Can relationships with loved ones continue even after they've passed on? That's a question I’ve been asking myself a lot over the last year, since I lost my mom. The pain was beyond anything I’d ever experienced before . . . because of how close we were, of how we talked every day about anything and everything.
But even though we can no longer speak, I sometimes feel her presence in a way I can't fully explain. The first instance of this came moments after she died in our home. The nurse stepped outside and there was a dragonfly right above our front door, so she brought my dad, brother and me out to see it. This wouldn’t have meant anything to us, but the nurse said it was odd because in hospice they use dragonflies above a door as a signal that someone has passed. And since then, my dad and I have had the strangest encounters with dragonflies. They’ll land on us, hover in front of us for a little too long, and my mom's friends have relayed similar stories. So my dad and I keep track of each occurrence in a green leather bound notebook, as a way of reminding ourselves that her presence is still felt.
So, yes — I believe the process of noticing and documenting is a way of maintaining a relationship with my mom, even if she isn’t physically here. Along with speaking of her often, reading her words, and asking myself what she would have thought or wanted.
Nothing ever perfectly depicted this sentiment until I stumbled upon this image by @maegamimami, a Japanese illustrator on Instagram. It's of a girl in black, in mourning, hugging a formless presence. For me, it represents the idea that love lingers even if it isn't confined to a body. And I think this is true whether you are spiritual or not. Because if you can remember kind words spoken, remember joyful moments shared, those memories can be recalled into the present. So in that way, I continue to speak my mother into life, and I allow her to be my guiding light.
Maegami Mami [@maegamimami]. Illustration of Girl in Mourning Hugging Flowers. Instagram, 7 Oct. 2017, www.instagram.com/p/BZ83SmhHg1L/?igshid=f9iz9h8ukv99.