I have begun this New Year with great moments of introspection and clarity on who I have been, how I have healed, and who I am becoming. I have filled my pockets with what I have learned, while creating an intention of being fully present and letting go of fixations on where I will land next.
I am designing a year filled with more pause and less fast forward.
2018 was a little bumpy, but a relief from what the year before had to offer. In 2018 I practiced squeezing moments of joy and loosening my grip on moments I could not control and did my best to lean in slightly at every curve, even if I felt off balance. It was the year that helped me understand that the way I do it, is simply my way, but is not the right or only way and may not work for others.
We must think for ourselves and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so as well. This new way of thinking altered my life.
Though after almost a year of heartbreaking reflections, I had a sinking feeling I needed a new perspective to realign my heart.
At first my mind swirled about, trying to figure out who could help me, but then I heard whispers from heaven tell me just who I needed to see. A woman who has amazed me and has created an unconditional space for love. A woman who has experienced tremendous loss, yet has managed to fill the gaping holes with strength, courage and love. A woman whose sweet voice has given me hope and inspiration on my darkest days of grief. A woman whom I refer to as mom, even though I am not one of the 6 children she brought into this world.
While we had traveled to Boston many times, we mostly stayed with my sister in-law, in hopes of seeing all family members in the area. This time, however, the intention was to create quality time at my in-laws home…a modest 3-bedroom home where they raised 6 children. I had a shiny new recorder in my bag, a racing heart and a yearning for answers. I did not know what I was looking for, but had 2 pages of questions and while the recorder did its’ work, I was going to simply listen and see what I could find.
Mom let Pop speak often for her, but I did not give up. I continued to ask and listen. I cleared my mind of all that I believed I knew and was open to what I didn’t know about sustainable love.
“We’ve known each other since we were 14 years old…married for 66 years,” Pop said boasting.
Their love astounded me as I watched them talk and laugh together, help each other remember names, recall happenings, and still want to sit together in front of the TV. It tickled me to see mom laugh about the things that annoyed her, and then walk into the kitchen singing along as she went, letting her irritations fall away as she sang.
“How do you do it?” I asked, praying for something new that I could hold onto. “Sixty-six years, a home, work, 6 children…how did you do it? Stay together…how?” I questioned looking deep into her eyes.
“She threatens to leave every month!” Pop interrupted laughing.
Aha! She has wanted to leave…I thought to myself. Now we are getting somewhere.
“What do you do after you say that?” I asked her, carefully moving closer.
”I go shopping,” she laughed. We all laughed. Shopping. Yeah, that solution might cost a few extra dollars, but that sure did seem like an easy solution!
But I needed more. Shopping was not the answer my mom sent me here for. I knew there had to be more.
“But mom…how? After all you have been through…how do you keep doing it day after day with a smile on your face and a song in your heart? How do you just keep going?”
”I don’t know,” she said at first. Then she paused….and I held my breathe.
“You gotta fight,” she said with her sweet Boston accent. “You just gotta fight. You gotta make a life worth fighting for…and then keep on fighting.”
I exhaled and hit the stop button. It was simple and perfect. I felt a sudden urge to cry, but didn’t. I had cried so many tears of joy and despair already and had finally learned to be still, allowing my heart to fill.
Slowly I sat back in my chair and could feel my mom smiling over me, thankful that someone could be her voice. It was just what I needed to begin 2019.
Me and my Mother-In-law
As I hugged her goodbye, knowing she had given me more than I could have imagined, she added one more thing.
“I love you. You’re the best. The best of the best.” I could hear words, feel her love and faith in me and somehow, my mom’s love passing right through her as well.
My Mom. Forever missed.
2019. More pause. Less fast forward. Will you join me?