“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” – Unknown
I saw that quote on my Pinterest wall and thought how it matched what I was feeling as I experienced my first Mother’s Day without my mom.
I woke up that morning and remembered right away what day it was. So, I got busy. Busy so I wouldn’t have to think about it. I read the New York Times page by page. I worked in my garden. I went biking for a long time. I did two loads of laundry. I did some work. I read. I cat snuggled. I husband snuggled. I watched TV. All of this to keep from thinking about it being Mother’s Day.
What was I afraid of? Why did facing this day seem overwhelming to me?
I started thinking about some of the things people had shared with me over the past month about how they felt about losing their mother:
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her… and, it’s been 12 years. In fact, I think she’s closer to me now than she was when she was living.”
“Whatever went on between you and your mother can get resolved right now. She’s listening to you. That’s what I realized after my mom died. Sometimes you can have the first real conversation you’ve ever had. And, if you pay attention and are open to it, you’ll hear her response.”
“At the very end, I let my mom know it was ok for her to leave. I could almost see this wave of relief pass through her body. She was so tired and she was ready to leave. Perhaps, she was ready to go to the party on the other side. I know you did that for your mom, too, and that was a gift to her from you and your sister.”
“One of the strangest parts for me was realizing that I am now the matriarch of the family. Holy cow. Not a role that I ever thought I would fit into.”
I looked through some photos and decided that keeping a special memory jar would be fitting going forward so I wouldn’t let precious memoires be lost. And, I would talk with her. Perhaps even more than I had over the past several years. It would be easier now. It can happen at any time.
So, I know the tender spot of losing a mom will not be lost… probably ever. There will always be a tug at my heart just like it’s been since our dad left us 18 years ago.
But, the memory jar will be full.
“God may be in the details, but the Goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.” Gloria Steinem
On this weekend when we traditionally celebrate our mothers – all the mothers in the world - for me, it will be a time to celebrate women everywhere. The famous, the unknown, the voices that have risen up and taken action all over the world, and the unsung heroines who are in the trenches day after day.
I don’t believe it’s just me noticing it… but, women are taking a stand on more issues, letting their voices be heard and refusing to be silenced. Whether it’s issues of sexual assault in the military, in the Friday Night Lights’ football towns, on college campuses, in India, in the Congo, and countless other places all over the world…women are coming forward and saying, “No more.”
Whether it’s the real violence against women or the representations we see in the media, as entertainment, or on Facebook pages, more and more women are saying , “No more.”
Whether it’s in the issues that affect us and our families economically, with our health care, or in our places of work, if our voices need to be heard, if the questions need to be asked and answered, and if, “That’s the way it’s always been done” doesn’t suffice anymore, let’s let our voices be heard. Strong. Frequently.
This is the weekend I will celebrate women. As a matter of fact, I do that every day as I stand with more of my sisters who are finding their voices and letting them be heard. There’s no turning back.
I celebrate you all.
“Dear life, When I said ‘can my day get any worse’ it was a rhetorical question not a challenge.” Tweet by Will Ferrell @WillyFerrell
When I saw that, I knew that Will Ferrell and I were having the same type of day. Or, more precisely, the same type of week in my case.
From rupturing a disc in my back last week to salmonella poisoning from bagged greens this week and everything in between… I am ready for a change in energy – for a new wind to blow through to clear some of this mess out.
I was talking with a friend and she, too, felt the same feeling - What else could possible happen? She asked, “Can’t I just have some of those easy days where everything seems to flow?”
And, the answer is, right at this moment… evidently not. This is what’s happening right now for some of us and we just have to remember that these character-building days don’t last forever. They are just part of the cycle of life. So, we turn to our inner wisdom, our Higher Selves and ask for all that we need to navigate on through until we reach the calmness we know is there for us.
And, what we both decided to do when another character-building opportunity comes along is to remember that in the grand scheme of it all… this is but a tiny part and we’ll make it through. Yes, we will.
Besides, ease and grace are there for us, too.
How do you navigate the choppy waters? How do you keep the faith?
The past week has felt so heavy. Our hearts and our psyches have been hit once more by a senseless act that attempts to chip away at our innocence and peace. We wonder if we’ll ever feel safe again – if we’ll always be looking over our shoulder, suspecting someone, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Our world has changed.
But then, all we have to do is open our eyes and our hearts and we see that there is always more good than bad, more light than darkness, more joy out there for each of us if we just pay attention.
