A year ago today at 3:05 EST / 1:05 MST, my mother, Relia Dawne Edling Thomsen, passed away at the age of 85. She had been struggling with thyroid cancer for roughly fifteen years. After two previous chemo treatments in Seattle, Washington there was a hope that it would go into remission. And it did for about five years or so. Once it began rearing it's head again her doctors in Utah told her her that she needed to do more chemo or she would die in six months.
Tired of chemo treatment and how it destroys a body's energy, my mother, then 83, said, "No. No more" and made the decision to die with dignity and grace, as opposed to being shot up with toxic chemicals and enduring the agony that such treatments bring. Especially when you're elderly.
After she got her six month sentence, my vegan niece, Ester, who was then married to an Indian spiritual teacher, suggested that my mother go on an Ovo-vegetarian diet (with limited eating of fish and chicken) and go completely organic. This also included juicing fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Within months, the tumors had shrunk and she shocked her doctors by showing how toxic our regular food is and how it "feeds" cancer cells. We also got two more years of quality life out of her. And it was a lovely, precious gift.
By end of Summer 2015, my mother's breathing began to turn to wheezing and she knew something was wrong. In early Fall, my sister, Marianne, finally flew out to take her to the doctors to see what was happening with her, it was discovered that the thyroid cancer had metastasized into full, aggressive lung cancer . And time was ticking.
When I received the call from my sisters that Mom was dying, I was already in Queens, New York, attending Day Two of my brother-in-law's funeral: a tragic and unexpected heart attack in his mid-40's that left behind a shattered wife and daughter.
Within a week and half of being in New York, my husband and my son joined me in Utah where I would soon reconnect with my siblings, nieces and nephews and participate in a living memorial for my mother, while she still was alert and connected to our dimension and was able to say her goodbyes and to give each of us things to be remembered by.
How lucky was I? How lucky was I that I got ten days to be with her and to tell her how much I loved her, how much she would be missed and how much I appreciated her love, compassion and nurturing.
She was such an incredible soul. Loving, spiritual, connected, and supportive. And she was a pioneering feminist. Tenacious, intelligent, witty, determined, and courageous. And she never had a prejudiced bone in her body. She was accepting of everyone, no matter who they were. Black, latino, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, gay, lesbian, transgender... She believed that everyone was the same and that we all come from the same source. Whether you call that source God, Yaweh, Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Buddah, or any other type of deity, she knew that they all pointed to a home known as Divine Source.
When my mother passed away a year ago today, I was sleeping at my oldest sister's home where we all had the impending doom that she was ready to leave at any moment. The last day I saw her, she was surrounded by the entire family, her breathing was difficult and the her pain required more and more morphine, which left her with a limp body and a mind that could still communicate in muffled words.
Sometime before 1 AM that night, my father heard her body rattling from her room as the body was shutting down. He was scared and wasn't sure if he could handle seeing something so intense. But he knew in his heart he had to head down that hallway and hold her hand.
He said it was one of the most painful but incredible experiences in his lifetime and he wouldn't have traded it for the world. His cathartic tears of loss, relief and appreciation are a sight I will never forget. I can't even imagine having to do that if my husband or son were passing away in front of my eyes. I just can't imagine.
After her passing, I returned home to Toronto with many tokens of her love that she had left me: her handmade prayer table, journals, a statue of Nike (the Goddess of Success) that I gave her one Christmas in my twenties, and, a delicate, hand-painted jewelry box that I bought for her in Porvoo, Finland. She and I had a taken special 12-day cruise through the Baltic with dad and my husband and I had forgotten that I bought that for her. She also kept a pair of emerald earrings that I gave her for one Christmas in it. Wonderful tokens of a person who was the embodiment of unconditional love and acceptance.
And now, in recent days, her example has been marred by the recent American presidential election. Once again hate, fear, lying, greed, nastiness, homophobia, xenophobia, racism and the promotion of sexual assault have elected a GOP-created Frankenstein who has put the world on alert.
70+ years since World War II ended and America still can't get its shit together. I am so glad to be a Canadian and living in a multi-diverse country that appreciates EVERYONE for what they bring to the world table. For those Americans who voted for Frankenstein and Indiana Jerk and to those who simply sat on your fat asses and didn't vote: good luck. You're on a speeding train headed into a tunnel with no light on the other side. When you finally hit the wall, don't cry. You're fear and selfishness will be the only thing to blame.
Peace, love and light.