My mother died 24 years ago in late October, and we held her wake on All Soul’s Day, November 1. With all preparations completed, my father, brother and I were looking at a long, sleepless night ahead. It was All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain, the night when the veil between the living and dead is the thinnest.
On a late October night the river bears no resemblance to the brilliant, blue-green paradise of summer. Our island home was now unpopulated – summer homes closed up, their dark windows staring blindly across the river, where a chill wind shoved angry waves up the river.
So, of course, we went out in the boat. Not any boat, but a big yacht that my brother skippered. As we sailed up a river dotted with family memories, we shivered, clutching cups of instant coffee for warmth, peering into the gloom.
Her passing had left us all stunned, with a deep sense of unreality. We hadn’t even begun to understand how much strength and stability she provided to each of us. So the dark and barren world felt somehow just right: the earth was blighted without her. All growing things and all joy had gone away with her, Persephone, but never to return.
I wasn’t searching for contact with my mother on this eerie voyage. I had already spent the three days following her death in meditation, helping her soul fly free to where she was meant to be. In truth, I was afraid of her angry spirit. My mother’s judgement has proved as devastating in death as it was in life.
Today I want connection with the woman who was bold, curious and creative, and asked the big questions of life. The woman who would have a bad day and take good care of us all anyway. And the woman who has known the universe beyond the veil.
Stay if you will, Go if you must. So mote it be.