Three Gifts

There are three primary gifts that have helped me maintain a sense of peace and find joy in life, even with my beloved older daughter gone – the practice of staying in the present, made possible in part through The Work of Byron Katie; my deep faith in the divine and the consciousness that continues when we leave our bodies; and being in service to others with gratitude.

Rumi, Elizabeth Blue, Lucia Maya,

Staying Present

There were so many times during the two months when Elizabeth was in hospice, when my mind would go to “this shouldn’t be happening”… Yet she never did that. She didn’t try to be anywhere other than where she was. She was in a state of grace.

I, however, was not. I would notice that I wasn’t actually with her, even though she was still in front of me, because of what I was thinking. So as soon as I caught myself, The Work would go like this. I’d have this thought: “she shouldn’t be dying, she is only 22!” I’d ask myself “is that true?” and if I said yes, I’d then ask “can I absolutely know that is true?” And the answer was always no, I couldn’t know that she shouldn’t be dying. That would always begin to shift things…

There are more steps to The Work, (www.thework.com) but the practice is one of bringing myself back to the present, noticing that it’s only my story about the past or the future that is creating my suffering. When I am in the present moment, I am always ok. Maybe incredibly sad, maybe sobbing on the floor, but as the emotion moves through and I’m present with it, without a story, I can allow it to be fully expressed without judgment or holding back, and I am ok. I am at peace.

Faith and Divine Presence

I’m grateful that for years I’ve been using The Work for myself and my clients, as it helps immensely. I also have been a Reiki Master since 2001, and this channeling of healing energy, with my work as an intuitive guide has kept me in deep connection with the Divine presence. Using Reiki on myself and others helps me literally feel the Divine with me. It has also helped to soothe and quiet my mind and feel balanced and clear, physically, mentally and emotionally.

In my work I receive messages from those in spirit. These have been validated as accurate by their loved ones so many times that I trust they are real. It brings me great comfort to know that there is a consciousness, a soul that continues to exist when we leave our body. So after Elizabeth died, I was worried initially about her being happy, the same way I’d been all her life! I’ve since heard over and over from Elizabeth, including in several readings with mediums, that she is happy, that she is doing wonderful work where she is – more than she could have done while in her body, that she is exactly where she is supposed to be and where she wants to be.

I have many stories of Elizabeth showing herself to me when I’ve needed confirmation from her that she is around. One of the most remarkable was soon after she died, and I was missing her terribly. I was floating in the ocean, looking at the sky, which was filled with puffy round clouds. I asked her to show me that she was present and immediately the clouds shifted to form a huge letter E in the sky above me!

Another way she lets me feel her presence is through music. When I am alone in the mornings, especially in the months after she died, I play Pandora on shuffle, with about 20 stations selected. This means there are many thousands of possibilities of songs that could play. On mornings when I desperately wanted to know her spirit was close, I’d ask her to show herself. Each time I made this request, the next song that came on was one of a handful of songs that she and I both loved, that had particular meaning to both of us, and that did not play any other time than those times I asked. It brought me to my knees in tears each time – simply overwhelmed with emotion and in gratitude.

Service and Gratitude

The third aspect that I’ve found essential to having a life of peace and joy, is being in service and feeling gratitude. I was able to take time off work during the time Elizabeth was in hospice, and slowly started seeing clients again in the months following her death. I am so blessed that I love my work, and that it is nourishing to me, while I’m supporting others in their healing. I have always worked with people during times of great transformation, and now especially, those dealing with grief and loss of all kinds find their way to me.

I have found writing, this blog in particular, to be immensely helpful. It has served as a way of processing my experience and emotions and having a forum to share Elizabeth and her writing. It’s also connected me to an online community, through other bloggers and Facebook, that has brought so much support, love and nourishment. The more vulnerable and authentic I am, the more authentic the connections and friendships I have received. It has felt like an offering, something coming through me that serves me and hopefully many others.

