether she would like to come back. She actually reacted to that - with loud, painful moaning that drew me to a conclusion that her body was already destroyed beyond repair.
My father told me that her pretty much last words the night before had been "I'm just so tired... I can't take it any more."
So I let it at that.
After sitting there for a couple of hours talking, reading, waiting, daydreaming, calling my doctor just for a mental assurance that we mutually understand what is happening (dying, dying), I suddenly didn’t know what to do any more. What if it continues for days, I thought. I will have to go back to work some day - who will take care of her body here? Time seemed to stretch out indefinitely in my mind. On one hand, I wanted her to be like that forever, and then again I didn’t.
Then I remembered that song - my song - I had sung at my grandmother’s funeral a few months before. She - my mother - had liked it, and now I suddenly felt sort of compelled to sing it to her. I had no guitar this time - nor much of a voice -, but it didn’t matter.
So I chanted to her about the endings and new beginnings and about sacred trees, winds and letting go. Three verses I chanted, and the choruses in between.
When I got past the last words, she breathed out... out, out, and flew away, out of the window. I knew because our dog, who had been laying with her eyes fixed on her body, suddenly moved and followed that flight with her eyes.
Flight to freedom, just like in my song.