School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: February Newsletter
My Mother

By Maria
I went for a walk in the forest, in the dark winter afternoon, near the hospital where my mother was, in Halmstad, Sweden. That day her doctor decided to stop with all her treatment keeping her alive. The wind broke a pine tree branch. I found it on the path I walked. I picked it up to put it in water for her. A round granite stone caught my eye to bring to her as well. I stopped at a pine tree and hugged it. It opened my heart wide into peaceful mourning tears. It swayed in the wind.

Coming back from the walk, I asked the nurse in the hospital, to bring electric candles. I put the pine tree branch in water, and put the stone beside it. I was alone with my mother that night, the 22nd of December. I am with you mother I said, stroking her forehead. I drummed and sang for her, praying for her to open up into the light. We both went to sleep. We woke up at 1.45 am when the staff came to care for her. We were alone again and I felt I wanted to be awake with her, to be in the precious peaceful intimacy between us. I was touching her face and I said to her once more that I would drum for her and it felt like she was saying yes with her eyes. 


I called for all my support and all her support. And through my voice I expressed my hearts intent for her, of courage, of love, of freedom and light. Her breathing calmed down and it seemed like she fell asleep once more. I touched her to see if she was asleep. She did not breathe and her heart did not beat. I touched her heart and stroke her face, feeling deep love and gratitude of these beautiful moments of being together in prayer of letting go. I wanted to drum again and I sang for her to rest in peace and my heart was filled with joy and I thanked her in my songs for these last precious moments of pure love that we shared together. 


I called my father and my brother. They came and there was deep peace in the room. My brother fell asleep in the bed beside her. Me and my father went home to bring her clothes. I brought with me from Iceland her white embroidered blouse, identical to one that I have been dancing in the Summer Long Dances, to wear for her during my visit. She loved these blouses. We found a pair of black trousers she used to sing in on stage. My father found three roses made of seashells that he once brought to her from France, to put on her chest. 


A dear dancing friend, Shiuli, from India gave me a small copper jar of water from Ganges when I at one Summer Long Dance told her that my mother was seriously ill. I had this small jar of water with me and I started to wash my mothers feet with it. The movements continued from my heart into my hands to wash her whole body gently, saying farewell and thanking her body for having given me life, crying with the holy waters of the Ganges in my hands.


My mother did not want to have a priest with a big funeral. It felt so right to take on the role of the celebrant of the ceremony. I prepared as I do before teaching Movement Medicine. I called in all the warmth, healing, love and support available. We played a song that my mother used to sing for my father. I sang three songs, my mother taught me shortly before she got ill. My oldest daughter Ingibjörg sang and recorded a song we played for her. I talked about her life challenges and her passion for singing and how she could bring forth her love for life through her voice. In Sweden some say, that often you die as you live. My mother died while I was singing for her, I said. 


I felt like a channel for my mothers love to all of us present in the room and many were deeply grateful for how touching, loving and beautiful this ceremony was.


One day during summer, before my mother died I visited the isle of Hallands Väder, in Sweden, this is what I wrote about that day:


The sun is shining. My feet are leading me into the forest. I am moving in the cool shadow of big old trees with green crowns spreading high above me. I am curious of the wisdom they might tell me. I listen carefully. I pay attention to the brown blanket of leaves, fallen years before, how soft and crunchy they feel under my feet. I look up. Far away I see bright sunlight passing through an opening through these green crowns. The light is so bright, it touches my heart, opening my being into endlessness. I move closer. I see a big dead tree top laying on the earth in the middle of the rays of the sun. Approaching the light I see a thick high broken trunk. This beautiful big old tree broke; died and left a big round hole open in the green forest bed, a hole that used to be its own circle amongst its fellow trees. Now the sun is shining down through it, lighting up the whole space where this tree once lived. Looking up towards the sky I see the green branches of the neighbor trees forming this circle. It feels as if they hold a sacred union of life around this empty space, honoring the spirit that left. They tell me, when great loss in life leaves a hole in our hearts, there is possibility for light to shine ever deeply through us, heal us, connect us to each other.


At this time in my life my mother is dancing with death. She is telling him that she will dance and dance and dance as long as she possibly can. My father is holding her very firmly, giving all that he got, into helping her to dance as long as she possibly can. I am witnessing them and finding ways of acceptance into my being, moving and breathing into my medicine, growing roots into the earth, sensing and moving into my connection with my mothers heart, praying for the freedom and peace of her soul.


Thank You Great Forest for showing me the pure sacred spirit of life meeting death.


The day after my mother’s death ceremony, I asked my father and brother to come with me to visit her flowers that were outside on the ground, beside a bench, in the churchyard. We sat down. The sun was shining on our faces. I felt it warming my sore heart. And I remembered the wisdom of the forest. I took my fathers hand and shared my memories.


I am so grateful for all the work, I have done to be able to stay awake, creative and alive through this intense journey. And I feel endless gratitude for Movement Medicine, Susannah and Ya’Acov and the whole dancing community of friends; dear companions, known and unknown for all the support, wisdom, love and compassion.


Thank You!


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.