By Kátia Moraes

I think that one of the strangest feelings in life is the one you feel when you have to let someone you love go from this lifetime. I’d feel really selfish if I had held on to my mother’s life one more day. That was not “life”, that was misery. I thought about that in my trip to Oregon. Oregon is the only state in the Unites States that legally allows people to be medically assisted when they want to die. I don’t know if my mother would have chosen that way. She was very catholic and she’d have to break a lot of taboos before doing so.

I also remembered all of these because my auntie has just lost her mother of cancer. She told me similar words I’ve said twenty years ago when I lost my mom. We talked about taking care of the one we love, like feeding, bathing, communicating by few words or even a look in the eye. It’s a painful experience and it’s also an enriching one.I remember when she whispered her last whisper and rested. I kneeled at the bedroom’s door and looked up to the ceiling. I felt sad and relieved. And that feeling was so weird to me.

I felt much better when she passed on. Her last weeks made me loose track of time. One day was just like the other. And it was pretty painful to watch her falling apart. The dying process took nine years. I wished she had died in a car accident or something like that: fast and painless. I remember watching her muscles relaxing. Years later, when I was doing my first yoga class, I understood what the teacher meant with the “dead pose.” I also understood how hard is to face an emaciated body. My father paid to fill up the coffins with a lot of roses (her name was Rose). I laughed nervously in the cemetery when I saw her “suffocated” by so many flowers. And my dad got mad at me, of course.

For years I couldn’t watch those starving people in Ethiopia on TV. I’d cry every time. I understand that this subject can be unpleasant for the majority, but my intention here is to share with you a fact of life. Because once we talk about it, the whole “vibe” of morbidity starts to disappear. And when that happens we start feeling that life is a miracle, and that there’s more to it than the flesh, politics and petty things.

Two years after I lost my mom, I lost a very good friend. I remember looking out a window with another friend when we got the news. Outside that window was a river. My friend and I were in silence for awhile. Then he looked at me and said: “Life is like this river. It keeps moving.” When I got home, I found a book my mother liked it very much. The title of it was “Don’t speed the river. It runs by itself.”

In memory of Almir Chediak, Nina Simone, Barry White, Compay Segundo and Celia Cruz. God bless them!

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