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.

Leaving Her Body…

Elizabeth Blue, Jade Beall, Elizabeth Meagher

Elizabeth Blue ~ April, 2012 by Jade Beall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One year ago today, the email below I sent to our close friends and family. Now I share it here, with those of you who have joined me on this transformative, healing journey.

As I prepared for this first anniversary of my daughter Elizabeth’s death, I anticipated it would be challenging. I’ve been learning how to care for myself, my needs, better and better throughout this time, so I asked close family and friends to gather, a very small group who knew and love Elizabeth (and me!) dearly, to come and spend time together.  We’ve spent the last couple of days telling stories, looking at photos, doing art projects with Elizabeth’s image, eating, laughing, resting, loving Elizabeth and each other…

We plan to begin the process of releasing her ashes today, spreading some in one of her favorite places in Tucson, with plans to spread more in Berkeley and Hawaii later, two of her other favorite places. I honor her and remember her every day, and oddly, today doesn’t feel as momentous or intense as I expected – I’m wondering now if the emotion will come when everyone leaves and I’m alone again…in this first year, even the hardest days have been fine, as I’ve watched myself experiencing emotion like never before, and always able to be aware that it will pass, that all I need to do is be present and keep trusting my heart. Thank you all for being here with me in this first year. Your presence from near and far, old friends and new, strangers and family, has meant so much. I am so grateful for each of you. Thank you.

Leaving Her Body

September 23, 2012

Dear Ones,

Elizabeth left her body this morning around 4:30 am.  She was peaceful, she knew I was right with her, holding her hand, talking to her and loving her. Something woke me at 4am, and I went to check on her. As I heard her breathing, I knew she was very close, and sat down to be with her.  I was thinking it could be a few hours still, so was about to lay down on the couch, when I heard her take one breath, and then realized it was her last one.  Her heart continued for a while…

Since yesterday morning her breathing had changed, and Greg (her dad) and I had spent the whole day sitting close, talking to her, telling her how much we love her, and how many people love her and have been affected by her.  She was mostly in another world, but every few hours would open her eyes, and was still so clear, with the same love and grace in her gaze.

I am so grateful for the gentle waves of these passages, that each new wave has washed over, giving me time to adjust, to accept, to move into the next stage gracefully, diving in deep and emerging with an ever more cracked open heart, and knowing there’s still more and still more….

As usual, we are doing something a bit unusual – we are keeping Elizabeth’s body at home for a few days, having cleaned, anointed and prepared her body ourselves.  We will have a visiting time here, for anyone who is in Tucson, if you want to say goodbye to her body, and connect with me and family.  She will be cremated in a couple of days.

We are also planning a large, public memorial service in 2-3 weeks.  We will honor and celebrate her life, with music, stories, photos and her poetry.  Do not feel you need to come and see her body,  it is simply a possibility if you want to say goodbye in this way.

More to come…

love and blessings,
Lucia

This photo is of her last night, still beautiful and at peace.

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, hospice

Elizabeth Blue her last night, 9/22/12

Elizabeth Blue,  Jade Beall, Elizabeth Meagher

Elizabeth Blue, April, 2012 by Jade Beall

Slowing Down – emails from the depths, September, 2012

Slowing Way Down

Some of the last emails I sent, about my older daughter Elizabeth Blue’s journey towards the ultimate release, from the two weeks before her transition last year. 

September 14, 2012

Dear Ones,
things here are slowing waaay down.  No words now, sometimes nodding or shaking her head in response to a question, sometimes that seems too much effort.

Elizabeth still has no pain, is comfortable and has no fear that I feel…there are lots of folks assisting her, both here and in the other realms too.  She’s not eating still, and only taking small sips of water.  The hospice nurse and our doctor/friend Ann Marie assure us that all is progressing as expected and in the best possible way as far as being peaceful and comfortable.  Even throughout the day there are changes, as tonight she had a hard time taking one of the medicines through a straw, so we skipped that one…it’s probably only days left now, but it’s still hard to say.  She’s breathing fine, a bit different now, and very inward, very much connected with the other worlds now.

Today 10 of Elizabeth’s friends came to say goodbye, led by Samantha, her closest friend, and it was so beautiful.  Full of tears, laughter, stories, reminiscences – they each took a turn holding her hand, kneeling by her bedside and talking to her, kissing her, loving her and telling her goodbye. It was exquisite.  They were all so loving, so respectful and sweet with us.  Amazing.

