A couple of years ago I went to see a movie starring Will Smith called Collateral Beauty. The reviews were not good but the cast was incredible, so I took my chances. Contrary to the critics, I found Collateral Beauty to be a thought-provoking, well-written, and a well-acted piece of work. This blog is not about the movie but rather about a brief scene from the movie that I have given much pause to as it relates to the passing of my mother.
This thought-provoking scene featured an older woman who sits down next to a young mother whose daughter is dying and she gives a strange piece of advice that could even be perceived as insensitive or cruel:
Brigitte: [sitting in hospital hallway] Are you losing somebody?
Madeline: I’m sorry?
Brigitte: Who are you losing?
Madeline: [breath trembling] Um, my daughter.
Brigitte: Just make sure you notice the collateral beauty.
As my mother was transitioning into her place of rest (Heaven), there were memorable and life-changing moments that I now understand to be the Collateral Beauty.
First ~ She was a well-loved woman
My mother only remained in Hospice Care at home for 5 days before her passing and during that time more than a hundred people made their way to our home for the chance to say goodbye, thank you, and I love you. I watched each of them, which included children, women, and men who patiently waited their turn.
Then ~ My friends gathered around me
I am blessed with wonderful friends. I saw how much my friends cared for me as my mother my dying. It was as if they scheduled their days to make sure I was cared for by bringing food, cleaning, entertaining the folk who flowed from the house until the final moments.
Also ~ My Best Friend’s love for me
My Best Friend is a midwife who was living about 5 hours from me. She had worked two very long shifts for consecutive days. She called me to ask basically if my mother was still with us. When I said yes, she got in the car and drove to me. She arrived after 10 pm, which would be the last night of her life. She sat with me and counting each breath with me until we got to 1 breathe every 90 seconds for 3 hours. Then when my mother passed she prepared her body after we left the room so that she appeared to be resting comfortably and not forever resting.
Another Thing ~ I found strength and faith that I did not know I had
There is nothing that can prepare you to say goodbye to a parent-Nothing. My mother passed on a Tuesday morning but the last time I heard her speak was Saturday afternoon. As her guest was coming to sit with her, kiss her, thank her, and just find out a way to let her go, she called my name. I was not in the room but as her caretaker, I had superhero hearing attuned to only her sounds. I went to her and whispered in her ear, I will not leave you until you take God’s hand, Mommy.
After 5 days of her fighting to breathe, on the fifth day, I said, “Thank you, Mommy, thank you! Well done. We are going to be ok. You can go and rest now. You are going to be able to breathe soon and you are going to get out of that wheelchair and walk. Say, hello to everyone Mommy. I will see you again. I love you.”
The child in me screamed, “Please don’t leave me, PLEASE!” My parents raised me to have faith and to trust God, and I did and I do. It was that faith that gave me the strength to love my mother unselfishly until her last breath.
Finally ~ Love Never Dies
While my mother is no longer physically here with us, there has not been one day that has gone by that I have not felt her love. There have been special moments over the last six years that I have heard her voice, felt her presence, and heard her praying for my brothers and me.
Through the tears and during “The Missing,” I have become acutely aware of the Collateral Beauty found in Goodbye. Goodbye comes with its own peculiar gifts and a joy, I dare say. The beauty of it all is having had the experience of a mother, wonderful and giving, who loved me until and through her dying breath. Rest in Heaven Mommy (March 13, 1945 – January 17, 2012)