I find that four and a half years later, I still need more time alone than ever before. I need time to just be, to meditate, to connect, to listen, to not answer to anyone…and I need to balance that with living a life of purpose, doing the work I came here to do. I feel Elizabeth with me, joining me in serving others, and I believe that living my life as fully and joyfully as possible is the best way I can honor Elizabeth’s life and death. I take care of myself in every way I know how, and remember how blessed I am. I do my best to  focus on the gifts in my life – 22 years of having Elizabeth as my living daughter and the rest of my life with her as a spiritual companion; another amazing daughter, Julianna, now almost 24, very happily living and working in New York; a home on Maui and a thriving practice with clients all over the world; and a marriage to my partner of 15 years that supports me in so many ways.

I am blessed. I am grateful. I am present.

Home Funeral – Upworthy shares our story

I was interviewed for a story on home funerals in Upworthy by Evan Porter, and he wrote a beautiful piece. Very grateful to be sharing it here:

https://www.upworthy.com/how-a-nontraditional-funeral-helped-this-mom-process-her-daughters-tragic-death?c=hpstream

Elizabeth Blue, home funeral

Making offerings…9/23/12

Elizabeth Blue, home funeral

Elizabeth Blue’s body at home, 9/23/12

Elizabeth Blue, home funeral,

Her toes…

Catching Up

I’ve been feeling exceedingly sad today, and the last couple of days, and I had a few ideas of what might be contributing, including one of my dearest, most beloved friends about to have surgery for cancer for the third time. It’s also coming up on the anniversary of my father’s death, which continues to bring grief to the surface, even after 48 years.

Then I remembered that it was three years ago yesterday that Elizabeth was in the ICU, and had her second, emergency brain surgery.  The day before that was her initial one, which we learned was largely unsuccessfully at removing the large tumor that had not responded to chemo. Three years ago today was the day she had a stroke, and could no longer move her legs or her left arm.

And now, it’s making more sense…why I’m feeling like once again, it’s the end of the world as I know it. (Which always reminds me of this great song, which I start hearing whenever I think that phrase: https://youtu.be/Z0GFRcFm-aY)

It’s amazing how the unconscious and the body remember these anniversaries, even when the mind doesn’t.

Starting in January of this year, these months have been both amazingly wonderful, and extremely challenging, which are both reasons why I haven’t been writing much here. Two close family members have had worrisome diagnoses and unresolved health issues. A friend’s husband was diagnosed with lymphoma. By the time it was diagnosed, it had already spread throughout his body, and he died within weeks. Another friend’s niece, about Elizabeth’s age, had been diagnosed with a form of leukemia in the fall.  I watched intently, from a distance, as she progressed through brutal treatment, to an amazing remission, only to be followed immediately by her heart failing from the chemo. She died about three months ago, at the age of 18.

As I mentioned, I’ve also been watching from afar as one of my best friends is dealing with cancer, doing amazingly well through over 18 months of chemo, radiation, surgeries…showing resilience and strength that is so like him, and with his wisdom, compassion and loving presence completely intact.

Each of these experiences has impacted me deeply, bringing emotions and memories to the surface that I sometimes have the luxury of allowing to remain below. Not forgotten, but not front and center either. I no longer can distance myself. I no longer have illusions that everyone will be fine; that people don’t die because they are young, or seemed healthy just last week.  Of course I knew this before, intellectually, and somewhat internally as well, since my father had died when he was 30, my uncle at age 21. But I was very young then, and losing one’s child to cancer is like nothing else, not even the loss of a parent.

Almost 3 years…

Almost 3 years since Elizabeth died and I don’t cry every day. I think of her more often as she is now, appreciating her presence in my life. I spend less time now thinking of her as she was in her last couple of years of life, at age 21 and 22, less time longing for another phone call or meeting for a latte and a scone… I have more random memories of both her and J, from all different ages, some joyful, some regretful, some proud, some guilty – more what feel like “regular” mother memories.

