Sunday, December 23, 2007

Omi's Candle

During Mom's last few days of life, after she struggled to whisper to us that she was "floating" on a lake somewhere in the Alps near her childhood home of Traunstein, Germany, my brother lit her favorite Bavarian candle, the one with the traditional white and blue diamond pattern and the small edelweiss flowers etched along its base. That candle burned continuously as Mom finally stopped fighting and began to relinquish herself to forces more powerful than she.

In the very early hours of Easter morning in 2004, my father woke me from a fitful half-sleep and took my hand, leading me down the hallway to Mom. "If you’re very quiet, you can hear how peaceful death is,” he said to me sweetly.

In the still hours before dawn that morning, my brothers, my father, and I sat silently with Mom as she lay motionless, her breaths like a tiny, delicate little bird’s: very shallow, very regular, and very soft, with a faint rhythmic “click” to each breath. She looked totally relaxed. As Mom drifted sweetly and peacefully away, the flicker of her favorite Bavarian candle died with her, extinguishing itself exactly as Mom drew her last breath.

I'll never try to explain how or why the light of Mom's
Bavarian candle died exactly as Mom took her final breath that morning. Maybe it was coincidence.

Maybe it was a gift.

This past September, Tom and I visited Munich, Mom's favorite German city, and as we approached the Frauenkirche, I broke into sudden, uncontrollable tears. At that moment I could feel Mom's spirit like I never had since her death, and I missed her dreadfully.

Through the blur of my tears I noticed a small candle shop in the shadow of the church, and there in the window of the tiny shop was Mom's candle! Strong and solid, bright and colorful, it fought its way through my tears. Tom saw it just as I did and without a word he took my hand and led me into the tiny shop.

As we bought the candle, I
silently promised Mom that it would be lit each year on Christmas Eve, her favorite holiday, and a day that she filled to the brim with the Bavarian traditions that I've passed on to my own family.

Mom's candle now sits on our mantle, hidden amid the lighted garland. It will be lit this Christmas Eve for the first time.

My father has found love again and I've never seen him happier. I, too, adore Lou -- partly because, as a friend of Mom's who I first met at Mom's memorial, she will completely understand and support the lighting of Mom's small blue Bavarian candle and she will join us in our small tribute to Mom's undying spirit.

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Anonymous said...

*tears running down my face*

Goofball said...

that is very beautiful. it's great you've found the same candle!

Rositta said...

That is a beautiful story, I too have tears. For me this year Christmas is unofficially canceled, it was also my Mom's favourite time of the year. She was like a child and I just can't bring myself to celebrate just yet. Light that candle, I'm sure somewhere she is watching over you, Merry Christmas...ciao:)

Anonymous said...

The Bavarian colors are always referred to as white and blue, not blue and white. No big difference, but you would call the U.S. flag blue, white, and red, either.

Blog Antagonist said...

Thanks for sharing your love for your Mom with us. That was a beautiful gave me goosebumps.

Becky said...

Lovely, Carol. You made me cry. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

She-She C said...

I remember your mom's passing. Broke my heart then, breaks it now. The candle is a beautiful reminder of a beautiful woman. Treasure your memories and make new ones with your family. Merry Christmas, my dear friend.

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