Less than two years ago, in July of 1999, my mother and I stood before our relatives and friends, bidding farewell to Ross, my brother, at his funeral.
In honor of my late brother’s 40th birthday, on Friday, March 30, 2001, I telephoned my mother. During our hour-long conversation, we discussed various topics. We covered what Ross was doing in the spirit world; to the liver cleanse diet she was beginning that same day. She was excited and hopeful about the liver cleanse diet. We completed our chat with the usual, “I love you.” My mother said she would call Monday morning, April 2nd, my 41st birthday.
Monday morning came and went. Totally out of character for her, she did not call. Knowing her so well, I was alarmed and about to call her when my telephone rang. It was my stepfather letting me know he admitted my mother to the hospital that morning. When he told me her liver was completely consumed with cancer, my heart sank. I became nauseous while attempting to absorb this information. He mentioned my mother was not informed her liver test results returned with the highest of cancer counts.
My mother’s oncologist told him the liver cancer metastasized from the breast cancer she survived exactly 20 years prior. Having studied Chinese medicine and emotional healing, I knew there was another reason. Every part of one’s body maintains a representation. The breasts symbolize the need to nurture and be nurtured. The liver maintains anger, resentment. The body will attempt to get your attention, one way or another. My mother’s body was sending her another message.
I immediately called my mother’s hospital room. In a whisper she told me she was fine and would be going home soon. I asked her if Spencer, my young son, and I could come see her in the hospital and she responded, “No, Honey, I’m fine.”
During the next eight days, I called her two to three times daily. In spite of my concern, she continued to insist it was not necessary for me to make the four-hour drive to see her. Finally, I could stand it no longer, packed for a couple of days and headed up. The date was Tuesday, April 10. Spencer stayed with his father while I was away.
That evening I walked into my mother’s hospital room and was immediately shocked at the sight of her. The woman I’d known 41 years as my mother was drastically changed. I was overwhelmed with terror, grief and shock. She and my stepfather, knowing they could hold me at bay only so long, weren’t surprised to see me.
I remained at the side of her bed until 10 that evening and we spent hours discussing her current situation. With desperation evident on my face, my mother asked, “Honey, do you believe in miracles?” I responded, “Mom, it was you who taught me to believe in miracles.” She said, “Then let’s pray for a miracle.” It was difficult for me, knowing the seriousness of her health and not revealing it to her, however, I did not want her to give up hope of living. Late that evening, she was beginning to drift in and out of a restless sleep.
Abruptly, her eyes flew open. She asked what kept flying back and forth past the left side of her head. I felt my stomach knot and asked, “Well, what does it look like?” When she replied, “Angels,” I denied what I initially thought. Instead, I told her they were there to comfort her during her stay in the hospital. Later that night before my mother went to sleep, she told me she would be going home the next day and it would not be a moment too soon. I thought to myself, “See there? She is getting better.”
I sat down in the chair next to her hospital bed, took a deep breath and a long look at her. Her eyes were closed and I assumed she fell asleep. To my surprise, in a whispered voice she asked, “What is he doing here?” I hesitantly looked over my shoulder into an empty, dimly lighted hallway. I asked, “Who, Mom? I do not see anyone.” She replied, “Ross.”
I could not see my brother’s spirit; however, observing her furrowed eyebrows, I knew she was seeing something beyond the usual reach of one’s physical eyesight. To soothe her, I told her he probably just popped in to say a quick hello. She said she did not wish to speak with him, asking me to tell him to leave. Silently, I spoke to my brother’s spirit, letting him know we appreciated his taking the time to visit. I told him at this moment the conversation was between mother and daughter. My mother’s eyes opened and she thanked me.
The next morning, I spoke with my stepfather on the telephone. He talked with her doctor and was advised she might be going home today. I jumped into my car, drove to the hospital and waited at her bedside for the doctor. It was then she told me of a dream she had the night prior after my departure from the hospital.
My mother dreamed she was still alive and several persons from the hospital staff were wheeling her to the morgue in the basement of the hospital. I felt horrible for not staying next to her hospital bed the prior night. I knew she would not have such a nightmare if I remained with her while she slept.
Her doctor walked in shortly thereafter around I immediately asked for her release papers. He put up his hands and said, “Now hold on, I said she would be released in a day or so.” I saw the pleading look in my mother’s eyes and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, you are going home today.”
