Grant McIver

Ribbon of Orange

3 minutes

I’ve helped bring a lot of babies into this world, but I’ve never helped usher anyone out.

Until my mother.

She had a stroke on a Wednesday and was supposed to be fine. But then she wasn’t. I’m afraid to fly because I get claustrophobic. One of my children convinced me that now wasn’t the time to brave-up and get on a plane, and using that insight to ease up on myself, my husband Funk rented a car and drove us to Florida.

From the moment I was placed inside that vehicle, I kept wondering why I wasn’t reacting the way I usually do whenever things go this terribly wrong in my life. My throat wasn’t closing in fear. I wasn’t viewing the world through tunnel vision. I wasn’t fleeing my body trying to get away from myself.

None of that was happening.

I wasn’t even hating on Funk like I typically do whenever I’m this upset. Like, I didn’t once backseat his horrific driving skills.

Instead, all I felt was this strange peace about me. A deep love coming at me, as if unseen hands were holding me. Comforting me. Filling me with strength. Confidence. And this weird zooming feeling, almost like my soul was being pulled to Florida, faster than Funk could drive.

Day turned into night. And before long, the most enormous harvest moon rose, laying an orange ribbon down on the horizon to encourage us. Somewhere during the glow, one of my children called. Just as I was repeating the latest news about their grandma, a comet shot across the sky, leaving a wide patch of sparkles behind it.

I’d never seen a comet before.

Dani Nantais
Dani Nantais

That’s when it came to me. I knew my mom wasn’t going to make it. I finally understood what all those unseen hands were doing for me. They were on standby.

Helping someone die is shockingly similar to assisting a woman in labor. You pour every ounce of your being into their soul, infusing them with your strength, helping them be less afraid, shaping a picture of the beauty that’s waiting for them at the finish line.

Even more important, you help them grab onto their own power.

Together, my brother and I did all that for our mother. We midwifed her over to the other side. But unlike at a birth, we didn’t get to see the celebration that came after my mother took flight.

A friend of my son’s from his teenage years sent a note shortly after that summed the whole thing up, “My heart is with you as you move into a day without your mom.”

Wise words from a too-soon adult.

Here’s to you if you’ve already walked this walk. If you’ve assimilated this new way of being into your new life. Because I don’t really know yet how to move in the world without my mom. All I know is that no matter the age or the relationship, losing a mother is a tough one.

Ribbon of Orange