She’s gone. The person who has known and loved me longer than anyone on this earth left last night at 7:05 pm, three weeks short of her 93rd birthday. My mother. Florence Tall Goodkin. She began her exit out of her mortal body four days ago when I was visiting my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter up in Portland, Oregon. Daily reports from my sister and other factors convinced me to not rush home, but I felt conflicted in my heart. On Sunday morning, she was still with us, so when I finally boarded the plane Sunday afternoon, I felt sure that she was waiting for me. And she was.
And so I passed the final four hours alone in a room with my mother. She was in a coma, but all evidence points to still being able to hear and feel the presence of loved ones. What did I do? Exactly what I had done for the six glorious years of her residence in the Jewish Home for the Aged. I held her, kissed her repeatedly, talked to her, sang to her, read and recited poetry to her, listened to music (Frank Sinatra), played piano for her (even though it was outside the room and far away). I laid my head on the pillow next to her and held her head and wept copious tears, staining her sheets with the salty water that will be her food and drink in the next world. When my wife finally came to get me, more kisses on her warm cheek and a talk with the nurse asking her to call me if anything changed.
When I got home 15 minutes later, the phone rang. She had waited until I left and then she left. Some regrets that I hadn’t stayed longer or given the cell phone number instead of the landline number to the nurse, but my sister insists that our loved ones often wait until we leave the room and pass over in solitude. This happened to my sister and my Dad seven years ago.
At home, I lit candles and incense, sat zazen meditation and chanted Buddhist sutras and wept copiously from the depths of my shaking body while playing Two Sleepy People on the piano. Then went back to the home to see her body from whence her spirit had flown, kissed her cold forehead and begin my new life as an orphaned boy.
Mom, if there is a love greater than the one we shared, I can’t imagine what that would be. Fly free and rest in peace.