on this beautiful day
my mother is remembered
This was written almost a year and a half ago, on the anniversary of my late husband’s birthday. I have decided to re-share some of these words again in my mother’s honor.
Knowing a person in life is one thing; coming to know them in death is another. Three and a half years ago my husband died, and two and a half years before that my mother, who lived with the two of us for nine years. In those years together we became a close knit family.
After she passed I much avoided facing the pain of my mother ‘s death only then to realize in Lewis’ passing so closely thereafter that my heart strings had been torn from their moorings and I was adrift and very alone.
I had not been acquainted with a deep grief like this ever before and I had much to learn about the process of mourning. For example, I have come to learn that our mutual life continues even in death and that the two of us actually continue to exist and evolve together in unanticipated ways. My knowing of Lewis–my wonder, gratitude and joy in our love for one another–has been kindled over and over again as I recall the many facets of his personality and uniqueness and turn the pages of our life together in my memory. I cannot help but believe there is some kind of mutuality to this ongoing process.
So, too, the memories of my mother have re-percolated in my mind. Scenes of my childhood, of our sometimes desperate, but mostly calm and wholesome life return to cheer me. With her there was sadness at her death, but little sadness at all in any of the memories I share of her. She was a cheerful and optimistic person, frank and unpretentiously warm, and while she suffered many burdens in her life, she did as much as she could to relieve me of mine.
Yesterday morning I dreamed of the both of them. It was a fragment from a time in our common life about nine years ago. My mother was living with us and in the dream Lewis and I were going about our usual morning activity, planning and sharing our thoughts to decide how we could best help my mother get through some challenges during some part of an ordinary day.
After waking slowly and centering my thoughts it seemed as if I had just opened a door and stepped into another room and they were still nearby. Somehow, it is comforting for me to know that these memories will always be this accessible to my heart: that I can see their faces and hear their voices and enjoy their company yet again. A painful jolt of grief was also felt when I realized how many years have now passed and gone. Fresh. Gone. All in the twinkle of time’s eye. Do you not think they may have come for a timely visitation? Perhaps. One cannot know for certain.
We had never had words, except for a couple of times in my childhood. There was little reason to discipline me, because I was generally spirited but definitely obedient. And she did not need to run a tight, tight ship and respected my personhood. She loved being with us daily and provided an amazingly secure environment for my brother and me even through the worst of life trials. She was a great lady.