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Posted December 2, 1996

Back in 1988, my mother lay terminally ill from metastasized breast cancer.  
She'd had the cancer for about a decade, and neither surgery, radiation nor 
chemotherapy had been able to complely rid her of the disease.  Her wishes 
were to die at home, and she'd written a living will refusing heroic measures. 
 She spent her last month lying pretty much motionless in a hospital bed 
fitted into her bedroom.  24 hour nursing care kept track of her vital signs 
and administerd morphine to control the pain.  I was 22 at the time, and aside 
from losing pets to various ailments and accidents, this was my first personal 
experience with the grand exit.

Over a period of several weeks during which she'd been less and less able to 
speak or move anything except her eyes due to the cancer invading her spinal 
cord and brain, we would gather enmasse each evening around her bed, just 
talking to her to keep her company.  Her mind was still alive inside the 
motionless husk of a body, and though we knew she was feeling no physical 
pain, wanted to make sure her last moments would be spent in the company of 

One evening in November, I remembered some of the outings we'd had earlier 
that year when she was still able to travel in a car.  I started to speak:  
"Remember how we'd go out to Homestead airport and just sit there, watching 
the little planes take off.  In the spring time... it was cooler, and the sky 
was always blue with just a few clouds."  

I began to weep as I continued.  "I want you to be one of those planes, Mom.  
I want you to feel yourself taking off from this world and soar into the 
beautiful blue sky of the next.  You've been the best mother I can imagine, 
and I'm sorry you'll be leaving my life without seeing how it turns out, but 
your work is done.  You don't need to stay anymore if you don't want to."  Her 
brothers were looking very uncomfortably at me now, and my voice was breaking 
up, yet I continued.

"Run down that runway... feel the breeze under your wings... look over the 
corn fields and see the freewheeling egrets soar and swoop in effortless 
flight... look out and see the fluffy clouds, building into afternoon rain... 
look up and see the beautiful sun high overhead, shining warmly... run 
faster.. pick up your feet... let go, mom... just let go.  Take off into that 
beautiful world... "  My head was laying on the pillow, tears pooling under 
me.  I left the room quickly to eat supper and sleep.

 I awakened suddenly in the middle of the night and in kind of a half dreaming 
state saw an incandescent, multicolored, whirling ball of energy floating over 
my head.  Neither hot nor threatening, it simply hovered there for several 
seconds, then receeded back over the foot of my bed, passed outside the window 
and rose into the night.  Being barely concious, I didn't think anything of 
it, and lay there quietly tossing and turning.

Yet, when not more than ten minutes later, my uncle came into the room to wake 
me and tell me that my mother had died, I somehow already knew it, and because 
of what I had envisioned, didn't feel any sorrow, but more of a sense of quiet 
relief.  I can't explain why the first thing I did after he gave me the news 
was turn on my CD player and quietly play Kansas'  "Carry On, Wayward Son," 
but my uncle remained in the room, reclined on my bed while as we listened.

- catbear