Today my mother, Ariel Wolfe, would be 79 years young. Two years ago as my sister Jaime, her daughters, and me held hands with the matriarch of our family, she took her last breath. We all stood motionless not knowing what to expect and numb with fear at losing the leader of our female clan. None of us had ever experienced the loss of someone so near and dear. Each one of us had our own unique connection with her and time would tell how each one of us would deal with this loss. This family of women loves fiercely and it would not be easy.
Within 48 hours of my mother’s transition, we all had to be on a plane to Chicago from Arizona. Like the true diehard spiritual warrior that she was, my mother in her infinite wisdom, passed away just in time so our family could be in Chicago to run our annual Celebrate Your Life conference. For 15 years, my mom and I worked side by side and created a company called Mishka Productions. We started with a phone line from her dining room and grew into something to be proud of. Named after our family dog, Mishka Productions was created from the love of my mother’s spiritual path. It is how she lived her life and became the great legacy that she passed on to her family. Like my mother’s teachings to her children, we endeavored to pass on these spiritual teachings to our worldly family so that all may experience what gave my mother’s life such purpose, passion and clarity. Mishka Productions creates heart opening and magnificent conferences and events with some of the country’s most inspiring authors and presenters. We loved creating these magical events together and it truly became a family business when Jaime and her daughters joined us. Mom always loved a good party and these magnificent events served not only to teach but to bring community together.
As I sat in the airport waiting to board the plane there was no doubt in my mind that my mother planned her transition to be at this exact moment. We had no choice but to hold it together. We had 25 of our clients meeting us in Chicago and over 1,700 people flying in from all over the world expecting an amazing weekend called Celebrate Your Life. Ariel would not have it any other way than to have us show up as the impeccable warriors that she taught us to be and carry on with the conference. She was exquisitely strong, gentle, patient, loving, brilliant and had such complete and total faith in God and we needed to show up, if for nothing else, but in her honor.
None of us remember any details of that weekend. We were so numb and still in shock. I had never known that such sadness was possible. My heart was broken. There were moments of grief that stole the breath out of my body. Although I love sharing my feelings with others and am very expressive, I learned that grief was a very private and personal process for me. I could not deeply mourn with anyone but myself. Soulmates come in all shapes, sizes and relationships and I had lost one of mine. My dear friend Mike shared something profound with me during this time. Mike said “the tears you shed are truly a tribute to how much you loved her.” I took comfort in this and allowed myself (and still do) the space to let the tears flow, but grief was a strange creature. No one prepared me for how disconnected and surreal life would be for awhile.
After returning from Chicago we had a memorial service followed by a party with balloons, a lot of dark chocolate and margaritas — my mother’s favorites. Whenever she spoke about passing away, the words, “you better celebrate my life and have a party” and we followed her instructions down to having purple and blue balloons. No party was ever complete without balloons according to Ariel. Several hundred people attended which once again showed me what an extraordinary and loved woman she was.
So here we are, two years later and it is her birthday. I loved her birthday because it gave me an opportunity to do something special, fun and a bit crazy for her. I was obsessed with surprise parties and on several occasions, Jaime and I managed to pull the wool over her eyes and surprise her. These moments, her laughter and joy are embedded in my heart forever.
This year, we celebrate our mother’s birthday by getting a group of people to see the new Harry Potter movie. The books brought her great pleasure as did the movies. She will be with us, or perhaps somewhere over the rainbow she is eating very dark chocolate truffles and sipping on margaritas. Here’s to you my beautiful mother, Happy Birthday! ”May you walk your path with dancing feet and a song in your heart” – Ariel Wolfe