My soul feels heavy today, bogged down in snippets of old conversations, black and white moments frozen in time, and jumpy and choppy childhood memories playing on 8mm film reels in the recesses of my mind. My brain flashes from memory to memory as if it’s searching its files to see if any data has been lost in the time that has elapsed. One memory brings a smile, maybe even laughter, and an overwhelming sense of peace. Another brings tears streaming down my cheeks and that feeling of a hand thrusting through my chest to grab hold of my heart and soul, stopping my breath and choking me on a sob of remembrance. “No, no, no,” some voice echoes in my head when the pain gets too raw, too near. Is it her voice? Is it mine?
I have only two choices.
Give into it, crumble like a fallen tower and lay in a heap all day, not moving, not speaking, just crying and wallowing in the pain of her loss, crying out into the quiet of my home, where my cats aren’t sure if they should sidle up to comfort me or race to the dark protection of under a bed. I could rage against it until my eyes are swollen from too many tears, my nose feels like cotton has been jammed into it, and my voice is non-existent from soul-wrenching sobs. Oh what a pretty site that will make for the meeting I must attend tonight!
Or I could do what she would have wanted me to do. Walk on. Leave it behind. Let it be. Let it be part of me and what makes me stronger, never forgetting her, never forgetting what she would have wanted for me, never forgetting the gifts she gave me, right up to the very end. Do the things she would have wanted me to do to today. Take care of business as usual. Continue being a source of strength, comfort and love for my family. Get my hands good and dirty in the garden. Read a few pages of a cherished book. Whip up a great meal for my husband and son when they return from their day. Keep on writing that book of mine, “The Lessons of Walks Far Woman”, which was a gift from her to me. Stop and smell the sweet blooming lilacs, her favorite, out in my yard. Let all that she ever gave me and taught me permeate everything I do today and in the days to come. Honor her and the memory of her life.
Today it is 9 years since my mother passed through the veil into the Summerland. The memory of that final fateful day, every single painful detail of it, tends to replay itself over and over again every April 17th. I am trying with every ounce of my being to push that day from my mind to replace it with all of her lessons, all of her laughter, all of the nature walks, all of the love. In her honor, I have cut a few lilac blooms and placed them on my altar with a handmade ghostly gray candle, a Goddess candle, infused with herbs of remembrance and respect, to symbolize all of the Goddesses in her. I spent the morning transplanting seedlings and milling about the garden which she would have loved so much. If she were here, I know she would have popped in for a visit just to sit in the garden with me, sipping coffee and talking the afternoon away with me. I plan on heading back out to the garden this afternoon, book and laptop in hand, to read a bit and write a bit, even if it’s just a few paragraphs. Maybe she’ll be sitting in the other chair, watching, listening, talking, and just being nearby. Just maybe.
Does it get easier? Does the pain of such loss lessen? No. Everyone said it would, but it does not. What it actually does is it becomes part of you, wraps itself up in your memory, your heart, your soul, your entire being, and makes you a different person. Some people choose to open the wounds over and over again, unable to move on, unable to leave it behind, unable to function, creating greater pain for themselves and for their family and friends. Others choose to feel it but keep moving, to continue living life to its very fullest, to let it transform them and those around them. I have tried to be the person who lets the pain wash over me again and again. I don’t wear that well. “No, no, no,” that voice says to me. I just can’t do it. The pain comes in little waves but, with each surge, I wipe my tears away and walk on. Why? Because it’s what she would have wanted me to do. It is what she taught me to do. It is what she herself did.
I often think I hear her, feel her close by. Sometimes it’s just a whisper of a few words. Sometimes it’s a wisp of shadow or mist passing through. Sometimes it’s the gentle press of a hand on my arm. Sometimes she sends me little Universal messages. She did so today. The phone, cable and internet went out yesterday afternoon because of a major problem with the fiber optics line at the company. I went to bed thinking that I would be able to get up early this morning to get business out of the way. I wanted the rest of the day to do things to honor my mom. When I awoke this morning, there was still no service. I was distraught over the fact that I would not be able to post a blog today, April 17th. I went about some gardening and kept checking to see if things were back on. At , the modem jumped to life. I noted the time because I was standing right there looking at the modem. I wrote the time down because the company is promising credits to everyone affected by the outage. As soon as I wrote the time down, it dawned on me that 1009 is the number of the house I grew up in with my mom. Universal message from Joanie!
The message is that Joanie still loves me, still supports me, still cares about me. She is somewhere on another plane of existence cheering me on, giving me that forward shove when I start to falter. She is proud of me, who I have become and the paths I have chosen. She is in me, in everything that I am, everything I say, everything I do, and everything I pass on to others. She is there in my son’s big dark brown eyes and his love of nature. She is there in my husband’s heart and memory. She is there in the faces of my sisters. She is there in the stories of every family member and comes back to life with each telling. She is there in my garden, in my book shelves, in my kitchen, and in the words I write. She is never really gone, always nearby in some way, shape and form.