Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Missing Donna on Mother's Day

I got a phone call early in the morning on Mother's Day, 2001, confirming that I was planning to come home that day. My Grandma Donna, battling lung cancer, wasn't doing well. I could tell from the sound of my dad's voice that it was worse than that. He's always the one who calls to give me bad news. We sped home but she died on the way there.

It's hard to celebrate a holiday when every symbol of that day reminds you of grief and loss. A lot of people understand this. But we can't stay there. We can't affix ourselves to that sadness. Letting go of grief, and moving on, back to love, is inevitable, or we're not living.

Maybe it's my age, maybe it's my recent brush with death and changed outlook on living, but it feels different now. The best way we can honor those we have loved and lost is by acknowledging those we love that are still with us.

Mother's Day was a blessing for me this year, because I am alive. Because I am alive to be with my own mother for longer. And because when selecting a Mother's Day card, they all made me think of my Grandma Donna, and I smiled. And remembered her laugh. And her good-natured, competitive card playing. And her summer gardens.

Because she died on Mother's Day, I think about her every year when the holiday rolls by (and loads of other times, too- she was something special). When I remember her, it brings her as close to my heart as possible. And I smile. And then the love I feel for those still with me expands.

That is not a bad thing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Alive Things You Love

When you're on the edge of this world, your heart will speak of kith and kin, and sing of the alive things you love. All the things you love. Parents, spouses, siblings, lovers, friends, children, pets... Yes, these things.

When you're on the edge of this world, you will learn you love the wild creatures that roam the forests and giants that swim the seas. The peppery scent of the marigolds and the day-long cycle of the morning glories, the creaking grok of the grackles and the warning bark of the seals, the gentle sway of the birch trees, the ferns unfurling in the front yard. You will dream of the healing caves beneath the weeping willows. You will fall in love with the sky above and the stone below, and you will count their children on your fingers, like sheep, as you burn.

At the edge of decay, my natural world became built of white walls and bleating machines, of yellow gowns and the smell of absence. I counted down to the end of the things I loved, pulling their energy into the room with me, a balm against isolation after the last frog was named...

The end never came.

At the finish of my list, gratitude and love expanded. There was more beyond the skin I had drawn and I pushed at the edge. Any heart that can feel infinite grief can also feel infinite joy. 

I fell in love with the way my finger bones curled into the muscle and tendon as I struggled to make a fist and release it again. I fell in love with the tiny atoms knitting themselves together to become cells in my body, to multiply, to spread out and become skin. 

Somewhere, in my solitude on the rehab floor, I fell in love with my new body, as it was, scars and all... and somewhere along the way, I finally fell in love with me.

When you're on the edge of this world, your heart will speak of kith and kin, of the alive things you love. When you return from the edge, you will walk with light, and the things that you love and touch will not remain unaltered.
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