Having had a mother who always offered me the certainty of her presence either spoiled me or gave me the best of life’s vaccines. I remember clearly how aunts, uncles, grandparents, and sisters thought I was the most unpleasant girl growing up.  Unpleasant because when I wanted or needed safety, the only person that would do the trick to bring me such safety was Mom. If she wasn’t around I literally drove everyone crazy with my constant cry until Mom was finally summoned to my side.  In a way this made Mom proud, she felt special by being wanted and needed so badly. 
I have always had a sense of being an old soul.  My earliest memories are of a big interest in cooking, in taking care of children, knitting, embroidering, listening to soul stories, as well as having simple, deep conversations that were only possible with those older than me. As a child, being around adults was always more comfortable than being with my peers. And Mom was always my favorite. 
I was lucky to have her caring soul by my side the day I delivered my first baby when, though I was little more than a child myself.  As much as that drastic change of life could have threatened my closeness to her, our Latin way of being ensured that she was an integral part of my pregnancy, delivery and care of baby.  Her openness to be part of my life and of her first grandchild allowed me to have her shoulder to cry on when my baby boy was diagnosed with leukodystrophy.  A disease which meant we were to have him in our lives for just a few precious years.  In her way of expressing love, she turned into the best nurse for both he and I.  She was by my side that one rainy day in August when his little heart beat for the final time. 
As adults, living all together on the family compound, my brother and sisters, and I bathed our families in the rich blessings of the intimate contact with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Grandparents. As the years went by, I realized that this deep connection could also have its dark side.  For over a decade as a young mother, wife, aunt, and daughter I struggled for my independence, autonomy, affective needs, appropriate boundaries, growing into my marriage, and learning how to love while staying detached. I had chaffed at Mom’s need to control, with her hearing impairment, with her manipulative ways, her painful judgments, and her lack of boundaries. One day, I received my own little miracle.  My battle was over.  I remember making a conscious decision on that day to love mother just as she was.  In that moment I suddenly understood, without a doubt, that all of her behaviors stemmed from an endless deep love for all of us.  I finally understood that her intentions were always to show and express her love for us, and that she was a woman who exuded love through every pore.    
Our lives together opened up to include each other even more.  We shared hobbies, tea, paint class and our favorite subject, bee keeping.  It seems mother nature had decided, without consulting us of course, that our compound was just the right place for bees to live.  When they first arrived we were frightened by their presence, they didn’t seem to notice, however, and began building their hives in various places in our homes.  As was Mom’s nature, she was convinced that we had been given a special opportunity to learn how to welcome them and discover how to care for them, rather than fight them.  She led us to see them as a blessing rather than a nuisance.  She convinced us that it was our duty to become trained to create a home for them and to care for them; suggesting in return they would bless us through the gift of their golden nectar. Little did I know that there would be another lesson for me as a result of allowing them into my life.  So, we hired a professional beekeeper and met with him for hours each week as we learned about this special creature and its gifts to humankind. Our life was so blissful, precious and simple.  My intention was to be able to be with mom until her last heartbeat.  To be with her, just as she had been with my son in that very difficult night so many years ago. I had my heart set on holding her hand the day of her passing, until she would let go of my hand as her soul lifted.
This fantasy was crushed two months ago when dearest mom was shot to death, murdered, on her front doorstep.  Right in front of me.  Just 30 yards away.  It happened as I was literally walking out my front door, on my way to pick her up for our usually early morning time together.  As I walked out the door I heard her yelling something. I thought she was calling after the dogs.  I know now that she was pleading for her life.  The insane behavior of a man we had trusted for over a decade exploded in the form of gunshots marking the murder of my dear mother. 
Our family was been shattered.  I found myself struggling with a broken sense of spirituality. Being a yoga teacher, a therapist, being a person who had built (what I thought) was a strong sense of the meaning of life and death.  I had developed a strong connection to a God I had learned to trust and a belief that we never truly die, we only change suits.  The sudden tragic and inexplicable loss my Mom, my number-one sense of connection and love, took all that away in an instant like a tsunami.  My sense of identity was shaken to the core. I knew how to be Marie’s daughter, but I had (and still have) no idea of how to be Marie’s orphan. 
So, sensing my need to rediscover my spiritual connection, my teacher and mentor invited me to a spiritual retreat in South Dakota.  There he introduced me to the ways of the Lakota. The first day of the retreat we were to answer some very ” light” questions as we hiked into those undeveloped hills. 
The first question I set about to answer was, “Imagine that your spirit has led you to this place and time to teach you something.  What would it want you to know?”  As I walked towards a bluff where I had hoped to catch the sunrise, the mountain seemed to pull me into the thick forest.  I walked until I saw a large  rock that seemed to draw me towards it.  I felt compelled to sit down there. As I pondered the question of what my spirit might want me to know, I realized that what I wanted to know of my spirit was whether or not my mom lived on. The days after her death had been filled with comments from others like “your mom is in a better place”, “that God has a plan for everyone”, “that we will be joined one day”, though well-intended, had simply not helped.  In fact they had made me feel even more alone, because I wasn’t so sure that I believed any of that anymore.  I needed certainty. I wanted an experience, not someone’s thought, their belief or an idea.  
I found myself writing the word “Certainty” over, and over, and over again. After what felt like the hundredth time, something happened that literally paralyzed me.  A bee landed in the middle of my paper.  A bee….a honey bee. In the middle of the mountains.  I found out later that there aren’t supposed to be bees at the altitude we were at in the mountains.  My knowledge about bees told me that that the little critter had no business on my white paper, her main interest is pollen and nectar, she has no time to waste, what was it doing on a white piece of paper?? Suddenly a question formed and I asked it out loud……. Is this you mom? Immediately tears started pouring out, not in the usual way, they were literally shooting out from my eyes dropping and dampening my paper, the deluge not seeming to bother my friend who danced in eight shapes before me.  I knew that that dance was a way bees have about signaling other bees about the distance and direction of nectar and pollen, but why was it performing it’s dance on a white very wet piece of paper?  Was she informing me about the distance between my  soul and my mothers? Had this little creature been a delivery of a so desired message?
I knew at that moment what I was experiencing was what the Native people of the Black Hills of South Dakota teach.  They teach that we can learn to read the invisible world through the messages of nature.  I had just had my own experience.  Not someone’s idea or my own, but a real, amazing, instantly transforming experience.  My body literally began shaking and shivering.  My body was speaking to me of the certainty (there is that word again) of my mother’s continued existence.  I could feel her embrace in a very subtle yet powerful way.  I cried both in joy and sadness,  breaths in awe and disbelief..  A delightful mix of emotions giving me one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. That little creature of less than an inch in size had been able to instantly repair my broken heart in ways impossible to explain in written words.
Other phenomenal experiences continued to touch my heart and spirit during those magically blessed days of the retreat, and have continued to do so since I returned home.  I have been more open to those messages from the invisible world. More and more am I being able to have a new relationship with my dear mother, a more subtle, intimate and real relationship through them.  I still miss her never ending physical kisses and expressions of love, but I am learning to see her love appear in different forms, through the beautiful colors of birds, and in the unfolding of roses. Today I have the certainty that mother lives on in many ways, I just hope I will be able to give and show love to others as she taught and gave me.  I have since created that as my mission in life. It will be my inspiration, a way to honor her and the magnificent gifts she gave me by simply being who she was.