The story of Aarika Wells, as told by her daughter, Aurora Wells…
Even from the top of the staircase, her smile lit up the room below. Family, friends and neighbors held a collective breath as we watched her descend, bird bones clutching the banister — as if it was our fear and feverish love that held her up. Hope welled up inside me once again. She hadn’t been able to walk on her own in two weeks.
I heard them say, “the cancer has spread,” “it’s too late for chemotherapy,” and “three to six months is realistic”… But I knew that miracles happen every day.
What did the doctors know? The word “terminal” rang like a hollow bell. I heard them say, “the cancer has spread,” “it’s too late for chemotherapy,” and “three to six months is realistic”… But I knew that miracles happen every day. I knew mind over matter is a powerful thing. And above all, I knew my mother. She would never leave me when she was still so young. We loved each other far too much.
I embraced her at the bottom stair. Her body felt like it was vanishing in my arms, but right then I knew better. Strength shown through her crystal blue eyes, and I was certain the future could be read there.
This is it, I thought with a deep inhale of her scent. This is what miracles are made of…
Those moments of elation made me dizzy, like the top of a roller coaster. I was constantly tense with anticipation. We were going to beat this. But Denial is a thinly veiled mistress — and when futility overwhelmed me (during those times the light shifted, and I could see plainly that my mother was dying), I would crash from the sheer exhaustion of trying to will her back to health.
“There was the holistic medicine and organic diet, the trip to Mexico for Laetrile — even a psychic healer.”
My despair was carefully masked during these lows of defeat. I swallowed my horror when I bathed my mother — her body wilting closer to her skeleton every day. My tears came only after I’d kissed her goodnight each evening. There was the holistic medicine and organic diet, the trip to Mexico for Laetrile — even a psychic healer. But through the polar highs and lows, I slowly came to understand that her life was ebbing and flowing away.
“Enough,” she said at last. I nodded, then took her in my arms and cried. All I had wanted was to hold her up, when all she wanted was to be let go.
The night my mother passed on, I dreamed of my very first memory. I was a baby being carried out into the ocean, beyond the waves, held firmly in the arms and on the hip of my mother; the current would swell then deflate, as if the ocean were breathing. My mother held me high when the water rose and lowered me as it subsided. Even as an infant, I understood with salient clarity that I was a part of something big and wonderful.
After her death, I found the poem Do not stand at my grave and weep folded in my mother’s wallet. I have no idea how long she held it, but it brings me comfort to this day.
My mother died of colon cancer in 1986. There was no miracle — but it was a blessing that she came to realize how much she was loved by so many. And a blessing, too, that by the time she was ready to go, I was finally ready to see her sail.