Just sitting at my desk now, I got out my gratitude journal and started making a list and this is what showed up on it – in no particular order of importance:
- Last night the Orioles won their 100th straight game when leading after the 7th inning [ok, I’m a little Birdland crazy]
- The beautiful Malala was on the cover of Time magazine last week – listed as one of the world’s 100 most influential people. We have not heard the last of this brave, young woman.
- I have a new road bike – a gift from my thoughtful hubby and the bike of my dreams that is ready to get all warmed up for a biking vacation this summer.
- It’s a bright, sunny day and from where I am sitting, I see a vibrant red cardinal at the birdbath on my patio. Green everything, daffodils, tulips and this beautiful bird. There is brightness in my world.
- The comforting words, prayers and love I received from friends, social media “friends”, and WomanTalk Live readers and listeners after my mom passed away.
- Finding a pair of black slacks that fit perfectly in every way and were on sale.
- Reading the congratulatory notes the 2013 Girl Gone Great, Brooke Burghardt, a senior at Mercy High School in Baltimore, received from Sisters of Mercy in England, Ireland and the U.S.
- Actually developing real relationships with people whom I’ve met on social media – taking the relationships one step further with phone calls, coffee or lunch and finding the “real” connection.
- Always incredible, interesting guests on the show and being amazed at the wonder and talent of people.
- Receiving notes from people who were at the Boston marathon – some who are having a hard time dealing with what they witnessed, others who had family members seriously wounded and are grateful that they have the opportunity to move forward together – that they still have each other.
- My hope, my faith and the love I can always feel if THAT is where I focus.
- And one of my very favorite quotes from the amazing Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Fred’s mom was right. The helpers are always there. And, the good is, too. All we have to do is look for them.
What are you doing to keep your own light shining?
Three weeks after my mom’s passing, we all gathered for her memorial service. Some of the initial sting of her leaving us had passed and now was the time to honor her, celebrate her and share out thoughts about her.
We made a conscious decision to celebrate her – the things we loved about her and the things she did that made us laugh. There were lots of those. And, when we shared them with all of the people who came to celebrate her life with us, they laughed, too. And, it seemed that the more we talked, the more funny memories bubbled to the surface. Here were some of mine:
- My mom taught my sister and me the importance of having shiny hair. We endured many a vinegar rinse after a shampoo to get all of the soap out and to make our hair glisten. Every Sunday at church, there was an old man that owned the local Buick dealership in our small town and he would tell our mom, “Your little girls have the shiniest hair of any little girls in our town.” Obviously, that was something to be proud of and we hit a homerun every Sunday with our shiny hair.
- My mother would have loved Spanx and all that it does. Even when I weighed 98 pounds, she let me know how important it was to wear a panty girdle so I wouldn’t “jiggle” too much. It’s important to note that this was the time when the Playtex 18-hour girdle had lots of advertising going on, so I guess I was lucky only to have to endure a panty girdle, even if I couldn’t have jiggled if I tried. Years later, in the mid-90’s, my mother and my niece, who didn’t weight any more than 98 pounds, were up for a visit. For some reason, we ended up in a lingerie shop and my mom started selling the virtues of the panty girdle to my niece, who didn’t buy into it.
I also wanted to acknowledge my mother for so many things:
- For showing me that a woman could work outside the home and raise a family
- For making sure I had so many things I needed from clothes, good food, piano lessons and a good education
- For saving me when I had my first big dinner party after I moved to Houston after college by sending me a Virginia Smithfield ham and her famous macaroni and cheese recipe – which was a big hit.
- For helping me plant over 800 tulip and daffodil bulbs the first year Bob and I were in our home, and for asking each spring, “Did the daffodils com up?”
- And, most of all, for being our mom – for loving us, for being proud of us because we were “her girls.”
A friend of mine sent me a lovely kaddish prayer after my mother passed. In the event you aren’t familiar with what that is, my friend explained that in the Jewish religion, “it is said for a deceased loved one as an act of loving kindness toward the departed’s soul enabling that soul to ascend to the Higher realms.” Even though we aren’t Jewish, the prayer was so lovely and I found it was the perfect thing to say for my mom at her service:
The Consolations of Memory
You are remembered in love.
You are part of the now in me.
All the good,
All the love,
All the comfort a person can give
For your sake.
Peace abide you.
- by Gerald Dicker -
Physically, she is gone. In my heart, she’ll always be.
And, yes, the daffodils did come back this year.