In the next eight months, I was to learn even more than I had in the past 10 years from Libby. She bravely taught me -- and our entire family -- how to live full out while dying. "We are going to have hospice and it will be a beautiful death," she proclaimed. And throughout, she guided us unflinchingly in the work to say good-bye: 1) I forgive you. 2) Please forgive me. 3) I love you. 4) Thank you. 5) Good-bye.
It was dusk on the hottest day in 1988. I was lying beside Libby in her bed and holding her hand as she took her last breaths while we chanted her request of "forget-me-nots in Heaven." It was peaceful and beautiful.
As my spiritual mother slipped away, crying inside, I asked myself: Who is going to guide me through life? In the years since, I've discovered the answer. Libby left me with a profound mother's gift a lifetime of love and wisdom and support.
I never knew what happened to that little girl in my hometown who lost her mother so long ago. My Mother's Day wish for her is that she found a spiritual mother to hold her hand and launch her tenderly into life.
A pioneer in the field of life and executive coaching, Debbie Phillips is the founder of the organization Women on Fire and the author of "Women on Fire: 20 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!)". She has no children of her own but many spiritual daughters and sons.