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Shortly after Christmas, doctors found a tumour in our mother's head. Weeks before, she had spoken of difficulties in her orientation. Later, it so happened that her memory kept dropping out completely.When the tumour was found, the doctors said that an operation could remove the tumour, that such an operation was medically well proven and patients could sometimes leave the hospital after only five days, that the memory would come back and that survival without this operation would not be possible for more than a few weeks. The doctor, who had accompanied our mother well for several years, strongly recommended taking this step. Ulrike decided her self for it and a few days later she was in hospital. After the operation, she did not wake up: the doctors had brought an intestinal germ into the brain and severely inflamed it. The inflammation became so severe that Uli did not regain consciousness and remained in a comatose state for over three months. During this time, she went through many attempts of surgery, several pneumonias and through physical as well as mental pain. She was also transferred to a new hospital as the hospital that had performed the surgery did not want to continue treating her but take her off the ventilator.
On Easter Thursday she died in the hospital in Bad König. It was a great gift for us. I often look at it with amazement that she had such great courage and died. It was very radical. She did something that none of us had expected. She wanted to live. But she now put her deepest and highest intentions into practice in this new process of dying, with a force that finally brought her spirit all the way down to earth: for many years she had spoken of this: to bring her inner self out into the open, to share the life she led within herself alone with others, to become transparent, to be loved and to love. For years, her intention was to live a vibrant and healthy life of the soul in openness and sharing with the world around her.
In her process in the hospital her loneliness suddenly turned inside-out and in her coma she became part of a process of love, total surrender, total attention and uncompromising care between all of us. Her presence guided this process and made it possible. Her wish for mediation between heaven and earth in everyday life came true. And her belief that every situation in life makes sense was realised: in my attention at her bedside I could observe that something was happening that was far greater than lying there, eyes closed, with a body swollen. Often we whispered to each other at the bedside, my siblings and I: "do you also perceive this, this presence?". We had learned to lift ourselves up to where Ulrike had been hovering for months. Simply our love and our will, to be in relationship with her, so intensified in this situation, had taught us to communicate with her: hours, days, weeks of meditation, endless listening to her. The most intimate and loving, indeed, the most inspired 'silent conversations' emerged. The exchange had never been so direct and uncompromising before. There were always ideas in the way about who we were for each other and how far we could go for and with each other. We had put the everyday life between each other. She had become accustomed. And now she was breaking away from it. She suddenly became free and her intentions of love became fully present as a gift and we now acted from them. All of a sudden there was great freedom in her life and the people around her lived and loved in it.
When she died it was not too big a step to continue to meet and have contact with her presence. Even now, as she 'ascended' even further. It became more beautiful, more refined, more loving, more luminous. This clarity in the interpersonal, this radicality, to fully perceive what is, gave confidence and security. I felt carried. In the last hours of death, when the last pneumonia had intensified strongly, various painkillers and consciousness-inhibiting morphines were to be administered to take away the pain and fear in death. But we had experienced: with full attention and devotion, being loving in the centre of a process, and walking through it with courage, eases pain and sheds light on what is essential. So our mother was able to go into her death with a clear soul and unaltered consciousness, without great pain.
For me, life becomes more radical, brighter, more loving. I am very grateful to be able to experience such a living connection to the world of intentions, to the world of the spirit, guided by her hand, by which she takes us. I am ready to go all possible ways. We do not know what is beautiful - without looking. Only attention shows us what is. When she lay there and left her body, there was nothing more beautiful than this.
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All images are copyrighted by Philip Stoll