One month ago today my mother passed away; before I awoke she visited me in a vivid dream. “Hey, Chris,” a familiar voice said. I looked up for a fraction of a second and saw a figure in front of me, to my right.
I almost got lost in another dream stream when the second “hey,” caught my full attention. I looked back and saw my mom, smiling. She was bathed in bright white light. Her figure was outlined in different spectrums of pastel colored light. “I miss you,” I told her; she neared and we gave each other a long hug.
She didn’t say anything more; she didn’t need to. This encounter assured me she is still alive in me and always will be. Furthermore, I knew she was at peace.
One might assume this was a typical dream; however, when I’m contacted in a dream by spirit, whether it’s my mom or sister, there is a heightened state of reality. The dream feels palpable, more in the moment. I’m more in control. Most of the time, I’m what psychology would call a non-recaller. Streams of consciousness like this, I can’t forget.
During my mom’s final days, I told her how blessed I was to have her as my mother; how much I’ve learned from her; how I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her. Now, I’d like to write you a little something to get you acquainted with her even more than you already might.
I remember as a child opening a closet filled with bundles of every color yarn. Each was organized by color and project—that is, until I became old enough to open that door. When mom was busy doing laundry, I’d riffle through that closet, mix up the yarn, and cut off pieces to play with. Let’s just say, when she did open that door and it all busted out, she was not impressed with the mess.
Each year of my childhood, my mom would stay up night after night before Halloween, designing and sewing custom costumes for my sister, brother, and me. As an awkward and shy child, Halloween was the one time of year I felt comfortable in school. I don’t think she knew how much the costumes improved my self-esteem. I was proud to strut those award-winning costumes around at parties, in town, and especially at the annual Dallas Halloween Parade, where my siblings and I would win best costume prizes each year, thanks to mom.
Even though my mom wanted my sister to take interest in sewing, it was me, the artsy-fartsy one, who showed curiosity; although my mom would have much rather me lift weights, she did teach me how to hand sew and set up and use a sewing machine; I am so thankful to have this knowledge and have made many projects, including custom bowties and have custom-fitted many of my clothes.
I delighted in flipping through the fashion magazines she’d subscribe to. She was a runway model, and a teacher at Barbizon School of Modeling, after all. It was her absorption in the fashion world that sparked my interest in style, clothing, and exploring my appearance.
At every event, my mom carried a camera with her and forced everyone to take too many photos. “Come on, just one more,” she’d say. At the time, it was irritating because one, or two, or even three were never enough. Today, I’m blessed to have those memories. Nowadays, people associate my presence with a Nikon pressed to my face, taking a million photos. Now you know who I got it from.
Whenever there was a potential occasion for celebration, my mom gave her all to make it happen. Graduations, birthdays, my sister’s baby shower, my book signing, she supported us, making sure we got together to celebrate life. They might have been stressful to organize, but always worth it.
I experienced my mother’s loving kindness and compassion towards animals, the disabled, the unborn, and all those who are not able to speak up for themselves. I am blessed for her passionate actions and I will carry these values with me for the rest of my life.
One of my most fond memories with my mom was story time as a child. Every night she’d tuck me in and sit beside me; she’d then read me something from one of the many volumes of The Sesame Street Treasury, or a Dr. Seuss book. She was brilliant at narrating, making me giggle at every sentence. I especially enjoyed when she’d get our cats involved.
I was blessed to care for my mom when her body and mind was failing her. Watching her, the strongest woman I know, deteriorate within a few months was heartbreaking; as I braced her up to help her walk, or fed her when she no longer could feed herself, I kept one thing in mind when the situation seemed too dreadful: I was giving back. I was returning the love and care she gave me as a child. Albeit tinged with pain, this realization was a wonderful feeling. It kept me strong for her. If anyone reading this has the opportunity to care for a loved one, I encourage you to take it! Work, playing with your phone, Tv, going to the bar, gaming—all those inane activities can wait when someone you love is in need. Giving back is one of the most rewarding feelings I believe I have ever felt.
For the last few months, I have become too familiar with a few horrifying things: first, brain cancer, specifically glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of cancer; second, I have navigated the buildings of hospitals and hospices now with such ease it’s like I work there; people can die of a broken heart; and lastly is the notion that nothing is guaranteed—it has bashed me over the head so hard it’s left me feeling assaulted.
None of us are guaranteed anything but knowing impermanence is an undeniable and inescapable fact of human existence. As hard as it is to hear, we are not guaranteed to marry the love of our life, to have our goals come true, to get that dream job, have the perfect body, to live long enough to enjoy a relaxing retirement, win the lottery, stay healthy, outlive our children, or to even live another day. We can’t change everything, but there is some hope—we can change the way we react to them.
Losing my sister, her death still unresolved, and my mother, in less than a year is life-changing. I am in the same body, but I am living a different life. This experience has engrained in me something so cliché, but inevitably true: We must remember, our existence in these earthly bodies are just a tiny blip in time. What we do with our time here will leave a lasting imprint. I believe it is our responsibility to leave the most exemplary impression we can, not just for ourselves, but for our loved ones, and for the rest of the universe. Let our attention be used on what karma we are creating at this moment.
I miss my mom’s smile, her laugh, her goofy personality, and our hikes through the forest. I don’t get to call my mom on the phone, spend special occasions with her, laugh with her, or physically hug her; however, I am blessed to have the chance to make her proud by making a difference, in her memory.
I hope you’ll join me in raising money for a nonprofit called Pennsylvanian’s For Human Life. While volunteering at this pregnancy crisis center, my mom tirelessly helped her community, supported the needs of mothers-to-be, comforted rape victims, and informed the public on protecting the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception.
I want her volunteer work for this organization to continue forever in her name; accordingly, I painted an acrylic titled “Madonna and Child” in honor of her and her devoted volunteering at this organization. The painting will be raffled off [date to come]. All proceeds will benefit the Human Life center where my mom gave her life to benefit the protection of the unborn so they may enjoy their life.
Please check back soon for complete information on the raffle.
Special thanks to my mom’s friends. You are so important to her; the two fundraisers you worked so hard on were a beautiful way to celebrate my mom’s life. If you haven’t already seen the photos I took, click HERE to view the Baloga Beach Party at Harveys Lake. Click HERE to view the Baloga Fund Raiser Reception at the Lakeside Skillet. Thanks to you, we will all cherish these memories forever.
Most importantly, I want to thank my father for taking care of my mom, through sickness and in health. I only hope most partners in this world would go to the lengths he did to care for her.
Each night my mom was in care, he stayed with her. When there was no room for him inside the hospital, he slept outside her window in a caravan, never wanting to leave her side. Yes, as he can tell you, his patients was tested; however, my father took his vows to heart and love reigned. I will never forget how admirable my fathers undertakings were.
I will always long for the days when she was living, laughing, and loving life with us. Every phone call, every card sent, each visit from a friend, every hug and caring expression shared with her was appreciated; not just by her, but by all of her loved ones. You all have brought so much joy and comfort to my mom and our family during this time; and for that, we are blessed.
If love alone could have kept my mom here, she would have lived forever.
*For a complete list of her accomplishments, please read her obituary HERE.
*I’ve compiled some of my favorite photos that were meant for the viewing. Due to technical difficulties, the funeral directors couldn’t get the flash drive running; the good new is you can now view them all HERE.