I just finished watching Blackbird last night. As of late, I only watch about 20-30 minutes of movies at a time these days. I’m either falling asleep or my little one is waking up. I’m enjoying watching in small chunks. It allows me to digest what I’ve watched before I move on.
Blackbird is a family drama that takes place over a weekend. Susan Saradon is the matriarch. She has a fatal disease, I think it’s Parkinson’s and she’s going to perform a medically assisted suicide. This is her last weekend with her family, their time to say goodbye.
I loved this movie for many reasons. First off, to be able to say goodbye to your loved ones on your terms is a privilege that not many get to have. To be surrounded by those you love while you pass is another privilege. I think this movie hit home for me because my mother’s death anniversary is coming up in a few weeks and I’m starting to feel the grief.
It’s been seven years since she passed.
The first few years, I wasn’t able to think or talk about her without crying. Now, most of the time, I smile when I think about her.
My mother’s death was very sudden. She went into the hospital with kidney failure at the beginning of April and never left the hospital. We found out she had cancer on a Thursday and she passed the following Tuesday morning. It was fast.
When we found out that she was dying, she had a tube in her throat helping her breathe. She did not get a chance to say goodbye or anything else. We held her hand and sat with her all night. It was a privilege to be with her when she left her body. People have said, and I would agree, death is like birth. Witnessing a being coming or going, the Bhavana in the room is similar. Sacred. Quiet just before the transition. Time feels like it stops. When it’s over, you see and feel the world with new eyes. Your filter for what is important and what isn’t becomes very strong for a while. I have witnessed both and both have left me in a state of awe for a few weeks after.
Coming back to the movie — I sobbed during the last supper when the mother was able to share how she felt about each person. My mother was not given that privilege and I mourned that for a long time after she passed.
I remember talking to a friend of mine who is a grief counsellor and she said, how you live is how you die. The Tibetans feel the same. Their spiritual practice is all about preparing for death.
I’m bringing all this up dear friends because as we shed winter and move into this next season, I ask — how do you want to live it? How do you want to spend your time? Who do you want around? What would you like to do?
My mother started to get sick the fall before. She went to a doctor for medicine and they had recommended that she go see a specialist. She waved them off explaining she would do it when she retired in the spring. Two days before her retirement, she went into the hospital. Two days.
My mother was a hard worker. She passed that down to me. One of my greatest takeaways from her death is — Don’t put off what you WANT to do today until tomorrow for as we know, tomorrow never comes. The to-do lists will never be done, there will always be housework to do. I can get really bogged down by work. I try to remember to do something that feeds my soul daily.
Take a deep breath, my friends. Savor what is appearing before you. See the magic.