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loss and love

by Judy
August 2, 2015

It’s been a little more than a month since my mom died. For a while there has been a well of tears just below the surface of my being – always ready to gush out – but more recently that has more or less subsided. It really is an ever changing kaleidoscope. I never know what will arise in consciousness at any moment – memories, images, sadness, reflections…sometimes even joy.

One thing that struck me after my mom died: She really was reviewing her life over the past few years. She was lying in bed so much and had a lot of time to think…to dream…to listen. Often when I thought she was sleeping, she wasn’t but was involved in her own world. Over the course of at least the last two years, she would return to some things that were bothering her from the past: some of it was to do with what she had done that she felt bad about; some to do with what others did; and some of it seemed almost a fantasy – conversations she felt she had had but I don’t recall them happening.

It was like her conscience was being pricked and over time, much of what bothered her – and it wasn't that much – seemed to eventually dissipate.

And since my mom died, I also have been doing inadvertently a kind of review. Yes, I know for many who know me, it seemed like I gave so much to my mom and that I would have no regrets. And yet still regrets have come up – nothing that will probably deeply disturb me over time, but still are painful to reflect upon. Could I have sat with my mom more? Yes. Could I have empathized with her more? Yes. I tried to relieve her discomfort in every way I could, and still in retrospect, I could have done more.

I also think about all the losses my mom lived through: husband, son, mother, father, sister, brothers and friends. I feel I wasn’t totally there for her, for all her losses, in a way I would be now. To some degree I think it was a result of how resilient and independent my mom was – she seemed to cope so well and did not ask for much. It was also my own lack of awareness and sensitivity that no doubt was partly the result of youth. I think as we get older and experience more loss ourselves, then we have a different perspective, more empathy.

It is a little more than a month and already I can feel a shift in myself. I went up north recently for a long weekend and was immersed with many people which both highlighted my grief and at the same time, in retrospect, moved me through it as well. How can that be? The power of communion and the power of aloneness both at the same time. I have felt lighter since then.

And now I continue dealing with all the practicalities after someone dies, but there is less of that emotionality – less of that gut-wrenching missing – still sad at times, still miss her a lot, but less of it coloring my perceptions on the present and future.

I find more and more that I feel my mother is with me – sometimes it’s literally experienced as the memory of her; what she would have liked, what she would have done and her generous spirit and sometimes I experience it as a sense of love and a sense she is with me, even looking after me and guiding me. She is not far away. I remember a line from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar where Marc Anthony says, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones…,” Well it’s the reverse in the case of my mom. The good lives after her and what was not so good is interred…buried…not alive anymore. It is that goodness that remains with me.

A calm is settling in me. This is a new “chapter” in my life. I have little idea of how it is going to look, but it will certainly be different from how my life has been; both when I was with my mom and from before taking care of her. It all remains to unfold. Right now it is a time to grieve, reflect, take care of business, and be very grateful that I am alive with an acute awareness of the brevity of life.

 

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