Present Tense

2016: On completion…

mom-and-dad2016. A year that lived up to its destiny.  In numerology, this was a ‘9’ year.  9 represents completion and that is exactly what this year has been for me.  Endings, goodbyes, letting go of all that no longer serves me.  Closing the circle on a journey that began several years ago.

On December 28th around 3:45 p.m. my mother took her last breath, as I sat on her bed with my hand on her chest.  It was peaceful and sacred and felt completely natural as I sat with her through her transition into spirit.

I won’t go into all of the particulars, other than to say that hospice is such a fantastic resource and I predict that our next big national discussion will be how we die.  Hospice plays such an integral part in the process and providing help and dignity, to not only the sick and dying, but the families who are often overwhelmed.  The hospice folks seemed to magically appear, exactly when we needed them.  It was almost mystical.

Five years ago, I would NEVER have even entertained the notion of sitting with my mother as she died.  I would have found excuses and justifications for staying as far away as possible.  It seems like that would be hard to admit, but I know myself and I can honestly say that I couldn’t handle it.  I wasn’t mature enough.

But, we change.  We evolve, particularly if we are open to it and often, the universe conspires to change us and open us up via shocking events and losses.

Until October 2013, when I was almost 54 years old, I had not really had to deal with death.  I feared it and dreaded losing my parents in particular, but in a compressed period, death has come and forced me to look at it.

Two dogs, a parent and a dear friend all passed in fairly quick succession before my mom began to fail.  I can see now that every one of these losses served a purpose. I suffered and felt grief that I never thought I could bear.  Each successive death brought back the pain of the others.

But, with each loss, I learned to cope and I also allowed my heart to crack open and my fear to dissipate.  I delved into death and dove into death.  As I survived the deaths of those I loved, I began to understand that death isn’t to be feared.  It is to be celebrated. It’s a change of address for their spirits.  And we all make that move one day.  Death begins at birth.

My mother always said she hoped that she would die peacefully in her sleep, but rarely do we get to choose our mode of passing.

With the help of hospice, she did get her wish for the most part. Unfortunately, some painful and violent falls preceded that peaceful transition, but I believe that was her soul’s way of telling us she was ready.

I was the youngest child.  Her last born and my siblings are all older; 15, 13 and 11 years my senior.  It felt fitting that as the last born, I should be with her as she died.  I was the last one whose heart beat with hers and I was there to feel her last heartbeats.

As I felt those last beats and watched her final breaths, I felt curiosity and relief and yes, beauty.  I did not feel fear or revulsion or panic.  The circle was closed.  Her life was complete, as was my role in helping her die.

We moved back to Michigan in the summer of 2013.  When people asked me what brought me back to my home state after being gone for 27 years, I couldn’t answer them. I honestly didn’t know.  It happened quickly and with some invisible guidance that I just didn’t question.

I loved Colorado and I miss it desperately, but for some reason, we needed to be here.  Now, I can clearly see the plan and the unfolding.  I moved back to help my mom die.  In the process, I lost others who prepared me for this mission. The other deaths forced me to come to terms with the impermanence of everything.

I also think that it’s no coincidence that our northern Michigan farm sits behind a cemetery.  I’ve spent hours wandering through it, feeling the energy, pondering the notion that all of its residents used to walk the earth, just as I am now.  Some died relatively young, but many lived into their 8th, 9th and even 10th decades and now they are a memory.  As we all will be. And that’s okay.  It’s not scary, it is the human condition and better to embrace it, than deny it.

And so, 2016 and I fulfilled our destiny.  This was a year of completion.  My obligation and commitment to my mother is finished; we watched over her, protected her and ultimately, fulfilled her wishes.  She and my dad’s ashes will be combined and buried together sometime in the early summer.  They are back together in the ether, surely dancing and laughing and holding hands.

RIP Mama. RIP Ember.  Thank you 2016; you have been a gift.

If you feel moved to make a donation in my mother’s memory, I would love to suggest Great Lakes Hospice Foundation .  Thank you.

January 1, 2017 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. My sincere condolences. You are wonderful and I am sure you are who you are because of your parents.

