She is my mother.

Familiar music fills the air, energizing the room’s collective mood from under the heavy thumb of malingering helplessness. Discrete instruments meld, joining soul to the beat of an atavistic song, summoning all to share in an era of familial innocents. Dancing Queen plays loudly, as it should, its fetching beauty stoking memory, returning to family’s first conception.

Anciently pure, happy memories of loving dependency join the family profoundly in amorphous togetherness.

Captured feet tap in unison as old shoulders sway awkwardly, desperately reaching across decades to a youth fresh in novelty. The music—the cornerstone of a long-foregone nightly family ritual—replaces the nascent pressure, an ominous despondency of empty words spoken of forlorn love to change the unchangeable.

A quiet smile rises to her eyes. She is my mother. And she is dying.

Family and friends reveal a fellowship of music’s alchemic salve, nature’s soul-soothing balm. The world’s crass conventions have no place here. There is no posturing of the morose or maudlin, no pretense of sadness. All is as it should be.

Celebrating life is not a rejection of death. Both engender a focused intensity on the inescapable conversion of the mortal experience, ushering in tears of joyful melancholy, that most powerful of witnessed sensation.

The music draws to a close, denying peace to the room. Measured by the heart’s communal rhythm, my mother leaves us, not quietly or softly, but with the same gritty, coarse passion for living she loudly proclaimed every day of her existence. A spiritual bull in the world’s China shop of experience. No worries here about going gently into that dark night.

Her spirit, fighting until her last breath, departs form as a grudging master of the earthly game. Chaos reigns over a mother’s final unspoken advice to the countless souls within her orbit, confused and lost in the world’s orthodox struggle, and then it is gone, a voice of genuine sagacity lost forever to icy dormancy.

“Live your life and no one else’s – authenticity is the only sure path to lasting happiness.”

And with that, my mother (finally…) goes silent. My fingers gently brush her eyes closed. She is my mother, and I love and miss her terribly. And we all must endure without her.

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