Shortly before the stroke that would lead to my mother’s death, she told me that my dad had been to visit her. She was adamant it was real, and I didn’t want to push the matter, assuming it was vascular dementia at work, even though the rest of her conversation seemed entirely coherent and lucid. I dismissed it because my father had died four years earlier. If I were having that same conversation with her now, I wouldn’t be so dismissive, especially since I have heard my mother’s voice recently, eight years after her death. She died in hospital, and when it was close to the end, I didn’t want to leave her. I couldn’t bear the thought of her rising from her body and not seeing anyone sat around her bedside. She had been very distressed that dad died a short time after she left the nursing home, and so she wasn’t there with him at the end. Knowing how important that was to her, I didn’t want to be absent when she left her body. I had been at the hospital nineteen hours that day, and a nurse insisted I ‘go home and get some sleep,’ with the promise that she would phone me if it looked like mum wasn’t going to make it until I came back. I went home and got two hours sleep before being woken by the nurse telling me to ‘come now.’ The problem was that ‘now’ was rush hour and what was a thirty-minute drive earlier took two and a half hours. By the time we arrived my mother had passed on, and I felt awful about that. I felt I’d let her down and I was only able to come to terms with that much later when I began to understand what happened to me after that. Her body was still warm when we got there, and I still felt her presence. I looked up at one point and ‘saw’ an ellipsoid shape over her bed that reminded me of my experiences with the presence of God, only instead of being limitless and extending beyond the room, it was contained in a shape similar to a used bar of soap and hovering a few feet above her body. It felt pure and like the presence of God, and at the same time, not so. I struggled to make sense of it at the time and only later realised what it was.
Her funeral was to take place over a hundred miles away from the hospital, and so I wanted to see her body at the funeral home to reassure myself that we were burying mum and not someone else. When I walked into the room, I said ‘she’s not here.’ I felt it immediately, the room was empty; her body was there, but not her presence. Her body struck me as being like a costume that she wore for this life, but the real mum had moved on.
Putting together the absence of her presence at the funeral home and ‘seeing’ (which I put in inverted commas because I’m pretty sure I was the only person seeing this) the kind of god-like presence over her bed I suddenly realised what I’d seen at the hospital. It was mum’s presence, out of her body. She knew we were there because she was still hanging around, even though she’d left her body. When I finally realised that, I felt peace over not having been there when she died. He presence over the bed felt pure, god-like, mum like, but with all the crap taken out. All of the good, but none of the bad. I suspect this was the bigger part of mum, and it’s the closest I’ve got to ‘seeing’ what the bigger part of us looks like.