Grateful to Grieve

I’m thinking of my mother.  I feel so much.  It’s hard to hold so many feelings.  So much gratitude.  So much sense of loss.  Such profound feelings of connection yet separation.  In my hardest times, it was always the thought of my mother that kept me attached to Life.  No, I don’t worship her!  Although, when I was very young, without thinking about it, I adored her.  I’m sure she was my first love.  I sometimes think of my childhood best-friend as my first love because she was my first heart-break (parting from her when my family moved to Puerto Rico).  However, when I think of my earliest memories from age three, when I call up remembered images and feelings, I know I was “in love with” my mother, meaning: I had a healthy, happy, strong attachment to her.

Sometimes people talk about my mother as a non-cuddly mother or some other kind of phrase that attempts to describe her reserve which some experienced as a kind of coolness.  However, while I have struggled with some aspects of my relationship w/ my mother, her reserve was not one of those things.  It has confused me at times because while certainly there were times when I needed surer, more ready, intimacy with her which she didn’t provide, her actual way of being reserved suited me quite well.  I am naturally reserved too.  I’m sure it’s in my DNA, and not just learned from her, or a response/reaction to some other environmental influences.

I like being reserved.  I like me as an “introvert.”  I like myself while alone.  I like solitude.  I can experience greater loneliness with some other people than when alone.  What has confused me in the past regarding my relationship with my mother has had to do with the ways I needed her as a teenager and she didn’t notice.  But it’s also true that she sometimes noticed and didn’t know how to reach me.  It’s also true she was confused.  And all the ways she provided for me, taught me, empowered me, and was indeed “there for me” at some critical times, all those ways and times and gifts are so abundant that I feel only over-whelming gratitude for her, her life, her mothering, her friendship.

The other feelings that I contend with in my grieving process are forms of pain and sorrow for the pain she suffered throughout her life and especially when dying.  When I think of her physical pain at the end, my stomach gets tied up in knots.  Even now as I write this paragraph my gut cramps and hurts.  But, what’s new today is that I can endure thinking about all that long enough to write about it.

I’m finally far enough along in my grief (/healing?/acceptance?) that I can grieve with feelings and tears and not clench off my heart.  Yesterday I saw a movie that involved someone dying.  The way the movie ended was cathartic for me.  I “bawled like a baby.”  I was able to let myself cry with my whole body and with tears.  It felt so cleansing and nourishing at the same time.  It felt like I was being and holding my real self.

I contend with dry eye.  It had been getting worse for over a year until a couple of months ago I started lubricant/gel eye drops that were effective.  So now I have tears again.  And I’m glad to be able to use them!  It sounds strange in words to say that I’m glad to grieve, I’m glad to cry, but I’m sure anyone who has been through this will know how much sense that makes.

While I write this I’m listening to Tuck & Patti’s album “A Gift of Love.”  It’s a great album in every way.  It accompanies me perfectly now while I think of my mother.

God bless Almeda with the fullness of Love, Joy, Peace, Freedom, forever.

Oh, Abba-Papa-Lord, I love my mother!  Thank You for her!  Bless all of her with all of You!

Longing To Long For Something

person sky silhouette night
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Is there something I long to do?  What would I like to try if I only needed to try it?

I am currently depressed. I am currently in a long “dark night.”  I know the deep, deep love of Jesus.  I had a nearly idyllic childhood.  I experienced years of sexual abuse, but even during that time, I experienced many blessings in other parts of my life.  I had the great gift of wonderful parents.  I enjoyed a marvelous and extensive education. I’ve traveled.  I’ve known the profound joy of serving others in a variety of ways.  I love my family and I know I am loved by them.  I have had some lovely and nourishing relationships with some great mentors.  I could continue on with my list of how I have lived a full life.

