(January 9th, 2016)
In these few days since my mother left her body, and my siblings and I prepare for her celebratory send-off, it has been perfect to be staying, alone, in her house, where we had spent so much time together. I choose to sleep in her bed, in the sheets she has just slept in – so strong is the urge to immerse myself in what remains of her physicality. Wrapped in her smell, I look from her bedroom window to see through her eyes, hear the sounds she used to hear….
It is hard to believe that, after our holiday time together, Pune-bound last Monday evening I said goodbye to her; by Tuesday evening she had collapsed and by Wednesday evening – before I arrived back from India – she had gone. I wonder if I am in shock because there is no sadness, no tears, just gratitude – huge and warming – to life for the perfect timing. Yes, she had not been able to wait till I arrived at her deathbed but I am not upset: how can I be when we were given such a beautiful last two weeks together?
I have heard Osho explain that it takes a few days for the disembodied consciousness to recall to itself the energy that that person had invested in others. I am not sure if I feel her with me, or withdrawing from me or if I am simply immersed in the energy field that she left behind her in the house.
I do know that I continue to reach out – out there, somewhere, anywhere – for her. Not in desperation, not out of clinginess; it is just happening of its own accord.
It reminds me of how whenever I was staying with her over the years I’d occasionally call out to her from another room, ‘Muuuum?’
And she’d respond, ‘Is that my little ewe-lamb calling for its mother?’
Seeing her body in the funeral home, so shrunken and changed almost beyond recognition, affirmed what I have felt at other deaths – that the body is in no way the sum total of a person, or even a very significant aspect. Though I bent to kiss her cheek — smoothed of wrinkles and cold as marble – I did not expect to find a remnant of her there. In fact when I straightened up, I said out loud, ‘Mum – this is so not you!’ and then proceeded to take some photos of what was clearly just a corpse.
Then, if not in the body, where to find her?
According to the Tibetan Bardo, once it has vacated the body, the consciousness either recognises itself as radiant light or, failing that, looks for another body, to return to life on earth once more. This process can take as long as 49 days, though Osho explains that that is the outer limit: at finding ourselves disembodied, most of us are so bewildered that we look for a couple making love and dive into the womb within 3 seconds! (Good to bear in mind if you ever contemplate suicide as a break from life’s troubles!)
So, chances are, if she hasn’t dissolved into existence entirely, my mother is already nestled within someone’s womb. In either case, not immediately accessible. Aware of this, still that reaching out…like a little marine creature with its tentacles or antennae waving about, scouring the ocean floor.
Finally, empty-handed, I come back to myself and turn inwards – and there she is. Just as I knew her a week ago, a presence of love and warmth, but now, uncontained. My whole body is plump and soft with tenderness. Every cell saturated with it.
She is part of me, embodied in me, just as once I was embodied in her. And just as she carried me into life, I know — because it is so with others whom I have loved, my father and with Osho – I will carry her as part of me through the rest of my life. We are one.
We always were. Death has only confirmed it. (Maneesha)