>Goodbye Angel – In Loving Memory Of Mom

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I’ve been away….again. Sadly this time it’s not primarily due to my laziness or being overworked. This time it was beyond my control.

ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) took from me swiftly and brutally.
She was only 60 and still brilliant and beautiful and vibrant.

I’ve lost my Mother, my pillar, my angel, my friend, my inspiration and my greatest strength. In the end she wanted my father by her side and her three girls to be able to say goodbye.

Her wish was granted and we were and did, before she took her last breath. Dad stayed by her side until the end.
I was able to still see her before she slipped into an unconscious stupor and although she wasn’t able to talk or write, she was able to give me her very last hug. I lay on her breast as I did when I was a baby. I cried and with what little strength she had, she gently stroked my hair as if to say “Don’t cry baby, it’ll all be alright”.
She said she wasn’t afraid and I knew she was tired of fighting, tired of being tired and tired of being trapped in her body.

Her favorite films were “The Lord of the Rings” and as she lay sleeping in bed, I sang to her the last song “Into the West”. Slowly I watched her slip away.

I couldn’t do anything but cry and put my feelings into words.

Was,
 did,
 had.
These are words I use every day in my daily speech and conversation and I have never given them a thought. But this week they have not only been foremost on my mind but I’ve had to contend with the fact they are now used to refer to my mother.
In talking about her it had always been in present tense.
She lost her battle with ALS this week but the ultimate reality she is never coming home has not completely registered with my subconscious. I do not even know where to begin to express my grief and sorrow at the emptiness she leaves in my heart. It is like a rose bush in which the rose has been prematurely plucked and the vine still reaches toward the sun. But all that remains are the thorns. In time the branch will heal and the thorns will lose their bite but today and for the near future the wounds bleed deeply.
Her memory is everywhere in the house she loved so dearly. Her smell lingers heavily on clothes still neatly hung in the closet and folded in her drawers. The last book she was reading still lies on a table. A half finished blanket rests in a basket of yarn patiently waiting to be finished. Notes in her hand are found scattered about. Her footprints can still be seen under the desk where she worked up until a few months ago. In the quiet of night her voice can be heard in gentle whir of a ceiling fan. She is everywhere.
In the first few days of her passing, Dad and us girls spent time together laughing, crying and learning how to move forward in lives that no longer include this woman whom we all cherished and loved beyond measure.
We’ve slowly started reading through the notebooks of her words as in the last few months she lost her ability to speak. It grieves me beyond words to see how she suffered and yet tried to keep strong and from falling into despair. Her daily struggles are documented along with her unfailing strength; her faith and her incredible will to persevered and maintain grace in the gradual loss of dignity and quality of life. Her written words not only offer insight into her physical fight but provide testimony to her unbelievable capacity to soldier on even in the face of death. She showed the world she was the captain of her destiny up until the end.
There were very few people who disliked or disapproved of my mother but even those few would find it difficult, if not impossible, to deny she commanded respect and admiration. Whether it was her genius IQ or her magisterial personality, it was easy at first glance to find yourself intimidated in her presence. But her deep level of humility, her grace and overwhelming beauty captivated nearly everyone she met.
She was simply magical.
I can’t believe how much I miss her already and it feels as if a light has gone out of this world. The sorrow comes at times in unbearable waves but she would not have wanted us to allow ourselves to be pulled down into the current and drown. So we stand strong against the torrent, using her memory as an anchor, and let it wash over us. I understand we are now forever mired in the sea of sorrow but in time it will lose its’ ferocity and will only lap at our feet like the evening tide. Until that time we will continue to laugh and cry but inevitably find peace knowing she has found eternal joy. She has finally shed the bonds of human mortality and like a bird freed from a cage she now flies free around the Universe that had always so fascinated her, coming home to rest at the feet of her Father. She was and now forever will be, our Angel.
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“Into the West”
In Honor Of Mom

Barbara Cassada
October 1947 – July 2008

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