But that’s part of my current struggle.  Already at 40, I had felt I had lived a glorious life and it would be okay with me if I left this earth for Heaven asap.  Then around age 45 or 47 (depending on how I would define this chapter of my life), I started experiencing death and loss.  I had experienced abuse, hardship, loss, the death of loved-ones, sorrow, heartbreak, etc. throughout my life prior to middle-age, but in my mid-forties, I began to experience perimenopause and a series of many losses, an onslaught of losses actually.  That season of loss has continued until age 57.  I once listed for myself all my losses.  There were over 40.  I quit counting.  That’s on an average one loss every three months.  My heart just can’t keep up with that pace of suffering.  I’m just not cut out for that.

And yet, it would seem I really am.  I’m still here.  My heart still breaks.  I’m not entirely numb.  I feel the sorrows of others.  I hurt for the world’s injustices.  Meanwhile, I am fairly numb to my own heart, my own soul, my own sense of self.  I just don’t WANT to feel anymore.  I want a break from grief. I want a break from the awareness that surely there will always be more (and more and more?) loss, for the rest of my life.  Until I die.

And yet, I can’t manage to appreciate much light relief.  I long for meaning.  I always have.  I always will.  That’s the warp and woof of my being: to seek meaning.

But here’s the thing: I’ve mostly found it.  I’ve mostly known and embraced the meaning of life: love.  Love God, love self, love others, love being.  Being.  That’s the main thing.  Accept being, breathe, and when fitting, give and receive love.  (For me “Love” = Wholeness, Truth, Beauty, Communion-with-God-which-enables-and-empowers-me-to-love-self-and-others.)

How dare I say I’ve found “the” meaning of life?  Like there’s only one?  Well, for me, I’ve found that while life is complex and full of wondrous variety and surprisingly co-existent contradictions and paradox, the meaning of life is very simple: Be.  Like James Taylor sang: “the meaning of life is enjoying the ride.”

Being is Good.

That’s my Credo.

But there’s SO much freedom in that.  And given that I’ve already explored many challenges, met many goals, contributed good in the world; given that I’ve already justified my existence (if that’s necessary), I now need to choose to keep going, to keep being, to keep doing something creative with this time-space-energy I’ve been given.

And I don’t know what’s really worth doing.

Besides loving.

What Being (and even Loving) currently boils down to for me is this: I have the time and  opportunity to do lots of ordinary little things, (lots of things that pretty much bore me!):

  • sort the clutter in my house
  • organize whatever I decide to keep
  • clean house
  • do daily dishes
  • exercise
  • continue to relate with my current context
  • fix broken stuff around the house
  • Et Cetera

Most of my adult life I have had the luxury of being able to justify spending most of my time teaching, practicing, performing, doing church/ music ministry, i.e. using my gifts in lots of great ways, but none of them domestic!  I haven’t cultivated domestic skills in myself.  I haven’t developed an appreciation for doing the daily tasks that are just so very daily.

Someone asked me recently if there is something I long to do.  It’s such a gracious question.  It’s so lovely to be invited to dream.  Truth is, I really feel most of my dreams have been fulfilled and the rest have dried up.  It’s hard to dream forward when I’m overwhelmed with grief.  Also, my tender little thread of Longing-to-Long-for-something-worthwhile secretly just wants to write.  I just want to think about my experiences and write about them.  But it’s hard for me to see sufficient purposefulness in this because it would really be “just” for me.

It’s also difficult for me to write.  I thought it would help me process my grief, which in some ways it does, but it also makes some wounds fresh again.  It takes more energy than I thought it would to remember, process, and work to heal more deeply.

That’s really the point: to heal more deeply.

Yes, there is something I long to do.

I long to become whole.

I think some older, wiser souls might tell me I’m only now ready to embrace “the meaning of life;” I’m only now ready to live.  When one is ready to live, just for the sake of living, that’s when your authentic life begins.  At least, I’ve heard that idea celebrated by some I admire.  But my Life-View is such that Everything Belongs, everything contributes to what Is.  So, I’m sure I’ve never “arrived;” I don’t have or expect to have any great epiphany that others don’t also have…

Today, my growth is simply my willingness to admit all this, freely, possibly to others, that is – if anyone is reading this.

PS – I started this post nine months ago.  It took me nine months to admit the only thing I really long to do is to become whole.  I guess that’s okay.