Life at the Center – October 2014

Mahalo to readers who have been following the story of my mother-in-love. If you get a little sad reading this letter, cheer yourself up with the funny video at the bottom!

Once Sue decided it was time to go and got our family’s blessings to do so, she departed quickly.  She simply stopped eating and drinking on one Sunday and passed away on the next. She did it on her terms. Sue passed as if she had found a crack in the ceiling and just slipped right through. Soundlessly, peacefully, at 6:37 am, September 14, 2014 at age 85.

A favorite memory shot with
Mom Nancy and Mother-in-love Sue

Our family and friends did a great job of rallying to spend precious time with Sue during her last several months.  We all got to say our final, loving goodbyes to her with no lingering regrets. The last hug I got from her said more than any words could have.

Our younger son Govi managed to have a few wonderful conversations that last week with her by sitting up with her late into the middle of the night, after some of the meds had worn off.  He kept calling SuSu his “pretty lady” when he walked into her room. They laughed and she was able to get out a few words and even sentences. He set up a FaceTime call between Sue and her son Cliff where she got to tell him one last time, “I love you so much.”

Near the end of the week, when Sue pointed insistently at someone only she could see in the room, our older son Shankar proclaimed, “Oh! That must be your ANGEL!” After many days of fearful visions, a dawning look came over Sue’s face, and she agreed happily with Shankar. Then Govi told her, “And you’ll be OUR angel, SuSu!”

Even though it had never been done before in more than 20 years of business, the care facility gave us permission to wheel Sue’s bed’s out to the courtyard near a fountain and koi pool for her last few days. Her fellow residents were happy to see her out there. It was a beautiful, peaceful spot, and while she was out there, the hallucinations seemed to evaporate.

Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same knowing that she has wings. Victor Hugo

Our dear SuSu made deep impressions on people during her months at the facility. A nurse’s aide who called her Ms MuuMuu because of what Sue wore all the time, came out to the garden after her work shift was over. She called the silent, closed-eyed old woman her ‘beautiful princess’, and told Sue that she loved her from the bottom of her heart.

Sue passed away in my presence early in the morning. Alone with her, I said a blessing aloud, played classical music, and read The Religion of Solidarity article that I mentioned in my last letter. A nurse helped me gently change her into one of her favorite muumuu’s.

I experienced a naturalness to being with her after the passing that I would not have expected. A sweetness pervaded her corner of the room, with the morning light peeking in on her recently departed frame. When the rest of the family was about to arrive, I softly brushed her hair, wanting them to understand that it was OK to touch the body that had served this beloved woman for so long.

While I wasn’t as prepared for this passing I as thought I would be, I did the best that I could.  I feel that’s all Sue would have wanted. The glad spirit we knew as ‘Sue’ was sent off with many people’s love, released from a body of pain, now free to join the rest of the universe.

Moving in Stillness and resting in Joy with you,


PS For the longer version of this letter, which is not for the faint of heart, here is a link: Sue’s Passing/Long Version .

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