It was in a room at the Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach, California, a room overlooking the Pacific where we all gathered for one last impromptu visit in August of 2004. The room was filled with quiet giggles, roaring laughter and meaningful conversations. In the center of it all, my mother, regally reclined on a bed in her white crocheted sweater, looking elegant as ever. There was a philanthropist and his wife dressed in black-tie as they had just come from a formal wedding, my mother’s dearest friends Christy and Sheldon who had just flown in from Greenwich, Connecticut on a moments notice, an Irish beauty and her Arab prince of a husband looking as if they had just stepped off a yacht, a yogi monk and my stepfather amongst the group who had gathered knowing that this was a send off of sorts. Everyone in the room was aware that my mother had a week or less to live and yet the room was a raucous and significant celebration of love.
It was a relaxed evening with friends scattered on sofas and chairs and others flopped on the bed alongside my mother. She was frail at this point but she was enjoying the magical evening all meant for her and she was radiant with her cheeks still rosy and the ever present sparkle in her eyes.
The festivities went late into the night until one by one her friends left, most of them thinking that they may still have time to see her in the coming days, although that was not to be the case. However, Christy and Sheldon knew that they would see her the next day as they were also staying at the hotel for another day before returning to the east coast.
The next evening at sunset when Christy and Sheldon came to say their final good-byes it was painfully emotional. How do you say good-bye to your closest friends for the last time? It was gut-wrenching. Wanting to give my mother and her friend some time to themselves, my step-father, Sheldon and I stepped inside and left the two spiritual sisters on the patio to talk as the palm trees swayed in the breeze and the sun was slowly lowering itself in the sky.
Fast forward to June 10, 2011, as the sun was setting in Greenwich, Connecticut and I was getting ready to be married to Ric at the home of Christy and Sheldon when Christy came somewhat breathlessly into the room only minutes before the ceremony to ask me if we could move the ceremony to a different location outside in the garden. I agreed, not so concerned with the logistics, this day was a dream, I was getting ready to be married to the love of my life, I wasn’t hung up on where I was to be standing when it happened.
Before I walked out of the room, I had a quiet conversation with my mother. I had felt her spirit with me all day and I knew that she was there…somewhere, I could feel her. Since I had not met Ric before her passing, she never had the chance to meet him, but as Ric has been told many times by people who knew her well, she would have absolutely adored him. I then made my way down the winding staircase on the arms of my father and stepfather past the small gathering of friends and family to my handsome groom, waiting for me outside on a brick patio overlooking the stream that ran through the property.
During that last visit with my mother, on the balcony of the Montage, watching the sun setting over the sea, Christy pragmatically asked, “Well, if I won’t be able to speak with you physically, how are you going to communicate with me?”, and my mother answered, “through the water”. Just before the wedding was to begin she remembered this last conversation and wanted Ric and me to be near the stream during the ceremony – so we would be closer to the water, therefore, closer to my mother.
I am forever in gratitude for you gracing my life with your always breathtaking presence and for the joyful honor and experience of being your daughter. Blessed are the heavens that you adorn and wherever that may be, I wish you peace and love.