My Mother Died. More Importantly, She Lived.
by Shelley Rezai
“Be sure to watch Lyla when you spread my ashes here.” My mother said this while we were on top of a hill overlooking the ocean in Catalina. Lyla, my daughter, was not even two years old at the time. ”What?! Lyla will be very old by the time that happens” my dad said in turn, to which my mother replied, “Just watch her.”
My mother died 2 days after Lyla’s 2nd birthday. I was seven months pregnant with our second daughter Emma. I was crushed.
My mother was my best friend, soul mate, spiritual teacher, travel buddy and dreaming partner. We shared the deepest belly laughs I have ever experienced. She was the funniest person I know. She was so charmingly humorous and enduringly unaware of how much of an impact she had on others. She was easy to be around and brought so much joy with her everywhere, yet she also had an edge that you knew came from deep wounds and quiet pain. She was the strongest woman I know, yet I saw her moments of weakness. She wanted to be seen and heard, yet she could care less what others thought. She would rock out one moment and sing me a gentle lullaby the next. She was humble, yet would ask you to repeat a compliment multiple times with a smug grin on her face eating it up over and over again. She was a rock star and she was my rock. She was complex and a beautiful example of the qualities that co-exist in us and it is one of the greatest lessons she taught me.
She wouldn’t let her pain be the burden of others … almost stubbornly so. She internalized a lot of her trauma and I watched her struggle over the years with addiction. I normally wouldn’t share someone else’s personal story, but the importance of sharing this is that I also witnessed first hand the beautiful side of recovery. I watched her heal her own life and fulfill her dreams. I witnessed her mentor women and inspire others to heal their own life and live in full bloom.
She embodied this. Hundreds of people showed up to her service to speak of the positive impact she had on their life and the change she inspired in them. I knew being of service was a huge part of her life, but I didn’t realize how much until that moment. I was lucky. She passed the love of personal development, self-awareness and spirituality onto me and it has shaped who I am today. I can remember calling her and griping about something and my homework would be to write a gratitude list. This is something I still practice and instill in my children. Gratitude literally changed my life. When I would get whiny she would basically tell me to snap out of it and if I couldn’t change the situation, change my perspective. While I didn’t fully grasp these concepts when I was younger, the seeds were planted and it continues to be my foundation. I grow more and more appreciative for who she was as a woman everyday.
My mother always knew she would die young. She often tried to prepare me. I couldn’t handle it and would brush her off when she tried to broach the subject just like that day in Catalina. My family vacationed in Catalina for years. It holds some of my best childhood memories and continues to be magic. My mother had said for as long as I can remember that she wanted her ashes spread by the white cross that sits on top of the cliff overlooking the ocean. We honored that and it is one of the greatest gifts she continues to give.
Every time I visit her I am overcome with the beauty and serenity of the spot she chose. I get to see the ocean sparkle, listen to the wind musically play the leaves of the trees and watch the birds fly by just as she is now, free.
I am reminded of dueling qualities and how the acceptance of this leads to expansion. This lesson she continues to teach me and I am forever grateful.
There is pain; but there is also beauty. Deep, meaningful, awe-inspiring beauty. My mother died; but more importantly she lived. She lived fully more than anyone I know.
Tears stream down my face, but I also smile. I know she is resting in peace, but she is equally rocking and rolling.
Shelley Rezai is a writer, coach and magic mama who loves working with other magic mamas helping them rediscover their deepest desires and dreams. She adores helping women step into their power and create a life they crave by holding safe, sacred and nurturing space. She is a lover of all things mystic, women's wisdom and the magic of women’s circles.