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I held my Mom and hugged her all day–and most of the night–for the last three months of her life. I did everything for her. I was completely drained. Caring for my mom constituted a physical and emotional challenge of unfathomable proportions.
Those three months taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. Caring for my mom was one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Remember I said gifts come in unexpected forms? On two separate occasions during those last three months, my mom had long periods of being completely lucid. I was talking with the mom I had known all my life until her mental state shifted at age 80.
We had the most meaningful conversations we ever had in those precious moments. We said everything we needed to say to each other, so all wounds were healed and my mom could leave this lifetime knowing how much she was cherished. I could live my life knowing I did all I could do for her. More importantly, she was aware of that truth.
In those two moments, when time seemed to stand still, I learned another invaluable lesson: the soul perpetually exists as a perfect and intact entity. The soul is omnipresent. Regardless of the physical or emotional or mental state of the human being, the soul knows exactly what is happening. The person may not be able to communicate. The soul, being the True person, always knows every minute, in great detail, about that Divine spirit.
We really are Divine Beings living human experiences. Even through all that horrific suffering, I knew my mom’s soul remained at Peace. I feel so grateful for that knowing, for that present.
Now I live my life being in service to others, no hidden agendas or expectations. I feel free to love people just as they are and just as they are not. Now I really understand that people come here to work together to create our world. In every encounter, we are at once teacher and student. We come to share our gifts with others. We also come to receive gifts from others.
One of the most impactful experiences of my life came in the care-taking of my mother during the last ten months of her life. In addition to the devastating physical deterioration caused by cancer, my mom’s mental functioning was like that of a two-year old. She was unable to do anything for herself. She thought I was her mother. She clung to me and was uncomfortable when I was out of her sight.
When my mom had the mini-stroke that took away her ability to live on her own, I was just completing a three-year struggle to rebuild my own life following a brain injury. There I was, 49 years old, just ready to take on living my own life again for the first time when I became my mother’s parent around-the-clock.
I felt cheated and very angry. I resented having to put my life on hold yet again–indefinitely. (I did not know she had cancer at the time. To me, this was the ultimate unwilling sacrifice that could last many years.)
I threw a major pity party for myself. I made the situation all about me and how my mom’s illness affected me. No matter how I looked at the situation, all I saw were unfair circumstances coupled with cruel timing.
I received a priceless gift when I heard someone say, “It is never about you. It is always about the other person.” While the words came from a salesman teaching how to make sales, the message instantly changed my world.
I thought about what it must be like for my mom, this amazing woman who had run all three of her boss’ businesses and single-handedly raise my brother and me at a time when women did not work outside the home. In that moment, and for the rest of her life, I felt only love, honor, respect, and never-ending gratitude.