My beloved friend and mermaid sister Nora Cedarwind Young is terminally ill. We don’t know how much time she has left. I am putting most of my business on hold as I move into the role of death midwife for her (though not I am not certified). It’s a role she has held for many others, including my own father.
I am spending several hours a day, most days, with Nora, sitting with her quietly, talking and laughing, singing to her, wrapping energy around her, and reading the messages and tributes to her that people are writing. The rest of the time I am helping her husband with logistical issues, fielding messages and phone calls, and trying to get some rest.
Each day I read more of the messages to her, and she laughs, and tells me stories about some of the people who are writing. She is deeply touched and a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. I have broken down and bawled more than once as I was reading the tributes to her. She smiled at me sweetly and fell asleep.
I have not yet been able to write my own tribute.
Today I told her that her husband Bud asked me to paint a mermaid on the lid of the cardboard cremation container that will hold her when the time comes. I also told her that on Wednesday, Spring Equinox, her local friends will gather to help to decorate the container. She immediately wanted to give me books and resources, as she has taught workshops on this very topic! So strange and yet so wonderful to be able to talk about this with her.
If you would like to read some of the tributes being written to Nora, they are on this public Facebook page and also on a “Nora Cedarwind Young Life Appreciation Page” that Selena Fox set up on the Circle Sanctuary site. Some of you have already commented and sent your love to me and to Nora, and you have my deepest appreciation.
I see that the news about Nora is spreading, with posts on the Wild Hunt and the Pagan Newswire Collective. I told one of her nurses today (with a twinkle in my eye), “Nora is kind of a big deal, you know.”
“Oh I do know,” the nurse replied, and Nora laughed her big belly laugh.
Her work with reclaiming end-of-life practices, green burials and home funerals has been an inspiration and solace to countless numbers of people.
But to me, she is my friend, my confidant, my beloved mermaid priestess sister.
This is the season of death and resurrection. My own beloved son died on a full moon in April, 24 years ago. Sometimes, when the Earth comes alive at Spring Equinox, we feel ourselves hovering in that liminal place between life and death and rebirth.
The Earth once again is our most profound Teacher and our Healer.
Nora posed for the image below for me about ten years ago, and she later used it as the logo for her death midwifery work.