“The idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Can you ever be prepared for something so completely unexpected and devastating? The past couple years Laurie had been struggling to heal from Lyme disease, and ever the stoic and positive woman, you rarely heard her complain. She did not let on how poorly she was feeling, and when she did she, downplayed it with affirmations of how she was healing and would be stronger than before. We all knew she was trying to overcome this obstacle with positivity, and naively, there was a part of me that believed her. Or maybe I just wanted to believe her, not wanting to entertain that these could be permanent symptoms. I wanted to believe she would always be strong and healthy. When she started having pain in her chest we thought, the doctors knew. We trusted them too much. This was exactly the same mistake Laurie had felt she’d made with others, and now it seemed we were doomed to repeat it with her. It all seems so foolish in hindsight. Ezra drove down to Iowa to be with his parents when she had a stress test. The doctor didn’t pursue further tests, or thoroughly investigating as we now know, and instead moved on to try and find another culprit for the pain.
All of this does not matter in hindsight, except that it was her heart. Her beautiful heart. It was this heart that made everyone fall in love with her. A heart that could encompass so much love and make everyone feel so special and cared for and respected. She made you feel like the most important person in the world. It’s hard not to look back and wonder if I made her feel the same in return. She was my mother too and best friend and did I take that for granted? I’ve heard about the regret people feel after a loved one passes, but I’ve never experienced it before. Now I know. Its pointless to dwell, but I have regret from that last weekend we spent with her. Ezra and I were so exhausted from our trips back-and-forth to Alexandria. We were unusually out of sorts and wrapped up in our own exhaustion and world. Months later we still talk about how strangely we both felt that weekend. But how could we have know this was the last precious weekend we’d spend together. I thought we’d see her again the following weekend, again, how foolish.
Laurie passed away early on April 6th, 2017. Writing this is surreal and feels empty. The woman that I would spend hours on the deck with, confiding in and drinking wine. We could connect in such a soulful way. She told me I was her daughter, and I believed she meant it. She thought I was way better than I am. She thought I was spiritual and calm and peaceful. She thought much more highly of me than I deserved. She was the person I looked to for guidance, one of the few people I really trusted. She was the one who was spiritual and peaceful and giving. I’m not sure she ever quite knew her worth. People like Laurie are just so heartbreakingly rare. I have never met anyone like her. I see so much of her in Indra and this gives me immense peace and comfort. My daughter got to meet her Grandma, although, she will never understand just how incredible she was. That is what makes me the most sad. That she will never know and remember her Grandma’s love. But it was also having Indra in our lives during this time that lightened our hearts and offered a welcome distraction.
The following month was a blur and hard to look back on. That first week we stayed at Josh and Jill’s with Dave. We were all together, day in and day out. We needed to be together, and has since bound us more closely. We had Laurie’s Celebration of Life of life in Iowa. It did not feel like a celebration even though I know Laurie would have wanted it to be. It was a time to get through and survive, and then try to figure out how to move forward. Ezra and I decided to move to Iowa to be with Dave for awhile. The decision felt good. Healing.
As a family unit we all bonded together, each others’ anchors as we sorted through the grief and shock. None of it felt real. How could our Laurie be gone? Going through every possible scenario and trying to figure out where we went wrong, or what could have done differently never made it easier. We never got answers. We just had to accept that our lives were forever changed. The woman we love so dearly, our rock, had passed on. Now it was up to us to honor her through her memories and the valuable lessons she taught us all.
Her three grandchildren in the matching pjs she gave.
Laurie’s ashes. Indra started touching the box and kissed it.
Writing messages of love on these lanterns.
Finding joy amongst Laurie’s daffodils on Indra’s first Easter.Nine Months