Feeling how precious we each are, remembering to tell those you love how you feel, letting the small things go, knowing that each day is precious, each smile, each kiss… for us all, not just Elizabeth.

sending love to you all ~ if you’re receiving this email know that I love you.
love,
Lucia

Samantha Salazar, Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, hospice

Elizabeth’s best friend Samantha and their circle of friends came to say goodbye, 9/14/2012

Lucia Maya, Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, hospice

Lucia and Elizabeth snuggle, 9/12/12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 15, 2012

…a rare and REALLY hard day, watching Elizabeth visibly recede, and I was compelled, like I was a zombie, to watch some of E’s video diaries, of her when she was healthy, and then right when she was finishing chemo, and so hopeful and herself… it was beyond heartbreaking, and I’ve been avoiding going back and revisiting other times, but today i got pulled in.  The rest of the day I can barely be present with her. Can’t sit still, am angry, rageful, so sad…

September 19, 2012

Dear Ones,
Elizabeth hasn’t been eating for 2 weeks now, except for these few times: it was lovely that she ate what seemed to be her last meal from Zelie, some fruit and toast for breakfast.  Then 4 days later when Greg arrived, with her favorite dessert, carrot cake, she ate a few bites, and then our dear friend Tita brought by some food, and Greg prepared and fed Elizabeth a whole meal of beans, rice, avocado, quesadilla – all her favorite foods, and it was so beautiful, her being able to receive that from her dad, who has such a deep connection to food and sharing his love for people through food…Then I was writing to him about how lovely that was, and realizing that I couldn’t remember the last food I’d fed her, and felt really sad.  A few hours later I offered her food again, (now days since she’d said yes to eating) and she said yes, as though she knew what I’d been thinking.  I fed her a perfect peach, and she gave me the gift of being able to feed her one more time…

She’s had almost no water for that long too (just enough to take pills and a few more sips), though the last few days it’s been hard for her to swallow, so she gets no pills, only 2 medications to give now, both liquid.  She has occasional ice chips, but often says no to that too.

She started having some pain a couple of days ago, so has had liquid morphine 3 times, but no pain yesterday or today.  She still has tremors/shakiness so gets liquid lorazepam a couple of times a day for that.  She’s sleeping much of each day, partly from the medication, and partly from having so little energy. She’s wanting to be alone more, doesn’t want any visitors and some days doesn’t want me around, which is different.  So it really feels like she’s disconnecting from this world…

Given all this, it’s quite remarkable that when there are no medications in her, she’s still quite clear, with a small smile to greet me in the morning, and this morning gave a thumbs up to my questions of how she slept and how she was feeling…She still rubs her lips together when i put lip balm on, like she always has, just very slowly now.  And she doesn’t want me to massage or put lotion on her now – it seems like too much stimulation, and bringing her back into the awareness of the body.

She’s not been talking for quite a while, but can still sometimes nod or shake her head, though even that takes effort now, using a lot of energy.   She is still comfortable and seems very peaceful.

So there’s no way to say how much longer she might be here, though without any water it seems it can’t be much more.  She is amazingly strong, and so courageous and loving.  She did say yes a few days ago when I asked if she feels ready to leave, and if she feels that she’s completed everything she came here to do.  That hadn’t been true a few weeks ago, so I was grateful to hear that.

Sending much love to all of you, and connecting at the heart…
love,
Lucia

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, hospice

Elizabeth today (9/19/12), with her newest blue bracelet and a silky blanket under her head, both from Aunt Tashe, with her bunny by her side. She’s wearing a favorite ring from my Aunt Amy. Surrounded and enveloped in so much love…

Hospice – last week of August, 2012

Slipping Closer to the Edge…

These writings are from about a month before my daughter Elizabeth Blue died.  She was at home and needing 24 hour care, having had a stroke following unsuccessful surgery and chemo to remove the cancer that had spread to her brain. She was in a peaceful state of grace that is hard to capture in words and images.

August 24, 2012: a group email

dear ones,

again, I’m not sure how long it’s been since writing, but when I start to receive texts and emails asking what is going on, I can feel it’s time to share more outside of this small and yet expansive, world I’m living in.

