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My mother is dying.

In this season of plastic trees and LED lights artificially keeping the darkness at bay, I am turning more to the long dark that precedes the winter Solstice. I’ve known that my mother, like the sun, is journeying into this darkness since Thanksgiving. I also know, that unlike the sun, she will not pause before turning back to make the long walk into summer. Weekly, she is fading before my eyes, and in the dark small hours of the night, I silently pray to whatever powers of mercy and compassion that there may be, that she just closes her eyes soon to this cold world and slips peacefully away into the West.

But, I am still her child. Both my heart and head periodically go into dread denial of this fading, and the soft greys of winter become bleak. In those times, I look more often at photographs of Newgrange and Dowth on the winter Solstice. The people who built those passage tombs are my Ancestors. Their wisdom is in my blood, and when I see these photographs, I can hear inside myself their silent and ancient messages of hope. The spirit is eternal. The sun returns even when our loved ones do not. The sun carries them to the lands of the Blessed, and tells us that one day, she will carry our spirits too.

My mother is journeying into the long dark, but she will not reside there long… she, too, will pass beyond it and dwell on silver shores with her mother and father, and their mothers and fathers before them.

For the time that I remain behind, at the winter Solstice, I will sit in darkness illuminated by white lights on my tree and tell her stories as each ornament catches my eye.