On the night my mother died, it snowed.
I got the call, and drove through the flake-laden darkness to her hospice room for the final time. Death had wiped away all signs of stress, my mom looked peaceful and at least ten years younger. I sat with her body for a bit, eventually moved to gather the flowers and cards and the blanket that had been knitted just for her. I paused at the door for one last look. And then the coroner came to take her away.
The rest of the evening passed in a vague blur. Mom had finalized most of the arrangements, so it was just a matter of setting everything in motion. Afterwards, I nibbled on pizza, (is it strange that I can still recall this, almost six years on?), and then dropped into bed.
Morning came with a rush of remembrance. Grief, the shadow-ghost that had been lingering ever since my father passed a little over a year before, invaded my world yet again. I brewed some tea, a small, warm comfort, and settled in to check my e-mail. An update from Tuscan artist Daniel Martin Diaz, whose newsletters are infrequent and random, was tucked among the condolences. He was announcing a new work of art that, like many of his paintings, contained both text and image. This particular piece was of a stylized sugar skull, along with the Latin phrase, “Etiam in morte, perdurat amor.”
My tea cooled as I stared at the screen, incredulous as I translated the words. Tears came as I plugged them into the computer, just to make sure my translation was right. Sure enough, the words swimming before my eyes less than a dozen hours after my mother died, read…
Even in death, love prevails.
I thought about ordering a print of that work, or maybe a t-shirt, but time went on and I lost my window of opportunity. The sentiment, though, and it’s spectacular timing, stayed with me. This year, I decided to make my own sugar skull design, just in time to honor the day of the dead. It is dedicated to those that we hold near and dear in our hearts.