Balm for the Soul

Standing there in an

impossible breeze.  Silk flutters,

against moonlit skin.

Being a mother to my little monkey makes me think about my own mother.  I think about her all the time, anyway.  Every day I wish she was still here to answer my questions, discuss parenting, give me gardening tips and tell me I’m doing a good job.

For a long time, I’ve carried the grief of both my mother and myself.  I carried my own grief of losing her, of feeling alone and thrown so violently from the world of childhood. Through the years, I have also carried her grief with me. I’ve felt a strong sense of guilt and sadness, for her, knowing she would leave me all too soon, that she would be unable to finish raising me, that she would not see the woman I would become, and, for me, that there was nothing I could do to change it.

Now, as a mother myself, I also understand everything else that she felt in those years between finding out she was pregnant and saying goodbye. I understand the wonderment and excitement she must have felt at being pregnant with me, watching her body grow and change, the inner knowledge of her own strength as she learned what her body was capable of and the raw amazement of birthing me, naturally, into the world surrounded by her friends and loved ones.   I know the exhaustion she felt in those first few weeks as well as the utter contentment that filled her as she held me in her arms and studied my tiny face. I’ve felt the same excitement she must have experienced as I’ve watched Casey hit all those first milestones. I know the utter disbelief and joy she must have felt when I smiled at her and began to crawl and stood up for the fist time. The surprise that I sometimes feel, at my ability to love and give myself to another human being so completely and unselfconsciously, cannot be a feeling unique to me. I know that she must have felt this too.

Becoming a mother was a healing balm for my soul.  For the first time in years, I was able to see myself as whole, accept myself for the woman I am.  I was able to forgive myself for my faults and compassionately reach out to the small, scared child inside of me to gently reassure her that she was worthy.  Being a mother myself has made it easier to finally let got of the extra weight of my mother’s grief.  I know that while she existed on this earth as my mother, she was happy.

When my mother first died, I refused to sleep in my own room.  For a long while, I made myself a pallet in her sewing room and simply slept on the floor.  I found comfort amidst her folded fabrics; the foot treadle under the sewing machine, touched by her foot a hundred thousand times.  Her essence was in that room and I wanted to hold onto it for as long as I could.  After I had moved back into my own bed, I woke up during the night and there she was.  She stood at the foot of my twin bed, lit in the diffused moonlight coming in from the window, set high in my wall.  She wore a sea green silk bathrobe that she had been fond of during life.  It fluttered around her in a breeze whose existence was impossible. That’s all I remember.  I don’t know if she said anything to me.  I don’t remember being scared; I just remember missing her terribly. I still miss her terribly and I imagine it will always be as if some small part of my soul is incomplete, unfinished.  To this day, there are moments when the pangs of my grief catch me unprepared and knock my to my knees.

Today, I remember the night I saw her at the end of my bed and I wonder if she simply wanted to take one last look- to look in one last time on her sleeping daughter.  There is something so sweet about watching our children sleep.  Maybe it’s the breath that you are finally able to release after a day of worrying and chasing them around.  Perhaps, it’s the pure innocence of their smooth, untroubled faces that heals a part of us.  They are so very pure.  I look at Casey when he sleeps and I long to know what he sees when he closes his eyes.  Whatever it is I know that it isn’t dark.  The quirks of his lips that pull his mouth into a momentary smile, the raised eyebrows and the deep sighs of peace, alert me to the lightness of his dreams.

I can’t place how long it was after she died, that I saw her.  I feel like it wasn’t too long after.  I wonder if she on her way to heaven?  Had she taken care of all her other unfinished business and wanted this one last chance to watch her daughter sleeping, before entering the gates of St. Peter?  Did she look back or hesitate at all as she entered their light?

I have more questions than answers and I suppose I always will, until I make that walk myself.  But now, I can find comfort in imagining the answers through the eyes of a mother, for I too am a mother and I too would choose to take one last look if it was offered.




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