My mom left her body on May 7 around 6:20 pm and headed off into the Universe. I was there, along with my dad, my three sisters, my brother, my husband, brother-in-law and a few friends. On Monday, my sister, brother and I were with her, watching an old episode of Matlock, which she used to love when it was on regular TV. She complained that she was having some trouble catching her breath, but other than that, was listening and talking. Two days later she was gone.

All of my sisters and I wrote something to share at her service on May 14. I spent hours on my poem, crying through most of it until it felt just right, and then reading it aloud over and over until my public speaking experience took over and I was fairly confident I could read it without breaking down too much.

And I did.

I wanted to share the last stanza of the poem that I wrote because it sums up for me what it means to truly transition–in life, in work, in love, in our creative journey. Mom’s transition was incredibly sad and incredibly powerful at the same time. And this is what it meant to me:

Because of you, Mom,
I know what real strength and courage are
Especially in the end,
When you broke through your chrysalis-body and crept out,
step by step
Wet-winged and vulnerable–
But just for a moment
Until you turned your face to the sun
And flutter-danced love across rainbow light…
All the way home.

I know I must transition to a life without my mom in it. Her illness helped ease that process, but it couldn’t do it all. Holidays and family gatherings (of which there are many with the Vega clan) will have an emptiness until we feel more joy from memories than sorrow. I have no idea how long that will take; I only know I want to embrace each emotion as it comes and not push it down. I want to continue to become the person I know I can be, someone my mom and I can be proud of.

I have already been transitioning my approach to my books in a way that makes them more meaningful to me and (hopefully) to my eventual readers. My mom’s passing has made this even more a driving force as things that used to matter—ego-connected “fame and fortune” stuff—fall away to make room for what really matters to me now: love, connection, support, and validation. I’m learning that it’s about the giving, not the getting. That’s where joy and happiness lie.

May we all be strong enough to make our transitions in a flutter-dance of love and joy and pain and everything we bring to our life and work to share with the world.