My mother died October 15, 2013. She was ill for 20 plus years with heart disease, trigeminal neuragia, and many other conditions, She suffered a brain hemorrhage, a stroke - we joked that she was a cat and that she was on her 17th life. She always bounced back.

She was petrified of death and we all believed she hung on so long because of this fear. My mother was prone to addiction and from the time I can remember, she was taking some kind of prescription drug to help her escape pain. She had an unhappy marriage, but my parents remained together until the end. I never really had a relationship with my mother - it was one of conflict. I was always trying to get her to move beyond her self-limiting beliefs and she never would. She was too scared. It made me upset and we were never really able to communicate beyond this. I say all of this because this is a story about the gift my mother gave me shortly after her death.

My mother died on a Tuesday. I was en route to see her when she died. I went straight to our house when I arrived in my parent's town. I went to sleep. The next morning I woke up and started to cry. I let myself cry because I knew I needed to - I am not easy to cry. I must have fallen back to sleep. And then I had a dream....

I was sitting at a round kitchen table with 3 chairs. Directly ahead of me was a short corridor with a long window at the end. The glass was cloudy and the light outside was gray. I looked to my right and I saw a closet. My mother was in front of it taking an article of clothing off a hanger. She was beautiful, young, thin. Her hair was styled just the way she would have liked it. She was wearing a very bright, floral hospital gown, similar to the one she wore when she was admitted to a hospice facility in town. I couldn't see her face, but she was a gorgeous version of herself at her prime. She seemed be done with what I assumed was packing, and she walked across the room, past me to another room on my left.

This room was a hospital room. Next to where I was, sitting at the table, was a window cut-out where I could see into the room. My father was sitting on a couch looking at his phone, texting. Typical. There was a cut-out for a door beyond that and I could see a hospital bed. My mother walked through that doorway and got up into the bed. All I could see were her bare legs.

I got up from my chair at the kitchen table and walked into the room. I turned to look at my mother and she was sitting up in the bed.

She was smiling at me with the most incredible smile I have ever seen in my life. The look on her face was indescribable. It glowed. The light was..... a color so big and bright, and yet so soft and warm. And yet, this doesn't come close to telling you anything about it. She was pure joy, pure light, pure love..... Words are not enough to describe what I saw. All I can say to truly describe it is her smile was EVERYTHING. It was as if she was telling me "What was I so scared of?"

I looked at her for what seemed like a long time - I seemed to be stuck in the light. I exclaimed "Mom!" I laid on top of her to give her a hug and said, "I know you are not here," and then I woke up.

I told my whole family what I saw, but they were not as excited about it as me. They were grieving her loss, but all I could feel was great joy and wonder and everything positive. I did not fit in with my family and their grieving process - at least not for the reasons of their grieving.

At my Mother's viewing, I cried like I have never cried in my lifetime. I did not cry for my mother - I knew where she was and for some reason I knew she was traveling to the places she wanted to see one last time. I was happy for her. I cried for me. I cried for the loss of a world understanding that was now completely changed. I mourned for my old belief system. I cried because my life was going to change.

I believe my mom gave me a gift. It's a true gift because I didn't have to die to see it and it was given out of pure love. She loved me so much that she showed me who she truly is, something she could never do when she was alive.

I feel so incredibly privileged and grateful.

Since that time I have felt an incredible need to work with hospice and people who are in the process of dying. I am not a chaplain, I am not a nurse, but I began volunteering to see a hospice patient and will continue to see more. I started slowly by doing administrative work for a local hospice organization. I'm not even sure what it is I can offer but companionship and love.

My whole life view has taken a change. I was in a crisis of sorts before - not knowing what my purpose was. And even after my mother's death, this crisis continued. I have finally come to realize that the trajectory of my life has changed and everything now feels right. I used to struggle to feel joy, and now I feel it without having to think about it. And people have come into my life that have continued to perpetuate this feeling. It almost feels wrong sometimes because it has been easy. My biggest obstacle is letting go and letting it happen.

The thing I thought you might be most interested in was the dream. You have no idea how privileged I feel to have seen what I have seen. In many ways I fight the feeling of not being deserving, but I also know that I must do something with this gift - I can't just tuck it away someplace. It's too important. I am so GRATEFUL for my life and what it has brought to me and it all has started to make some sense.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share.