    Comment by Big Mike | January 1, 2017 | Reply

    • Thank you, Michael:)
      Hope you’re well!

      Comment by janelondon | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  2. Beautiful picture. They are together again. Sorry for all your losses.

    Comment by Patricia | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  3. my condolences to you, Jane. I am touched by your writings and moved by your spirituality May 2017 be a good year for you with positive vibes. Looking forward to more of your writings

    Comment by ljurg | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  4. I’m sorry for your loss! My mother passed away on Dec 30th in hospice care, as well. Unfortunately, I did not get out of Denver soon enough to be with her at that time. This a huge blow, but I know she is now in a world of peace with my Father, her parents, and other close people that left before her. Fortunately, I did get to spend 2 weeks with her before her slow decline to the other side.

    Comment by Linette | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  5. Oh Jane…I am so sorry for your loss…for your year. It seems many people, including me, have lost this year. Some knew it was coming, others, like me, were blindsided.

    I hope I’m able to embrace the loss as you have at some point. But not now. Not yet. I’m not ready.

    You are an amazing women, and I hope to be half the person you’ve become.

    God bless you friend.


    Comment by shellybelly12 | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  6. Your writings make us think… and bring strength and wisdom. May 2017 bring you much happiness.

    Comment by Anita | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  7. jane your words move me to tears sometimes…i have never met you, i listened to you everyday when you were on the radio in denver..i always thought your no nonsense common sense was something to be admired and i still feel that way…i had my own near death experience in october of 2015…after a gallbladder operation i developed sepsis and spent 66 days in the hospital…nurses told me i was a miracle because i survived…i question why sometimes..why did i survive when so many dont? it has made me see death in a different light and not to be afraid…i hope that your mom and dad are indeed dancing together and i hope that you have a much needed rest for yourself..thank you for sharing this journey with us

    Comment by lin | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  8. Love you Jane…..

    Comment by Pat R | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  9. I’m sorry for your loss but congratulate you on your acceptance of death as a part of the cycle of life. I appreciate your blogs.

    Comment by Karen | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  10. Your words and experiences are inspiring. I read a recent quote which relates to what you are expressing and have learned. “We will all someday be merely a memory to some, make sure you are a good one”. Thanks for you model of courage and perspective about this past year. I know I personally have learned a lot, walking this journey of my own.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  11. Peace in your heart Jane.

    Comment by Pam | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  12. So touched by your words Jane, may 2017 bring you peace and fond memories. Brian and I love you and your wisdom.

    Comment by Alan r Ochsenbein | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  13. I know it gives you peace that she was ready

    Comment by Marcia Charles | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  14. Beautifully written, how wonderful that you got to be with your mother as she transitioned. Thank you for sharing your experience. Blessings and peace to you.

    Comment by Tracey | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  15. Jane, you used to be part of my every day – driving in to work and listening to you and Dom do your thing. I was sad when you left, until I rediscovered you here and on Facebook. Thank you for being open and kind. I’m facing a rather slow decline myself, and as I remind myself of what you’ve said to me, I am comforted. And you still make me laugh too. I hope 2017 is less, well, tumultuous for you. Sometimes, after a deeply spiritual period of learning, we just need to rest and reflect. Be good to yourself, enjoy your pups and PC. I’m looking forward to where you take us in 2017 (or for the next 365 days, however you choose to mark it…)

    Comment by Jennifer | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  16. Condolences on the loss of your mother. It is never easy to lose a parent, but we all must face it. Your writings are so deep and very thoughtful; they have made me look deeper into my own life and relationships in a very positive way. May the new year bring you happiness and continued good spiritual health. We miss you in Denver.

    Comment by Terri | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  17. Jane, what a beautiful tribute to your mother! Being the youngest in my family also, I was the one with my mother when she passed and experienced many of the same feelings! They were both blessed with long life! It is much harder to accept if it is a young person! Art and I were lucky enough to be with your parents and sister on their alaska trip so we knew what great people they both were!!
    Love and hugs!

    Comment by Karen willaredt | January 2, 2017 | Reply

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