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, Lucia Maya, before cancer,

me and Elizabeth, ~ 2008

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, Lucia Maya, before cancer,

me and Elizabeth, ~ 2008

A week ago though, a friend had gifted me with a trip to a spa. As I was relaxing in the soaking pool, a mother about my age entered with her daughter, who looked to be in her early twenties. Their easy communication and manner reminded me a great deal of me and Elizabeth, and it took all I had to keep from sobbing right there, the loss so fresh and great. It also reminded me that it is in those quiet, reflective times that the emotions have more space to come to the surface. Much of my life is occupied by working with clients, listening to stories about their lives, reading about other’s lives on Facebook, blogs and books, and on and on.

It’s easy to fill up all the minutes of the day, and why I treasure my times of reflection and meditation. When alone in the mornings on Maui, I play Pandora on shuffle while I make my breakfast smoothie, present with my thoughts, with the other worlds and connection and messages that come through the music.  It gives me a few minutes of this time for reflection and connection. When here on Molokai, I spend time in the ocean, watching the clouds and feeling Elizabeth, feeling her presence in nature, talking to her and feeling her response. It’s not enough, but I’m so grateful for these precious moments.

this week

This week, I am crying at every little thing. Even sitting down to write a blog post makes me teary, and there’s nothing I’m particularly sad about in this moment.

This week I am staying up late watching full seasons of shows I like, family dramas especially, and sobbing through them. So much emotion – from marriages, to deaths, to new babies…and of course the scenes with the mother and her 20-something daughter having her first baby just put me right over the top…

This week I just want to stay in bed all morning reading Facebook updates on my phone, laughing and crying at silly videos and other people’s lives.

This week I want to eat chocolate for breakfast. And lunch and dinner. (Though I did make a great lentil soup last night to supplement the chocolate.)

This week I am angry at Elizabeth for dying. I am still stunned. Shocked that she left. Shocked that this fierce, stubborn hard-headed young woman, stronger-willed than I her whole life, could be gone. Taken down by something that wasn’t supposed to kill her. All kinds of people survive cancer. How did she not?

This week I rediscover Elizabeth’s Tumbler “Freshly Shaved Legs”, and smile at her posts the last months of her life – about fashion, music, deep thoughts, love, worries about her phone not working and being out of communication (little did we know she’d be communicating in a whole new way so soon…).  I forget how funny she was, in her sly, kittenish way. I admire her writing style, wish I could emulate her, and know that she is unique.

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher,

Elizabeth Blue, ~2010

This week I reread some of Rachel Remen’s book “Kitchen Table Wisdom”, which I loved when I read it years ago. One story is of a man who had survived cancer, and reading it this time, it seems she believes he survived only because he was able to move through and heal some deep emotional woundings. As Elizabeth’s mother, I feel responsible for ALL her emotional woundings (which I know intellectually isn’t true), and feel myself sink into self-blame.

This week I delight in the yard being cleaned and feeling brighter, more spacious, open; in adding a pump to my little pond so I hear running water from my bed when I wake up in the morning; in a basket full of oranges I picked from our backyard.

This week I cry tears of love and my heart opens as Zelie listens to her inner calling and attends a voice workshop for 10 days, being challenged and loved and supported in her soul’s work.

This week I listen to Julianna with pride and deep love as she prepares to graduate college and move out into the world at large, making her way with such grace, determination, focus and wisdom.

This week I despair at how little I’ve been writing, and feel my heart crack open when I discuss taking a writing workshop, and how I feel called to write a book about Elizabeth’s life and death and our journey together.

This week I feel the full-body Yes to this call, and know it’s not in my timing, any more than the timing of this post today, this week.

What Would Be Elizabeth’s 25th Birthday

I have been remarkably quiet here for some time. Not that I don’t have anything to say, but I’ve felt somehow paralyzed. There are some days filled with joy and gratitude – full and hopeful, and I don’t have much to say about them. There are days filled with deep sorrow, my eyes filling with unspilled tears with nearly every breath, as the past two weeks have been, and I don’t quite know how to express in words what is in my heart…I am grateful for these anniversaries and birthdays as it gives me an absolute knowing that I will sit down here and write, and there is much that wants to be written.

