11:09 PM 30 January 2010

51 minutes to the first day of the rest of my life. Looking over the past two years, I have watched myself grow so much. On 01.02.08, my mother, the only parent I knew, lost her battle with cancer. Thinking that I would spiral into a miasma of emotional demise, I surprised not only myself, but those around me. Not knowing me personally, you may think I was being dramatic. I can assure you, I was not. The pillar of my existence, or so I thought then, was crumbling down. Losing a loved one is very difficult for anyone, but being the only child of a single parent, seemed to me, the end of the world. I was being left in the world, all alone. But I was wrong. I dealt with the closing of her life, not only with unexpected acceptance, but almost with a hint of true maturity. My mother was a strong woman. She fought tooth and nail to the end. But when she finally accepted her fate, it allowed me to also accept mine. I promised her, while in the ‘deluxe suite’ at the local Hospice Center, that I would grant her every wish. I told her that I would move on and be a better mother, wife, and person. I also told her to do the same. I said it, only half believing that I would rise above her departure. Well, obviously I have. Weeks before her death, we talked more than we had ever talked before. We laughed, we cried, and we even got mad. But I learned so much more about my mother in weeks, than I had learned over the previous 36 years. The funny thing about it, was we both believed that she would survive. I knew otherwise. I think she did as well.

Several months had passed, and her husband, who is not my father, held on to the cremains. Out of respect for her marriage, I never once asked for them. He called me up one day and informed me that I may have her. That I am her daughter and that I deserve them. I gladly accepted and proceeded to dream up ways to honor her. I finally settled on a creative way to honor her wishes. She requested that she be cremated and have her ashes placed in the ocean so that she may travel the world. Dumping all of her ashes in the ocean wouldn’t do. It would be a disservice to her. She wanted to travel the world. Not the ocean but the WORLD. Then it hit me. Why not have a little bit of her be spread in various locations all over the world. Before I knew it, everyone I knew who was traveling, offered to take Jane with them to their destinations. I couldn’t open that box. I found my self unable to let go of her. I waited. She waited. Her soul had been released into the heavens, but her ashes, they were ‘grounded.’

As the months wore on, several friends’ travel plans came and went. I had to give my mother this one wish. Being selfish, I wouldn’t do it. I still did not want to let go. At the time, I just saw it as a reasonable delay. Today, I see it as the last part of the grieving process, letting go. One day, a neighbor was telling me all about her upcoming excursions. I am the animal sitter, so I need to know these things. Obviously at this point she didn’t ask about the ashes. So many times I had said that I wasn’t ready, she gave up. This day was different. I said, can Jane go with you? My neighbor was excited about the upcoming endeavor. They would go around to some spots in the US, travel to Germany, Austria and so on. I think she was more excited than I. That is when my path to self discovery truly began. I viewed it as an adventure. As a stay at home mom, travelling to far away destinations was not on my calendar. Two kids, a husband, and one income can only go so far. So it began. The trips, to places far away. The people offering a ‘ride’ for my mother to their vacation spots. I realized so many things. My view of humans as self-serving creatures had been all wrong. The friends that have taken Jane around the world took time out of their schedules to find the perfect spot, take a few pictures, and leave a bit of mom where they found beauty. Another person took her to the South Pole. How cool is that?

The trips keep coming, and she is now on 4 continents and in one ocean. I am going for all of the continents by the end of 2011.

This unfolding of events serve even a better purpose. One that selfishly serves me. One of growth. One of maturity. One of truly letting go. So even if I never complete the travel itinerary for my mother, my journey has far exceeded both our expectations. It is one that most people strive for, personal growth.

I sit here realizing that no matter what happens today, that the next day will always be the first day of the rest of my life!

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