Zeichnung, Graphit auf Papier, 30 cm x 42 cm, 2019
Graphit auf 5 A6 Notizbüchern
STERBENDE / DYING ONE
Shortly after Christmas, physicians found a tumor in our mother's head. Weeks before, she had spoken of difficulties in orientation. Later, it occurred that her memory at times completely blanked. When the tumor was found, the doctors said that surgery could remove it, that such surgery was medically well approved and patients could sometimes leave the hospital after only five days, that memory would return, and that survival without it would not be possible for more than a few weeks. The doctor, who had accompanied our mother very well for several years, strongly recommended taking this step. Ulrike took the decision and a few days later she went to hospital. After the surgery she did not wake up: the doctors had brought an intestinal germ into the brain and inflamed it severely. The inflammation became so serious that Uli did not regain consciousness and remained in a comatose state for over three months. During this time she went through many rescue-surgeries, several lung infections and physically, and through great pain physically and in her soul. She was also relocated to a different city as the hospital that had performed the surgery would not want to continue treatment and would take her off the ventilators.
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 radical. She did something that none of us had expected. She wanted to live. But she now put her deepest and highest intentions into action 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 alone within herself 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 hospital, her loneliness suddenly turned inside-out and in her coma she iniciated a process of love, total surrender, full attention and uncompromised responsability between all of us. Her presence guided this process and made it possible. Her quest for mediation between heaven and earth in everyday life came true. And her faith that every situation in life makes sense was realized: in my attention at her bedside I could observe that there was something happening right now that was beyond lying, the closed eyes, the swollen body.
Often we whispered at the bedside, my siblings and I: "do you feel this presence?". We had learned to lift ourselves 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: in endless listening to her. The most intimate and loving, indeed, the most inspirited 'silent conversations' emerged. The exchange had never been so direct and uncompromising. 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 everyday life between us. She had become accustomed. And now she broke away from any such custom. She suddenly became free and her intentions of love became completely present as a gift and we now acted from them. All of a sudden there was a 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 the presence of her spirit and to have contact with her. Even now, when she 'ascended' even further. It became more beautiful, more refined, more loving, more luminous. This clarity in the interpersonal, this radicalness to fully perceive what is, gave confidence and security. I felt carried. In the last hours of death, in which the last pneumonia had intensified greatly, various painkillers and consciousness weakening morphines were to be given to take away the pain and fear in death. But we had experienced: with full attention and dedication, being loving in the center of a process, and walking through it with courage, relieves pain and sheds light on what is essential. So our mother was able to go into her death with a clear soul and unchanged consciousness, without much 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 walk all possible ways. We do not know Beauty - without looking. Only attention shows us what is. When she lay there and had left her body, there was nothing more beautiful than this.
All images are copyrighted by Philip Stoll