Monday, October 31, 2011

The Paths of Sorrow

There is a fatigue that exists beyond the physical, when the mind and heart begin to realize that the pain will not be going away with any speed, that things will not be better tomorrow, or the next day, and maybe not even the day after that.

We begin to settle onto the path that is mourning and we walk more slowly because we now understand that there is no rushing off of this road. We may not be walking alone, but we begin to see that in some deep way, even with God, our families and communities beside us, we are utterly alone with our pain.

We keep walking, because we must, because as far away as it seems, there is a place on this path where the pain melts into compassion, where emptiness invites unity, where tears becomes less for our pain and more for the pain of others.

Those who submit to the path of sorrow and enter freely into the deep places of pain become people who are acquainted with the deep. It is in the deep that God's face is most clearly seen, in the deep where joy resides, in the deep where life is found.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Mother, Myself, Part 2

In my last post, My Mother, Myself , I wrote about sharing my birthday with my mom, who was in the hospital with cancer. Mum passed away 10 days later. It was quiet and peaceful, a slowing down and stopping. She had been in the hospital for a month.

Mum died on Monday, October 17th, we held a memorial get-together for her on Friday, October 21st, at the senior's home where she had volunteered for the last 18 years of her life, my sisters and I and our families got together on Saturday, October 22nd to sprinkle Mum's ashes in Longue Sault, at a pretty spot on the bank of the St. Lawrence river, and then I went home.

I confess to having spent a few days trying not to think about Mum. Sunday was a hard day, and somewhere inside of me I decided that come Monday, I was going to be the Kelly that goes to school, that makes food for her family and cleans and needs to study for a history test this week. Not, the Kelly who's mum just died. Just for a few days. Still, I bought frames for Mum's pictures and put them up in prominent places where I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, not to look too hard at them. And I talked about Mum incessantly because as much as my brain may want to shut itself off, my tongue seems to be attached to my heart.

The problem is, this is uncharted territory. It's uncharted, not just because I have never had to deal with a loss this significant before, but also because each one of us is a unique being, with our own thoughts and feelings, our individual inner workings. When my sisters and I talk about what we are going through, we do share some similar experiences, but at the same our relationships with Mum were different and so our experiences in dealing with her death will be different.

So, how am I doing? I don't know. I think about Mum a lot. Every night I wrap myself up in a quilt that Mum gave me, and fall asleep holding on to a piece of black corral hanging on a chain around my neck. I feel anxious frequently, because I sense that my ability to deal with conflict is greatly (and hopefully temporarily) diminished. I am tired. A lot. It's the kind of tired that sleep doesn't relieve. I cry at unexpected and odd times, like in the post office or in history class. I find myself feeling irritated easily, which is probably connected to the fatigue and the anxiety. I have a hard time concentrating. Last week's history notes are a jumble of half finished sentences that I would start but not remember how to finish. And I want to take care of people. It seems that mourning my Mum has kicked my maternal instincts into over-drive.

On Saturday night, I found myself laughing hysterically at the antics of a comedian on the television. Then I was sobbing like a heart-broken child.

I guess that's how I am doing.

I want to take this time time express my deepest gratitude for all the kind words and thoughts that have been sent my way, and also for the prayers from my brothers and sisters in the faith. I pray that some day, you will know how much of a blessing and gift you truly are. I am a grateful woman. Thank you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Mother, Myself

Years ago someone gave me a book called, My Mother, Myself. As the title suggests, the book focused on the relationship between mothers and daughters, and how our mothers influence the women we grow up to be. I started reading it, but I don't think I finished it. Thanks to a faith in God, I had already gotten to the point in my life when I was uncomfortable assigning blame for my weaknesses and oddities on my Mom. I knew that both my parents were human beings, and as such, prone to frailties that had helped make me the person I was, weirdnesses and all. I had come to understand that no matter what ball my parents had tossed to me in the parental game of life, I was the one who had chosen to take the ball and run with it, and therefore I was ultimately responsible for the things I carried with me from childhood.

I've been thinking about the title of that book today, though, because today is my 45th birthday. I have been feeling melancholy all day, and on the way home from the grocery store this afternoon, I realized why. Today is not just the anniversary of the day I was born. It is also the anniversary of the day my mom gave birth to me. This realization was poignant for me. My mom is in the Ottawa Cancer Research Centre, after having received a diagnosis of stage-4 lung cancer, which has spread throughout her body. The body that carried me for nine months, that sheltered and protected me and then worked so hard to introduce me to the world, is suffering, breaking down, expiring. The woman that nurtured and cared for me is now being nurtured and cared for as she faces what is most likely the end of her life.

Most of my birthdays are about becoming a year older, eating cake, good wishes on Facebook, being with friends and family. This year it is about preparing to say good-bye to the woman who made sure I would see this day.

As a mother, on my daughter's birthday, I always go back in time to the day that she was born. I remember that day with joy. Grace's birth day is a celebration for me as well as for her. She celebrates being born, and I celebrate giving birth to her. Yet I have never seen my birthday as a day that might include thoughts of my mother. This is new to me. This is also wonderful. And sad.

Forty-five years ago today, I opened my eyes and looked into my mother's eyes for the first time. In the near future, it is entirely possible that I will look into my mother's eyes for the last time on this earth. The years in between have been full of many things; hard things, sweet things, the things that make life, life. They have been full of love, which I was only able to fully appreciate when I stopped demanding that my mother's love be presented to me in a manner of my approval, and started accepting her as a woman who loved me the way she loved me and I could receive it or reject it but I had no right to judge that it was not there, that it was not real.

On our birthdays, we say thank you a lot. For gifts, for good wishes, for another year. Today I am grateful for the woman who shared this day with me, 45 years ago. I thank God for her, and ask Him to make me a blessing to her. I pray that the God who loves her with a passion that she cannot even imagine will draw her to Him, and carry her through these days. Of course I pray that these would not be her last days, but should they be, I pray that they will not be an end, but be a beginning - of eternity, of life, of hope, of dancing and singing and joy and laughter and boundless love.

Today is a day that she and I share. Happy Birth Day, Mum. I love you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Because it's true...

I was asked today, for the umpteenth time, this question. Now it is time for an answer.

The question? Why would a woman assert out loud that only a pathetic, small, weak little man would hit a disabled woman, even though she had been threatened with physical violence if she said it?

Because it is true.

Refusing to speak the truth, even in the face of threats of physical violence, may guard the body, but it kills the soul. Speak the truth. The body heals quicker than the soul.
My Zimbio