Two days ago my mother, Mary, was called home. She has navigated dementia for one and a half years. It has been nine months since she knew who I was when I visited. She was 89. Earlier in the day us brothers gathered, caregivers, a harpist and a woman who used her Reiki skills to untether Marys’ feet, release her hands and open her crown. She passed shortly thereafter.

Yesterday I drove to Bainbridge Island to meet with my brothers. We entered Mary’s room with vigor, and within the hour had sorted, packed and loaded up the last of her things. I traveled in and out of feelings of sadness and nausea, a moist, suffocating pain I didn’t want to ride toward the core. But, I did. I scrubbed thoughts of story identification stain as fast as it came in. I see it as scrubbing a wall, consistently stained from above, always in my way, stories that confine and imprison. In the world of mapping, the first three principles are: empty your thoughts, dump your judgment and tell a different story.

Driving home by myself, I turned up the volume of the scrubbing. More action, more vigor. The pain of my mother’s passing startled and blinded me with the severity, scorching and wrenching. I drove and felt. Drove and felt. Waited for a new story. Bit by bit, markers came in from the field. When I go interior of an energetic zone, I place markers of reactive awareness as I go. After I exit and log in my achievements, I wait for the markers to come in.

Something one of my brothers said, about carrying Mary’s legacy on, strengthening and expanding it, intrigued me. My mother cared deeply about helping others but did not know how to start with self, first. I have spent many, many years in the use of emotional access elevators, descending and ascending core levels, placing markers, using the markers for anchors, listening and feeling the muscle organization and visualizing a different muscle organization story. It’s come time to expand on Mary’s legacy.

Then loneliness and panic settled in. I felt so alone like I couldn’t make even the tiniest of steps. I drove and felt. Drove and felt. Stopped to wash the car. Stopped for food. Drove home. Cried when I told my young housekeeper my mother had died the day before. I felt inclined to be embarrassed and wasn’t. I realized that the pain was different. I had mistaken the severity with familiarity. I didn’t “feel bad”, like a bad person which is usually the case. I felt pain for Mary, or guilt pain that I hadn’t been able to help her more. I suffered episodes of seeing her as having lived a failed life. There was so much she wanted to be, to do, to feel, but could not. From that reflection, I stepped along the path awhile.

Throughout the evening I moved in and out of pain zones, crying and smiling. I dropped in at the local pub seeking good conversation. Found higher levels of it than usual, and my muscle organization awareness constantly adjusted, containing me with safe, personal boundaries as I conversed. This experience felt closely linked to Mary in some way. I’m curious to know more.

I certainly did not grow up feeling comfortable in my own skin. I’m guessing my mother didn’t, either. She was always a bigger-than-life kind of person, moving through life with great enthusiasm and ability. Yet, inside, she felt unloved and scarred by her upbringing in a religious household by an authoritative father. I realized that she had started working as a caregiver in her early sixties, the same age I am now, and possibly this change reflected her need to be loved. The best she could do was give it to others, but not able to love herself, she slowly died. She talked about the importance of loving self, and I did what I could to share the slow success I was having in that direction. But she didn’t know how to listen to me. If you can’t listen to self you can’t listen to others.

At home, alone, I sat in my startling emotional pain and cried. Is this how it is supposed to be? I am meant to expand on the legacy handed down by my parents? Now they both are gone, and I’m the next generation for the final trek unto death. I suppose we all hope for these final years to be a spiritual transformation. I know my mother had planned on that, and as her years closed in, she obsessed with why she couldn’t let go of worry and guilt. She expressed that she had failed to learn the lessons her religious materials taught her. She regretted not knowing how to hug us kids and be more attentive to our needs.

I wanted so badly in my time with my mother to save her, to be important to her in this way. But I always felt I waited in line, that maybe someday my mother would want to know what I know. I always hoped I could help her as she helped me. She inspired me to be bigger than life, to pursue and believe in my dreams. I don’t really know what her dreams were, and don’t know if she fulfilled them. But I do know that I will live my life from here on out as if she were side by side, sharing good conversation.

Writer and Story Mapping Guide, I follow the life path no matter how challenging.