My mother made her final transition last night. After I told her, my friend Shiloh said, "When the mother passes, the fabric of the universe is shifted and moves into a new shape." Today begins the first day of that new shape for those of us who can hardly begin to imagine the world without Trish Rankin in it. We are all weary but filled with broken-hearted love and gratitude. Last night, my sister, my mother's two sisters and I held my beloved mother precariously in our adoring arms through the harrowing end. My daughter was on the phone with us when she breathed her last agonizing breath.
I am in Ohio right now, midwifing my beloved mother through the rebirth we call death. I already lost my precious father almost 12 years ago, two weeks after my daughter Siena was born. His was a beautiful, sacred death. The moment he breathed his last breath, my mother, who was married to him for 40 years, threw her body on top of him and cried, “David, I love the way you died.” Now, I am preparing to let go of the woman I never thought I could live without.
Like many of you, I was a child raised in the United States in the era of John Wayne and James Dean, when the rugged individualist was prized as the pinnacle of American success. If you relied on no one, proved yourself to be self-sufficient, autonomous, and independent, you won the brass ring of life’s merry-go-round. I was conditioned to believe that in order to be a valued member of society, especially as a woman raised during the feminist movement, I must avoid being “needy” or, even worse, “clingy,” and Lord knows I’d better not lean on a man or take more than I give to anyone.