Today, January 12, 2015, Elizabeth would have turned 25. She would have been here in Hawaii these last couple of weeks with me, with her sister and my partner, with her aunts and her cousins, her grandmother…we would have all celebrated her birthday together, at least in my imagination. And she’s not. And we’re not celebrating with her. I know she’s here in spirit, I’m feeling her laughing at me, and I don’t care, I just wish she were here. Her bossy, sweet, appreciative, wise and beautiful embodied self.

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher,

Elizabeth, ~ age 8

I know I’m not alone in missing her. It’s possible I’m not even missing her and hurting the most (though it’s hard to imagine that). I know the rest of our family and her close friends, maybe even people I never knew, are missing her terribly, their hearts hurting and throats filled with tears. And yet, even when I’m with others, I feel alone in this. Ironically, I’ve barely been alone these past 3 weeks, and perhaps that’s part of why I feel so separate from Elizabeth. It’s when I have more time alone that I can most easily feel her presence and connect with her spirit, and then I feel more connected with everything.

I do sense she’s farther away these days though – tending to bigger things than just me and my grief. She feels more diffuse nowadays, more everywhere and less anywhere. So I will celebrate her birthday without her, with family, and mostly within myself.

Her birthday is deeply important to me. I gave birth to her 25 years ago on this day. I knew her intimately from the time she was conceived. I fed her from my own body for over two years. I watched her joys and her sorrows and her loves and her fears. I watched her take her first step, discover her love for avocado, dress up in clothes with delight, eat her first and her last, bite of food. I watched her take her last breath. Today, she will be honored and loved, celebrated and cried for. I carry her with me and all who are reading this carry her as well. Thank you.

Happy birthday my sweet first born. Happy birthday Elizabeth Blue.

Lucia Maya, Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher,

Celebrating our birthdays, January, 2009

Lucia Maya, Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, Lucia Maya, Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher,

These photos are from 2009, on a family vacation when Elizabeth and I celebrated our birthdays together. Mine is December 24, and hers January 12, and we were all together sometime in between.

A Cancer Poem – by Elizabeth Blue

A Cancer Poem

written by Elizabeth Blue during her treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, 2012

As I pray to the goddesses of white blood cells
to increase my cell counts
so I won’t get sick.
Won’t get a fever and go to the hospital.
It becomes more apparent
to me
than ever:
that gentle hand of grace
we call god
is in
my own body.

As I pray to the goddesses of white blood cells
to increase their numbers
so that
I won’t get sick.
I won’t get a fever
and go to the hospital.
And I imagine my fate
hinged on their fingernail
I know more than ever
that twisting fate
we call god
is in
is part of
my own self body.

Victoria told me
a shaman told her
so many ask
beg
to meet God.
And then they say:
“But:
keep my children safe.”
“Keep me healthy.”
“Don’t send me to war.”
“Let me be prosperous.”
“Let me be in love.”
“Keep divorce away.”
“Let me be beautiful.”

And Victoria told me
she thought it was interesting
the unwillingness to surrender
yet want to meet God.
We were talking about cancer I think
When she told me all this.
“Yes it is interesting.”
I agreed.

Elizabeth Blue©, 2012

I’m sharing some of Elizabeth’s poetry as I am able, selecting ones that I love, and that offer some deep wisdom, beauty and teachings for us all.

Second Anniversary

9/18/14

I am over the Pacific Ocean as I write, traveling from my home on Maui to Berkeley, California. My mother, in her wisdom, proposed the lovely idea of gathering in the Bay Area, inviting me to join her there, along with my sister who lives close by. My oldest friend and Elizabeth’s godmother lives nearby and will be joining us for some time as well . It was my longtime home, one of my favorite places, that now holds many memories, joyful,  bittersweet, some sad.  It is where both my daughters were born and where I transformed from a young 19 year old at UC Berkeley to a slightly wiser and more experienced 41 year old mother of two, when I was told by the Universe that it was time to move on.

This Tuesday, September 23, 2014 marks two years since my daughter Elizabeth died. It is still hard to fathom that this has even happened, let alone that it has been two years since I heard her voice or touched her hand. It has now been longer than two years since I listened to her laugh, argued with her, met her for our weekly coffee dates to hear what was going on in her classes, with her friends, the guy she was dating or maybe someone new she had her eye on. She would always ask about me too, whether from being taught that it’s the right thing to do, or from genuine interest, I don’t know, but I was always touched and happy to share my life with her as well.

What do I miss the most? I miss sharing a goat cheese and sun-dried tomato scone at Raging Sage with her, both of us wanting the other to eat more than half, and giving the crumbs to the little brave birds that would gather round our sunny table. I miss her texting me to let me know her weekly schedule, making sure we found a time to get together every week.

I miss Mother’s Day when she would always give me a card and a thoughtful gift, and write a beautiful message of how much she loved me and how grateful she was that I was her mom.  I miss her so much that just writing of these memories makes me cry on the plane, and yet I’m so happy that I have them.  I see some photos of her and for a moment see myself, knowing simultaneously that it’s her. I am starting to understand how merged we were, and perhaps still are.

We are meeting for this anniversary with no plans except to be together. I hope to do some things that Elizabeth would have loved. I realized this morning that shopping for second-hand clothes in some of her favorite stores would delight her, and buying some makeup (which I barely wear) would make her happy too. I’d like to get another tattoo, but think this next one will take some planning… Probably we’ll create an altar. Perhaps we’ll have a picnic on the beach, eating delicious foods, taking full advantage of our embodiment, enjoying the sensations that she no longer gets to experience and sharing with her our pleasure and our longing.

birthday altar, Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher

The altar on Elizabeth’s 1st birthday after she died, 1/12/13

I look back at these two years since she died, and the year before that when she was dealing with cancer, and in some ways it’s a blur. I find myself having moved to Maui, in a most amazing and beautiful new home, being supported with such grace, and some challenges. I find that I’ve been supported financially throughout all this, somewhat miraculously. I see that my work continues in the ways that I love, supporting others through healing work, teaching, facilitating and writing…and I see that it is shifting in ways I cannot yet know or envision. Another metamorphosis is at hand, being guided and supported, with massive faith and trust, and I can’t explain how or why.

I frequently talk with other mothers who’ve lost a child, or a beloved spouse, who ask me why God would do this? How can they have faith in a divine source who would cause such pain? It is hard for me to answer, because it is simply a feeling I have, a deep belief that I don’t remember being taught, but which has emerged in me through necessity – that there is a purpose to each tiny (and huge) event in life, that each moment is truly as it is meant to be, and there are no mistakes. I know that can sound like superficial cliches, but to me it is not. A quote from our dear teacher Maria Elena Cairo (Zelie’s, Elizabeth’s and mine), that I found in large print in one of Elizabeth’s journals from age 14: “The soul does not fuck up.” That’s one wonderfully succinct way of saying it.

carl jung, jung, coming to consciousnessAnd this just floated across my screen, as photos from my computer ‘randomly’ do: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain…” from Carl Jung. Juxtaposed with that is one of my favorite teachings of the Buddha: that pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is optional, and that has stayed with me since I first read it many years ago.  It is what I choose to do with that pain that matters to me. I can feel it fully, allow the rage to move through, so immense that I want to pull up huge trees and destroy forests with my hands… I can allow the grief to pull me to the floor, sobbing, and then sometimes merging into laughter as another wave comes in, seeing the humor in the self-pity or tragic beliefs I was just holding…Sometimes now it lasts for moments, sometimes I move into days of sadness, but I don’t feel that I am suffering and I am certain that Elizabeth is not suffering. I still feel her sense of humor, her playfulness, and her love when I tune in to her presence.

I am blessed.
I have been blessed.
I will be blessed.
I know grace.
I have felt the touch of grace.
I have seen it encircle and emanate from my daughter while she was dying.
I have experienced unconditional love.
I am moved to tears by what a rich life I have lived these fifty years.
And I will be blessed with each day I am given.