I told her doctor to step into the hallway. I asked what needed to be done to expedite the process. He said he would have to make a telephone call in order to be certain the home care equipment could be delivered that morning. I responded, “Then please do it.” He said he had other patients and selfishly, I told him, “You have just one patient right now, my mother. “
The next part of our conversation hit me like an avalanche. He said, “Now look, Debbie, this is all a part of the dying process.” With my heart pounding and through my tears I told him, “No, this is a part of your dying process. Now make it happen so my mother may go home today!” My intense and demanding voice echoed throughout the hospital floor. Shortly thereafter, my mother was home.
My mother told me she knew her final chemotherapy treatment could be fatal. However, she did not have the courage to counter her doctor’s white jacket of authority. It was her feeling if she refused to undergo this final round of treatment, she would have a much better chance of surviving. Until this conversation, I was unaware of the chemotherapy treatments. Knowing I am a supporter of alternative and nutritional healing methods, she did not wish to tell me about her medical decisions. Now, she realized choosing chemotherapy was a life-threatening decision.
My rescue instincts shifted into high gear and the healing work began. I asked my mother what was killing her. She confided she held unresolved resentment for years. Her feelings were eating her alive; she knew exactly why and when these feelings began.
We discussed the terror, frustration, guilt and sense of hopelessness, which prevented her from verbalizing her feelings until now. Still, she confessed she was prepared to “die with dignity” rather than take action and make the necessary changes her body demanded. I contemplated the deliberate intentions of my mother’s Master Plan.
It was my mother’s relationship with her own being, which would also be difficult for her to approach. We covered every aspect of her life, from conception to present. Our goal was to release traces of damage from her accumulated negative experiences. Intuitively, I would mention the year her body wanted to discuss. She instantly recounted what occurred during that time frame; what deep-seated issues needed to be addressed.
During the course of our many discussions, the conversation eventually turned to nutrition and changes she needed to make. My Aunt Audrey and Uncle Ron forwarded a copy of Maureen Kennedy Salaman’s book, Nutrition: The Cancer Answer, ll. From my reading of Maureen’s research, I discovered heredity accounts for only five percent of all cancer cases. On the other hand, 70 percent of all cancer deaths are linked to nutrition! Since my mother was well educated in the field of nutrition, she knew to return to a vegetarian diet. What she was not willing to do was honor her body regarding the unresolved resentment she held.
I contacted healer friends in the Bay Area. They in turn contacted others and a network was formed on her behalf. Prayers came in from all over the country; the support was tremendous. Oddly enough, while reaching for my mother’s Healthy Healing manual by nutritional authority Linda Page, a brochure fell on my head. It was from my mother’s massage therapist. I took this as a sign to arrange for her to have a massage. As luck would have it, this particular massage therapist also did energy-balancing work. Together, we cleared the terror and grief of dying from my mother’s body until it calmed.
Her body began to reject the canned chicken broth; soon thereafter the canned vegetable broth was also refused. I would not accept the fact her body was denying our efforts. I continued to be optimistic her body would only accept the fresh organic juiced foods my stepfather and I prepared for her.
I refused to give up, regardless of our efforts and despite my recognition of the changes overtaking her. The nights were long and emotionally excruciating for us. With my head nestled next to hers, I cried endlessly, constantly begging her, “Don’t ever leave me, Mom.” She looked at me with the same furrowed brows and said, “Honey Bunny, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here for you.” For the moment, I was relieved and comforted by the sense of her spiritual immortality.
During the days, I frantically read books; reviewed faxes received from loved ones, voraciously consuming every bit of available literature on cancer and cancer cures. With knowledge in hand, I would drive to the health food stores with a list of beneficial supplements.
From a private source, because it was unavailable in the health food stores, I acquired the vitamin B17, amygdalin. My review of Ms. Salaman’s Nutrition: The Cancer Answer II educated me regarding the benefits of this supplement. In the book, Maureen advocates the early use of cancer-killing B17. It is found most abundantly in apricot kernels, is capable of killing cancer cells and also has cancer-preventative properties. In December of 2003, Maureen telephoned me, advising she now tells cancer patients, “Don’t even think of eating meat.”
Unfortunately, with the exception of water, my mother could not keep anything down. When she started bleeding from inside her mouth, I prayed the source was merely the thin tissue there. Tissue eroded by the chemotherapy was not yet replaced with new tissue. I learned from my mother, one of the terrible side effects from the chemotherapy was it caused the entire inside of her mouth to have blackened sores.
Those sores extended down her esophagus and she could barely swallow. The pain from these sores would make her eyes water. Having to watch her endure the misery made mine do the same. On one occasion her mouth bled an entire day. Finally, I secured a prescription for Vitamin K, assisting in slowing down the bleeding.