Day to day, it’s hard to see change, much like when you have a newborn baby, and can’t see how quickly she is changing because you’re so immersed. But when I look at photos of Elizabeth now, I can see that her head is more swollen, and I know she now has a bump on the back of her neck that is very likely another tumor, or one that has spread, so there is evidence that the cancer is growing.   She has also had several episodes of muscle tremors, with her heart racing, which is uncomfortable for her, but responds to muscle-relaxants. It is likely a sign of neurological symptoms from the tumor, and may indicate other symptoms to come.

Some days she seems even less able to track things in a linear way, but this seems so natural now it’s hard to notice the change.  Today also for the first time she said her mind was busy when I asked (rather than quiet), using her hands to show me “chatty”.   She often uses her hands to communicate, though she is able to speak. She has said she is “doing work”, working through some things internally on this journey that need to be completed.  She is aware of the support she has, from all of us, in addition to the unseen forces.

There have been many visitors, (including the nurse and nurse’s aide 2 times a week), which she seems to enjoy though gets tired quickly. She says yes to everyone who has asked to visit, though I limit the schedule so she (and I) aren’t too tired. Often I am happiest when I have time alone to just sit with Elizabeth, like the other morning when I played Coleman Barks’ album, his readings of Rumi poetry, and we listened together, which was a beautiful way to start our day.  The physical tasks of feeding, changing, turning her, giving medicines at the right time, etc, often take up most of the time in the day, but I try to find times still when we can simply sit and be…

We have fewer people here, which is easier in some ways, harder in others.  Tashe and Terri (my sister and sister-in-law) were here which was immensely helpful. My mom is leaving this weekend, and it’s been wonderful to have her. She’s been patient and generous with me, even when I’m not at my best, not as patient and loving as I’d like to be.  Julianna (my younger daughter, 19 years old) heads back to NYU on Tuesday, and I’m going to miss her terribly.  She’s been home all summer, the longest time we’ve had together in many years and I’ve enjoyed every day with her.  During this difficult time she’s been just amazing – so loving, supportive, thoughtful, helpful, generous and just beautiful to be with. She is ready to go back to school, and though I can’t imagine how I could function in that world now, I can see that it will be a good place for her right now.

So next week it will be just Zelie (my partner), Elizabeth and me here, and we’ll see how that goes. Zelie is wonderful – patient and loving, and really sweet to see the two of them together. Greg (Elizabeth’s father) continues to come every week from Friday to Sunday, and brings Elizabeth treats from Berkeley and good company as he sits with her for hours each day, and he just cooked us all a wonderful dinner.  We may call on friends and hospice volunteers more, taking up offers of meals and perhaps just to come and sit with Elizabeth so we can do errands or have some time for emails and maybe even some breaks…

It doesn’t feel like Elizabeth’s ready to leave us yet, and yet we are aware it could happen at any time.  Most days it simply feels like I’m caring for her while she’s very ill, disabled, but really hard to see/believe that she’s dying.  The hardest day for me so far was going to Elizabeth’s apartment for the first time without her, and seeing all her belongings: her artwork, clothes, lists of things to do, all the outward ordinary objects that connect me to her in her previous self, all the ways we spent time together, the gifts I bought her, the stories of getting these shoes in Seattle, or that friend who made her that drawing, etc…it was just heartbreaking. Then a couple of days later I went back, and already it had shifted, and was much easier…so time continues to help, and continuing to be present to whatever degree possible.

I’ve been in the process of writing this in bits for days, as that’s how life is right now, and this feels broken up and unsatisfying, as some of the days do.  There’s an unsettled quality right now, and also an immense amount of love and gratitude in each day. Grateful for all that has been and all that is.

love and gratitude to you all,

Lucia

We managed to take Elizabeth outside in a reclining wheelchair to the backyard last week, which she’d really wanted to do:

Elizabeth Blue. hospice,

Elizabeth Blue on her expedition outside, 8/2012

Elizabeth Blue, hospice, wheelchair,

Elizabeth with Julianna and Greg, 8/2012

Elizabeth Blue, hospice, reclining wheelchair,

Elizabeth with Grandma, 8/2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 28, 2012 – from Lucia’s Journal

Tonight I had the thought to tell Elizabeth that I would willingly trade places with her, sacrifice my life for hers, and then I realized how arrogant that was, the idea that my life was better then hers, my situation, my potential future, better than hers.  I saw in that instant that her life and situation, however long, has nothing wrong with it, nothing that she needs to “trade” for.  I shared this all with her, and she agreed, nodding.  I finished by saying that I wanted her to know that if I could, and she wanted, I would willingly give my life for hers.