thepurplebutterflyblog


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Newly released book with more details

All,

Thank you for reading my blog. It was the launching pad for my recently released memoir, The Gift of Goodbye: A Story of Agape Love.  The book is an expanded story from this blog and covers the three-year period from my mom’s terminal cancer diagnosis to her death.  The book provides ideas on how to handle difficult conversations and ways to show your love, for those also going through similar situations with their loved ones. The story also covers my own growth through discovery and this loving relationship and the lasting gift of this process for me, a choice to live my most authentic life now, not wait for another day.

More details about the book are available at the following website: http://rebeccawmunnauthor.com/

Happy Reading,
Rebecca

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evidence of the symbol of connection, a first

Back home, the reality of mom’s passing smacked me hard. I could feel a deep wall of grief similar to quicksand taking over my presence. And a pervasive pain in my upper body so strong it felt as if my chest was cut wide open, with a deep ravine carved through the middle. I struggled to make it through an hour without crying. When I ventured out to feel normal, going to a grocery store I shopped at many times a week, I found myself paralyzed. I walked in the store with my list, only to feel like I didn’t know where I was and not sure what to do. When at home, I walked around in a daze, I would start one task, only to end up focused on something else and not able to account for the time in between.

As I wondered around in what felt like darkness, I felt lost. Gone were the daily calls with mom, feeling connected to her in a physical way. I would pick up my phone some days to call her, only to remember she had passed. I wanted most to touch her, wrap my arms around her. I began to grasp for any physical representation that connected me to what she loved. Magnolias were one of her favorite flowers. She would always have cut magnolias in the house when they were in season. One day I felt more lost than most. I walked into my backyard and wondered around a little aimlessly. As I turned towards my neighbor’s backyard, a flash of light caught my eye, a beautiful flower blooming half way down on the magnolia tree. I found an ounce of energy, grabbed some clippers and cut the flower off, leaving several leaves on the stem, just as my mother had done countless times. As I walked back in the house holding the stem, feeling the roughness on the back side of the leaves made me feel close to mom. I stopped and rubbed the leaves, closing my eyes and imagining mom was standing next to me. Silly maybe, but it calmed my heart for a moment- something I longed for each day yet rarely felt.

In an effort to find peace amidst the darkness, I went to the neighborhood park to take my lab for a walk. I walked around the park loop a couple of times fairly briskly and saw several white butterflies fluttering near the trail. Being outside in nature seemed to calm the deep pain in my heart for a little while. On the fourth time walking around the loop, I saw something that caught my eye in one moment and was gone from sight the next. I walked closer to see if I could discern what it was. I sat still and waiting for it to reappear. As if appearing out of nowhere, there it was again, fluttering about three feet over the creek. Moving ever so quickly, I could see it was clearly lavender and almost iridescent in color. I stopped to watch this very special gift in hopes of seeing it land on something. It landed on a leaf, and disappeared almost instantly, virtually invisible to the naked eye. So amazing to me, this little butterfly.

I stood in shock, amazed of this evidence that my mother was connecting with me. Just as she had said she would before she passed. Tears rolled down my cheeks and chills spread through my body. I closed my eyes and imagined mom was standing there with me. I could feel her warmth and comfort that I had counted on for so many years. A calm filled every inch of my heart. When I opened my eyes, the purple butterfly was gone. Happily, the calm remained for a while and I felt a new feeling of expansion, of my edges being pushed beyond anything I had experienced before. In this moment, I was fully present to experience this deep connection of the heart, transcending heaven and earth, and validating my willingness to be curious, my choice to believe, and my journey to expand. And to think only one year earlier, I did not believe purple butterflies existed in nature.


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time slipping away

As I thought about time with mom running out, I considered what I would do if I really did know mom was close to passing. It was hard to keep a clear mind. The fear kept creeping in. I tried to take deep breaths and focus on the deep love I shared with mom. As I did that, one idea that surfaced was that I would want a piece of her in my house, something more than a picture. Mom had become quite a talented water color painter since she had retired twenty years earlier. I decided that I wanted mom to paint each of us a painting, of somewhere we had been together. One for me and one for each of my children. Mom was thrilled with the request and started the paintings, even in the midst of her deteriorating health state.

In mid-February, I was scheduled to go on a business trip when I learned mom’s blood pressure had been extremely high over the past few days and was not going down. San Diego was my planned destination and sounded delightful at this time of year, a place to enjoy some warmth and feel calmed by the ocean.  I was having a hard time focusing on finishing my trip plans. My mind kept drifting back to mom. I knew I wanted to go see her instead. So I cancelled my work trip and went to see her. Mom was surprised and somewhat uncomfortable with my decision. When I asked her about it, she said that it was hard for her to receive the gift of my visit, knowing that I had prioritized her over work. And how glad I was to do that at the time. The little voice inside me was gaining strength, telling me mom’s time was coming to an end. Most everything was seemingly less important that enjoying time with mom at this point.

I asked more questions about the blood pressure and learned that her high and erratic blood pressure was linked to her kidneys. Her doctor recommended for mom to see a renal specialist. All of a sudden, the words of a friend resurfaced in my memory. He had told me the renal system was usually the first to go, and may lead to hospitalization. My heart grew heavy as I processed this and asked more questions of mom’s doctor. Her cancer markers were 6.1, out of a range of 0-3. And had just been 1.5 three months earlier. Cancer markers were a way that her doctor used to track the progression of the cancer, and a 6.1 represented a strong acceleration of the disease. The news cut me to my core. Mom’s doctor also shared that her lung tumor had tripled in size in the past few months. I felt paralyzed and was walking around as if in a daze, didn’t even feel strong enough to go for a walk. How far I had come to open my heart to being so present in the moment and feeling deep love. And now I was feeling the raw pain as the details unfolded, one by one.

I went home and was having a hard time focusing, could barely carry out basic tasks and was forgetting things. Needing support, I went to my therapist seeking tools to help me cope.  It was healing to be able to talk so openly about mom’s situation, my feelings, fall apart in the process, and feel safe at the same time. In the visit, I learned something else about myself. That while I had learned and was continuing to practice how to feel love so deeply in my heart, it was this same depth that I was feeling the pain. Ouch. I chose to focus on the gift of feeling the deep love so I could get through my days, one at a time.  In the midst of feeling like my mom was slipping away, I was also facing another court appearance related to my ex-husband.  Not a pleasant experience but evidently required by the courts to adjust our agreements due to the move to Nashville.  I was not feeling strong enough to endure the stress of the court room. I grew angry that I was having to face such big things at the same time again. It was not fair for sure, but here in my life for a reason. And I remembered that I was not alone. I had great friends and family to support me, but I also had my faith. I let go and realized that I must be strong enough, as God only gives us what we can handle.