Silver Necklace and Rebirth Mark on Skin
A Nebulous Number of Days of Atomity and Memory
Wearing My Heart on My Shin
In recent years, funeral homes started offering a rather novel keepsake, namely that of having your loved one’s fingerprint etched onto a finely crafted piece of jewellery. Regretfully, this wasn’t a service available at the time of my father’s passing, but I have such tokens with my elder brother’s and mother’s fingerprints. In my mother’s case, the impression of her fingertip is on the reverse of a delicate, silver heart-shaped pendant.
My mother’s transition was not a short or peaceful one. For more than two years she languished and her bodily functions painfully shut down incrementally. On my second to last visit with her, it was the first and only time she had taken a hold of my hand and pleaded with me not to leave. Typically, she shooed me away, unnecessarily mindful of my time and always concerned about me returning to Toronto by public transit before dark. So, the day when the compassionate attendants in her long-term care home intuited it would be her death day, I knew in my soul she was indeed finally ready to let go.
The home called my brother letting him know her transition was imminent and he in turn rang me to advise me it was time to come to her side and sit vigil. After receiving the distressing message, I set out on my customary one-plus hour trek, but it turned into an almost six-hour journey. The train in which I was riding was involved in a fatal accident in the suburban countryside between Toronto and Hamilton and miles away from any roadways.
The train staff were whisked off in less than an hour after the tragedy. The passengers, however, were held hostage for upwards of four hours while the police and train authorities conducted their investigation. When the train was finally given permission to proceed, it dropped us off at the next stop and was decommissioned. As this is the busiest commuter corridor in the country, and trains had come to a halt for more than half a day, I found myself in a crowd of hundreds and hundreds of people trying to get home during rush hour. And I, in my doubly traumatic and dissociated state, and with the sound of metal scraping against metal still ringing in my ears, had to figure out how to complete the voyage to my mother’s bedside without being trampled.
I eventually made it and my mother, bless her soul (literally), was still hanging on. I sent my brother home as we had previously made a pact that I would be the one present for her last breaths, given the option. He had taken on that role during my father’s transition and, as my mother’s primary care-giver for the two years leading up to this day, my brother chose not to be present for my mother’s final moments on the Earth plane. It was just too much for his sensitive soul. So, my mother, on one of the most peaceful days she had experienced in a couple of years, passed later that evening, with me at her bedside, but only after I had turned out all the lights and was trying to fall asleep myself.
As humans are known to do, we go into survivor mode after someone’s passing. I can also honestly say I did not feel grief for some time as I was so relieved my mother had finally shed the physical body that had tormented her for so long and which was anchoring her, against her will, to this world. And then, in less than a week after laying my mother’s body to rest, the first wave of the global pandemic came crashing down around us. I never made it back into work as I was on the tail end of my bereavement leave and was advised to stay home and set myself up for working from home.
It was under these conditions that my mourning period started, while in the throes of trying to help my company set up the new work-from-home protocols required to carry on a business deemed essential under the unprecedented Emergency Orders Act. I wasn’t particularly productive at that time and I now recognize I probably had a form of PTSD from having watched my mother suffer with anguishing pain for so long combined with recently having been involved in that fatal train accident. I was, therefore, drifting somewhere off the coast of La-La Land for the last months of my administrative career.
I was never bestowed with the kind of signs from the other side from my mother like the ones with which I had been gifted by my father and brother after they had passed, with the exception of one small, but unforgettable message. The day after my mother’s passing, I received a phone call on my land line, one that I identified via my call display as being a robocall. I purposely didn’t pick it up, and all that was recorded on my analogue answering machine (the phone from the Twilight Zone) was an electronic generated voice that said, “goodbye.” I recorded that haunting adieu and still have it saved on my mobile.
However, there was a much more curious and unique sign that developed over the period of a few months following my mother’s transition. A sun spot erupted on my shin, a couple of inches below my knee. I’ve had such blemishes materialize before, as I was a sun worshipper most of my life. I have many a reminder on my body of sunburns acquired in places like Panama, Southern France, Colombia, Greece, and Bora Bora. But this particular mark broke out in three tiny but distinct sections. Subsequently, the three parts merged together and had shaped into a heart – not that of the biological heart, but the form of a greeting card or emoji heart.
In my mind, the three segments represent the souls of my father, brother, and mother. Many people might think I have read far too much into what I prefer to call a ‘rebirth’ mark (‘mole’ just sounds far too mundane for this remarkable phenomenon). But these are the kinds of things to which I have learned to pay attention in the last decade. I also do not believe it’s happenstance that the blemish appeared somewhere I cannot help but observe every single day.
Over time, the rebirth mark has become slightly lighter in shade, and it’s lost some of its three-dimensionality. If it follows the same pattern as other spots that have sprung up on sun kissed parts of my body, it may even flatten out entirely – but the slightly darker pigment will not vanish.
I mentioned this manifestation to an energy practitioner who has been guiding me through grieving the loss of my three closest relatives as well as the slipping away of the world as we have known it. My wise mentor made THE most sublime comment. She said, “isn’t the body’s wisdom amazing?” Indeed, it is. Not only do I have my mother’s fingerprint on the reverse of a heart-shaped pendant, but I will be wearing this heart on my shin for as long as my soul continues to inhabit the vessel I call my body.