Today I am aware of lessons that are to be learned. Some I am learning today, even as I write. Some have been saved deep in my brain. Others are on the cusp of my awareness.
It’s been just over five weeks since my mother passed away, and one thing I have learned from this is that awareness is cracked wide open. Pages of my life have flashed before me from when I was a young child to today, when I am so much older. Some days I feel as old as my mother was when she died, and that would be 95 ½.
But today I feel only my real age, and the constant mirage of photos and vivid scenes from my life that have been cascading through my mind for weeks has finally come to an end. Now I occasionally see photos of my mother when she was young, vibrant and beautiful, a sweet young mom to the six year old myself at the time. I thought there was no woman more beautiful in the world. I remember sitting on the sofa listening to my mother play Silent Night on the piano and singing in the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard, all the time marveling at the talent she possessed by keeping a small vine alive in a glass vase on the coffee table in front of me. I would have never done anything to spill the water out of that vase. If you asked me at the time I am sure I would have told you without blinking an eye that the water in that vase was sacred because my mother had put it there.
My struggle as my mother became older, then older yet, and then older still, is that she never really knew how much I loved her. But I know now, without a doubt, that I did the best that I could People tell me often how amazed they are at the care I gave to my mother, but I always thought I could do more, should do more. And even then my efforts were often rejected. It hurt to know how little my mother was willing to accept from me, or anyone else for that matter. An independent spirit, friends told me. Stubborn, I thought. A martyr, said others. And what’s the real truth? We’ll never know.
What I do know, and what I have learned from this grief process is that we all grieve differently, just as we all love differently. I loved 100%. I am grieving 100%. When friends ask, “How are you doing?” I can only say, “I’m doing the best I can,” and it’s true. What I am doing for myself now is listening. I am listening to friends, to grief counselors, to family, and I am listening to the rain. It’s soothing in a way that words often fail. I look outside on this cold March day and know the rain is bringing forth new life in the yard, new plants for me to transplant and putter with this summer, and hopefully glorious sunshine will follow.
I am learning from this period of grief that sunshine will prevail in my memory as well, very soon, but the tears will always be welcomed, just as the rain is always welcomed by the plants in my back yard. Day in and day out, I am learning lessons I never even knew existed, and certainly never knew I still had so many to learn. As these lessons become a part of my new awareness now, I realize they are all blessings, and I will never forget how they have come to me. These lessons come from the heart, and for that I am thankful.