There are moments in our lives that transcend our five senses.
When we hold our baby for the first time.
Or when an afternoon hike delivers us to the peak of a mountain and the valley below us is so vast it takes our breath away.
These moments of divine perfection fill us with a knowing: We are part of something so much bigger than ourselves. And while we may not fully understand it, we are able to glimpse the world that exists just beyond the veil.
This celestial realm makes itself known when we least expect it and, often, it’s during our darkest hours that it whispers to us—offering us unwavering comfort and peace, letting us know that there is more to life than what we can see and touch.
When I look back at my mother’s death, 10 years ago, I realize that amidst the suffering, the fear, the resistance, and the anger, God was there. Whispering her consolation, enveloping me with a presence and a stillness that has opened my awareness to the magic that exists just beyond the veil.
I’m 24 years old, lying face down on the chapel floor in the same hospital where my mother is in a coma fighting for her life. It’s the middle of the night and my dad has made his bed across a row of chairs in the waiting room, which has been our home for the last five days. It’s just me and a God I’m unsure of and the bright red carpet of the chapel floor.
I surrender to this moment, admitting my smallness. I realize on some level how naive it would be to ask God to let my mother live. Somehow, I sense life is more complicated than that. So, instead, I ask for peace. I pray, “I just want to know that someday this will all be okay, no matter what happens to her.”
And in a moment that defies rationality, the veil parts and I feel her presence as if she’s laying right there next to me. In my ear she whispers, “Angie, they’re keeping my body alive but I’m ready to be let go.” Her body is upstairs with the machines but her spirit is here with me, as real as that red carpet. I feel her peace enveloping me from the across veil and I am filled with the knowing that we are always okay.
Nine more long days my family waits, and we pray. We stay strong for each other and we have hope—because that’s what you’re supposed to do when a person you love is fighting for their life. But I know, deep down, that my mother is going to die. And when the decision to remove her from life support needs to be made, I have no doubt what my mother’s wishes are. I know because she whispered them to me one lonely night in the chapel.
I don’t remember how many days pass after the machines and tubes keeping my mother alive are removed. It all runs together like a bad dream played on repeat. But when the end finally comes, I hold her in my arms and sing “Wild Horses” in her ear while she slips across the veil into the world of the unknown.
And then she is gone and the air thickens like dark maple syrup. I have to get out of there.
My feet begin to move as if they’re on auto-pilot—through the glass door of her room, past the open arms of my family members who wait to comfort me. I push past them all and trudge down the pale-green halls of the ICU. My walk becomes a desperate run now, down nine flights of stairs and out the front doors of the hospital, away from that thick syrupy air.
I run and I run until I find myself in a nearby wooded area. I fall to my knees and press my face into the wet dirt allowing the shock of my new reality to sink in. But just as the tears start to come, the most peculiar thing happens.
I am blanketed with a powerfully intense feeling of peace, as if something from another realm has come to comfort me. My sadness and longing are transformed into feelings of perfect and total bliss and I become acutely aware of the aliveness of the present moment. It’s as if a veil has been lifted and I am seeing the world for the first time.
I begin to smell the freshness of the wooded air. I mean really smell it—the wetness of spring and its oxygen-rich crispness invigorate my senses and fill me up with a pure and vital energy. I look around at the rich canopy of green that surrounds me and the colors seem more brilliant than any colors I have seen before. The forest has come alive to surround me in a protective embrace.
I feel my mother’s presence in those woods, but not only her presence, the presence of a divine energy that is in me and around me. The presence is me. This energy feels somehow familiar, as if it has been there all along. I am only conscious of it for the first time, temporarily suspended from the ego and fears that have kept me chained to my own mind. The energy of life is teeming all around me and in that moment I know that wherever this peace is coming from, that is where my mother is now. And, just like that night in the chapel, I am filled with the knowing that we are always okay.
As I leave my private little haven, it seems as though I have just awakened from a dream. A feeling of euphoria lingers with me, as if Mother Nature is escorting me back to my family where I can take solace in the embrace of the living.
Maybe my experience in the woods was my mother coming to say her final goodbye. Or maybe it was my very own team of angels saying, “We’ll take it from here.” Maybe I’m not meant to fully understand it—my own resurrection—but it was the most beautiful moment of my life and it happened on the worst day of my life, the day my mother died.
The moments surrounding her death have stayed with me since, reminding me that I am never alone. Reminding me that, though I’ll never fully understand it, there is something bigger than us at work—a synchronistic symphony playing in the background of our lives.
I believe these brief glimpses of peaceful bliss are the way we’re meant to experience every moment of our lives, if only we can find our way back to the place of wholeness that resides within us all. In that place, all of our fears fade away and we are eternally, consciously connected to the world across the veil.
Author: Angela Wing
Image: Jordan Sanchez/ Unsplash
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren