It’s 8 years since my Mother passed. As usual, I walked on a beach she loved, this time with my husband, Peter, and our good good friends, Amir & Bonnie. The night before, Amir’s uncle had passed in his sleep after a fine long life. He was not destroyed by this loss, as I was not destroyed by the loss of my Mother. Still, our losses were with us as we walked, me dropping a trail of little blue statice. The flowers weren’t really doing it for me this year and I was worried that the wonder I have always felt walking the beach on this anniversary was fading with the years. I found a heart rock and put it in a crevice of the big rock that I festooned with flowers last year, but that too seemed like a let down.
A few months ago, a thing came through on Facebook that I thought I would put up in honor of this anniversary. It was written by a very old man who likened grief to being shipwrecked on high seas – how at first you’re clinging to some scrap of wreckage as 50 foot waves crash down on you; how this storm calms with time but returns full force at the slightest memory throughout your life; how eventually you’re grateful for the grief storms because they are testament to all your loves.
I’m going to put a link to this below, because I think might be helpful for anyone who’s experiencing hard grief this way. But reading it over, I realized that it’s not how I have experienced the loss of my Mother. It’s what I wish I’d experienced because she was an amazing woman and an amazing Mother and she deserves my insatiable, wailing, grief. But if I’m honest I have to say that the overwhelming thing I felt when she passed was relief because she was so weak and miserable. I have to admit I was afraid she would use her huge will (that had so generously benefited me and all of us in her family) to hang on forever to the last shreds of her painful, waning life. And yes, I was worried about money. I have felt very guilty for feeling these things. I don’t feel comfortable admitting them here. My mother was a beloved woman and people were falling completely apart at her funeral. I wanted to do that too, but I just didn’t have it in me.
I think I’ve been comparing myself to the way she reacted when her own Mother died, suddenly, in a car crash. I remember that when the sheriffs drove up to our house, before they even got out of their car, my Mom knew – the wail out of her, as if she’d been scalded. For months she was desolate. And then one afternoon, she had just put rice on to boil for dinner, and she went into the den and lay down. She said she felt arms coming around her. “It’s Ok, Anna,” her mother’s voice said; it was very sure. And my Mother immediately knew that it was right for her to go on with her life, to seek joy again. She knew her Mother would not have wanted her to stay shipwrecked in the high seas of grief. If I think about it, I know that she would say the same thing to me that her Mother said to her. That is, if I had fallen apart when she died. But of course I didn’t so she didn’t have to.
The thing I do feel, keenly, is the many things I have wanted to say to her during these eight years she’s been gone. Things I’ve wanted to take pictures of and text to her, but there’s no wifi where she is. Like right now, I’d give the world to know if she feels bad that I did not fall apart at her funeral. The minute I write this, I know the answer. She would never have wanted me to feel the pain and suffering she felt for her Mom. Come to think of it, she would probably remind me that her mother died at 60, in perfect health, not at 93, bedridden, hurting, and losing it in every possible way. And then, I think she would intuit that I’m afraid my lack of falling apart for her makes me feel like an empty-hearted bitch with no feelings. She says that’s not true, that if anything happened to my daughters or husband, the ones, vibrant, like her mother had been, that I would fall completely apart. She hopes that never happens, she hopes I get to live long like she did and die leaving vibrant children raised and well on their way. But what about Peter, I want to ask her? You will fall apart if he passes before you do, she says. And you have some very close friends, you’ll fall apart for them too. I know she’s right about all that, It is such a relief. And then, she chuckles, kindly, like she did, “You always take things so seriously, Randee. Don’t worry, there will be enough grief in your life. There will be plenty of time for falling apart. ” These words are so like her, I can just see her saying this with a patient smile and a small, adoring, impatient sigh.
My favorite thing about writing is how sometimes you come to know things by the end of a paragraph that you didn’t know when you started. That’s what just happened here, in that paragraph I just wrote. I have tried to talk to my Mother many times since she passed, but it was always small talk, catching her up on the kids, thanking her for the inexorable gifts of my education. She’s had nothing to say to all that. Like all good listeners, she liked questions. And so when I asked the question – how she felt about me not falling apart, it seems, she spoke right up.
Here, at 8 years, I am discovering the wifi to my Mom. And it just got better. I went back to the beach to take a picture of the heart rock I had put in the crevice for her; of course it was washed away. But another rock was close by, a much bigger one, jammed in tight by giant waves of a recent storm. It was lodged on its side and took some imagination to see it as a heart rock in this position. It had all the right lines, still, you could miss it if you weren’t really looking… But when I flipped it in my phone,
I have always had the highest standards for what constitutes an acceptable heart rock. A thing can look like a heart rock, but then you pull it out of the sand and it’s just not up to snuff. Or you flip it over and it’s clearly not a heart from both sides. Other rules for heart rocks include, No Shells:
No Close-But-No-Cigar Hearts Made in the Sand by Receding Tide-lets:
It was like the whole beach was lit up with hearts from my Mom to me. Neuroscientists say that imagination blossoms as we age. Carl Jung said that old age must serve some evolutionary purpose.
What if part of that purpose is to let us let go of crazy rules so we can perceive our departed loved ones telling us stuff we need to hear – Like these wise words of knowing forgiveness my Mother said to me – I sure needed to hear that, I’m a better specimen of my species for hearing it.
Am i just making this up? I know I’ll think so in a few days when the giddiness of this experience fades.
But then I remember a Ram Dass webinar I watched a few weeks ago. It’s called “Relaxing Into Aging,” I’ll put the link below, it’s free. I had not seen him since he was in his 40’s, but he said the same things about aging that he said back then. He talked about how old age curtails your senses and ability to move around which makes it easier to turn inward (as in meditation.) He chided his 65 year old self for writing a cocky book called, “Still Here” because it was written before the shit (of aging) hit the fan. But here he was, 85 years old and two years after suffering a major stroke, giving a computer lecture on a Saturday morning. He sure looked like a guy who had suffered a stroke, slow to answer, some words slurred, easy to tire. But he, being Ram Dass, is still capable of the most glorious smile.
He told us that he still talks with his guru, Maharajji, several times a day, though Maharajji died years ago. He shared a recent conversation he’d had about this with a highly intellectual friend:
Intellectual Friend – So, you still speak to Maharajji?
Ram Dass (smile) – Yes
Intellectual Friend – And he speaks to you?
Ram Dass (smile) – Yes
Intellectual Friend – Well that’s ridiculous, you’re just speaking to him in your imagination!
Ram Dass breaks into his radiant smile – Yessss
I would love to hear from you about this. Do you have communication with loved ones who have passed? Do you think it’s possible? Please tell me. And if you know anyone else who’d like to weigh in on the subject, please pass this along. Godspeed!
Click here to see the Ram Dass video, Relaxing into Aging at the Shift Network – https://support.theshiftnetwork.com/…/115004019088-Relaxing-Into-Aging-with-Ra…
Click here to read the post about grief that feels like a shipwreck from Reddit – https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1wzcaj/serious_how_do_you_cope_with_the_passing_of/cf6s51b/
Originally posted 2017-04-12 18:09:19.