My Mom's Final Days Were Filled with Unexpected Gifts and Magic

Stacey Aaronson

My Mom's Final Days Were Filled with Unexpected Gifts and Magic

Stacey Aaronson

Growing up with a mom who had me at sixteen, I frolicked in a delusion that she’d never get old. After all, she was always the youngest of all my friends’ mothers, sometimes by half. We’d been taken for sisters her entire adulthood, so even when we did grow older together, I knew we’d be silly and playful the way we’d been all our lives. Within the particular brand of Gilmore Girls–like us-ness we’d cultivated over the years, my mom and I had already proven that, after five wacky and wonderful decades together, we were destined to remain young at heart forever.

I never imagined that the unparalleled bond my mom and I shared in this lifetime would physically end when she was only 68 years old. 

The word resilience practically defined my mom. She became a mother when she was just a child herself, survived a near-fatal ectopic pregnancy at age 30, and bore a diagnosis of MS at 49 years old. Though her mobility slowly declined in the years that followed, she experienced a miraculous near reversal that took her from relying on the rolling walker she’d been loath to accept as a crutch, to walking independently with only a slight waver in her stride. So when a severe intestinal blockage sent her to the emergency room in August of 2019, it seemed unthinkable that a cancerous mass could be the cause. 

Once again, my mom had narrowly survived. Only this time, the plan for her recovery was a dual endeavor: The two of us going to an esteemed, cutting-edge clinic over the border where she would be flooded with immune-boosting therapies. And her tumors did shrink. And we were both profoundly thankful to have chosen a healing path that resonated so deeply with both of our sensibilities.

But lingering, unhealed, and emotional wounds and a less-than-happy marriage impeded further healing for my mom. Within a year, the cancer popped up again as a wakeup call that all wasn’t right inside my mom’s youthful, but burdened body. This time, though, once she assessed all her options, she elected to go home with hospice.

And thus began our final nine days together. 

I asked myself: If I had the choice of how to lose my mom, what would it look like? Of all the scenarios—sudden death in an accident or during a surgery, her not remembering me, a drawn-out, painful illness, to name a few of the worst—the way it was playing out was actually the most gentle, graceful, and humane way it could happen. She was home; we had the luxury of being together, her lucidity and ability to manage pain, her decision-making capability, my flexibility with work . . . the list went on. Yes, I decided. If in some fantasy world, the Divine had given me a menu of options for how I would say goodbye to my mom, this is what I would choose. And for that wish being granted to be my reality, I recognized what a gift it was and felt supremely grateful.

 -- Excerpt from “Raising, and Losing, My Remarkable Teenage Mother”

As caregiving goes, the tasks were minimal for me—nothing compared to what so many take on in caring for their ailing parents. During those first couple of days, in fact, we still took pleasure in our signature witty banter. But the truth was, my mom had come home to die. It wasn’t that I didn’t know that, but even with my optimistic, appreciative perspective of our particular situation, the reality suddenly hit me hard that I was going to essentially allow my beautiful mom to waste away before my eyes.

While I didn’t quite know what to expect, I kept reminding myself to be in the moment and to not project ahead, because these moments were going to be gone before I knew it—and I didn’t want to have any regrets. 

Is there anything I want to ask her? I wondered. Anything I want to know that maybe I’ve forgotten, knowing I have the gift of this finite time?

Yes, my heart was breaking in two; I couldn’t imagine my life without her. But at the same time, I truly believed my mom’s leaving at this time must have some divinity in it and it was up to me to find it, as much as it was shattering me in the physical world. And so, because we’d always had this open, outwardly loving relationship, I decided there was nothing left to do in the days ahead but to just keep on being us. 

Within only a few days, however, my mom began sleeping more and communicating less. But what occurred in that magical pocket of time would change my life forever. 

My dear friend, who is a gifted intuitive, reached out to tell me she had an unexpected soul encounter with my mom. During the exchange, my mom revealed with complete cognizance what she was experiencing in the dreamtime. A segment of that profound pre-transition phase follows:

“I’m the same—whole, thoughtful, full faculties—only somewhere different, slightly elevated, on another plane, right across the veil. I think in my own voice. I hear myself without using words. It’s rather cool and expanded . . . I want to stay if only I could capture this expansiveness and keep its wisdom on your plane. What joy I can spread knowing what I have here! . . . I am separating from the flesh yet nothing has changed. The ability to communicate remains . . . I’m working it out. It’s going to be grand, just you wait and see . . .”

Five days later, after being present for my mom’s last breath as I tearfully released her to move on to her next grand adventure, the final words of that encounter, the ones that were expressly directed to me, filled my heart:

“I’m sorry to leave but it’s not in vain. 

We did good, you and me. What a team in such an unconventional way. 

Thank you for being my girl. 

I love you beyond.”

Beyond, indeed.

About the Contributor

The product of an exceptionally loving, accepting, and big-hearted family, Stacey Aaronson is author of the memoir "Raising, and Losing, My Remarkable Teenage Mother." She is also founder of The Book Doctor Is In, where she takes writers by the hand as a ghostwriter, editor, book and website designer, and publishing partner to bring books of excellence to life. To date, she has been gleefully and gratefully involved in the full or partial production of over two hundred books, both within her business and as a layout artist for She Writes Press. Stacey lives on Whidbey Island, WA, with her soul mate of twenty-one years, Dana, and their rescued Maine Coon kitty. Visit Stacey at www.thebookdoctorisin.com and www.staceyaaronson.com.

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