The next day, I was pulling large pieces of bloodied tissue from her mouth; all the while praying it was not coming up from her stomach. For the balance of that day, she became visibly weaker with no further desire for me to read to her. To that point, I was reading a book to her, by author Louise Hay, entitled, Empowering Women.
The following day, she asked for her pearls. At first not understanding, I was forced to have her repeat this request. My stepfather retrieved her jewelry box, producing two strands of pearls. I held one strand in each hand. She made her selection and I asked why she wanted to see them. She said she wanted them to go to Kate, the teen-age daughter of Ross, my deceased brother. She wanted Kate to wear them when she married. At that moment, the reality of my mother’s condition hit me. Unable to control myself, I ran to the bathroom crying so hard, I thought I would die.
That afternoon, my mother told me she needed an epiphany. I heard the word several times and fortunately, I knew how the word was spelled. Not knowing exactly for what my mother was asking, I went to the dictionary and looked it up. There are many definitions of the word. As I read a number of them, she would shake her head from left to right as if to say, “That’s not it.”
Finally I read the following: “A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.” She nodded her head in an up and down “yes” motion. Gently, I leaned over her and asked, “Mom, are you wondering about the spirit world, what you will be doing there and whom you will see?” Her eyes opened wide and she whispered, “Yes.”
She asked about the white light, if there is pain in the spirit world and what her duties would be when she arrived. I pointed to the pictures and displays of angels throughout her home. I explained to her what I learned from Ross and others who crossed over into this dimension. I told her the only emotion she would find on the “other side” is that of pure love. She closed her eyes and smiled.
The following day, no longer able to endure the pain, my mother requested morphine. I asked her to repeat this request three times to be certain of what I was hearing. Sensing her agony, I telephoned her home health care nurse, who came over and taped the injection to her stomach. My mother did not flinch. I looked at the woman lying on the bed in front of me, the woman I’d known my entire life as “my mom” and realized I no longer recognized this person.
A cold chill ran through my body. I telephoned my mother’s minister, asking her to come over. She visited with my mother, reciting several Bible versus to comfort her. Later that night, I stood next to her bed with my hands face down on her torso. I felt the slight breeze of my mother’s spirit departing her body, leaving behind an empty physical shell. Having held several of my farm animals at the time of their death, I was familiar with this feeling.
My mother lived through one more night. Terrified of having her expire while I slept by her side as I had 10 nights prior, I chose not to sleep next to her that night. My stepfather filled the vacant spot on the couch. The next morning, I bolted out of bed at I raced to my mother’s side, all the while expecting to find a lifeless form.
Instead, I found a completely unrecognizable being. Stunned at the ghastly site of her, I stood back not knowing what to do or think. At last very quietly, I sat down next to her bed, wrapping myself in her favorite blanket. I was in and out of the chair until All the while I thought to myself, “For what, on GOD’s green earth, is she waiting?” Finally, it dawned on me to leave her alone.
I decided to take a bath and “relax” a few minutes. As I was leaning back in my mother’s bathtub, my heart began to pound and my stomach felt uneasy. Jumping out of the tub, I wrapped myself in a towel and ran to her side. Sensing her death was near; I called my stepfather to come quickly. As he walked up and stood beside me next to her bed, my mother took her last breath of life. It was , Saturday, April 21. My mother was only 63 years old.
A family friend operates our local mortuary. I telephoned, telling him my mother just died. He and an associate immediately came over to the house. With them, they brought a gurney and a body bag. Together, we lifted my mother from her former resting place onto the bag, which lay on top of the gurney. When I tucked her body in, I tenderly touched her face one last time. After a final long gaze at her, I zipped the bag closed. The gurney was rolled out of our living room and into an waiting van.
That night as I lay in bed, I cried with barely the energy to do so. Overwhelmed with a feeling of emptiness, fear and being alone, I could not believe I was still alive. Then, I remembered my mother’s words, “Honey Bunny, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here for you.” At that moment, I knew her spirit would guide me the rest of my life.
The same applies when I long for Ross, my brother, who took his life on
July 4, 1999. I say his name and once again, I feel he is by my side. Whenever I need my mother, all I have to do is call for her. As always throughout my life, she will be here for me.
In loving memory of Frances Herald Chapter,
December 19, 1937, . San Francisco, CA
April 21, 2001, Redding, CA.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on the snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there,
I did not die.
Struve and Laporte