I had to dig deep this week. So bloody deep this week. For patience. For strength. For resources. …and it was my little people who held me with their warm apple pie, fresh out of the oven, as I put my feet up after having held a sacred space for friends who lost their mother and had to bury her within 24 hours, in keeping with Islamic protocol. Apple pie, warm apple pie and my people saved me on Monday.
I had to dig deep this week. So bloody deep this week. For restraint For compassion. For calm. As I witnessed one human being abuse their power over another …and again, it was my people that brought me back, reminding me that my dear Aunt who passed on (a few months back) had her birthday this week and how she made the world’s meanest chicken pie. So, I made a chicken pie, said the rosary and we celebrated her life, with cake and all!
I had to dig deep this week. So bloody deep this week. To accept the many many wonderful doors of opportunity flying open in my face; To find the words to acknowledge the phenomenal teacher my son got as a gift for his Grade 1 year on World Teachers Day; To salute my daughter for standing up for a friend who was in trouble at school; To contain the love in my heart for the beautiful bottle of red wine my husband came bearing.
…But here I am this Friday, having just heard of the passing of one of my best friend’s dads.
And, so I dig deep again, to find that well of love inside me. It’s hard at first… But sure enough it springs up! Springs up! Springs up! Offering glimpses of light.
Don’t you love that!? That we are able to receive the gift of LIGHT when we need it most? Do you have a name for that which is always available, which is infinite, which is always accessible?
I’m just so grateful and I wish you that and so much more, my friends!
My mom’s sister who died quite suddenly. It was the first week of lockdown in South Africa when she passed.
We got news of her death around 9am and all we wanted to do was rush to the family home to be with her children and her 80 something year old husband, from who she really was inseperable. They were married for 60 years or so.
I was so sad but I could park that. All I really wanted was to see my loved ones and offer support. I remember when my own mom passed, those people who just turned up on the day and DID were a Godsend. I felt I could be that kind of person in this instance.
Being the absolute nerd that I am, I managed to convince my husband that we should pop into our local police station to ask them what we needed in terms of permission in order to make our way to the family home on the otherrrrrrr side of the world. We had seen visuals on TV and social media of the army, of cyclists being arrested and I must be honest, the general air of fear and tension was palpable.
“Good Morning” I said through my mask to the two policemen at the door. They were tense too, but they listened to my story and immediately decided that yes, I should definitely jump on the highway and make my way to the bereaved. “Family” the one guy said “Family”.
“So, I dont need a permit or anything to go there for a prayer service or for the funeral?…” I tried to add, knowing that my Catholic family would want to get started on the prayer asap, particularly for a woman like my aunty who loved her faith.
Screeeeeching from the other side of a room I did not even see someone flying towards us.
“Back home!” she spat. “What do you think this is? A party? Do you know what lockdown means? There is no travelling! No partying. No walking around and shopping….”
Everyone was stunned by the absurdity of the statements.
The two policemen looked down. I thought I was dreaming.
“Umm, no mam, I have just lost my aunt…literally a few hours ago and I am her next of kin, so I was asking about what I needed to…”
“I don’t care!” she said “No means no”
“L O C K D O W NNNNNNNN she said mockingly. “It means you go noooooooowhere, my dear”.
Now my tears were beginning to come. The floodgates really opened when I made eye contact with the two policeman. They were looking down and shaking their heads. I only realised then that they reported to her. She was their boss and they were not going to be able to do anything for me.
I was sobbing. I could not believe that another human being was speaking to me like that. In a room full of other people. When I had just been shot in the heart with grief.
My husband, who had said nothing up to this point had the look. I know it well. Gentle Giant was giving her the who the fck do you think you are talking to look, narrowing his eyes and tilting his head slightly. That look only comes out once every like 12 years.
“Umm, tell me something…” he said, towering at least 100m above her head. “Did you hear the part where my wife said she had just lost her mother?” (In his culture, my aunt WAS my mother. No lies there).
“I don’t care what story she has” the woman said.
“Ummm sorry, mam? We are just here to …”
“Wait, love” he said. It was a firm and gentle, but gosh it was full of conviction.
My husband looked at the two men. Heads bowed in shame. He looked at me. Put his hands on his hips.
There was a long silence.
“Are you feeling okay?” My husband said, looking the woman directly in the eye.
Two more officers arrived. The air changed from an emotional one to something that my intuition told me could easily escalate into something ugly, where we were perhaps thrown in a holding cell and handcuffed, or worse.
That’s when one of the two officers became human again and said to my husband “I think it’s better if you guys go, my brother…”
He didn’t mean that we should GO to the highway and GO to the funeral home and GO be with our loved ones (which is just what we did, masks and all). He was firing a warning shot to us, to say that if we did not get out of there, there would be trouble. I took my husband by the hand and pulled hard.
Heartbroken, disgusted and defeated we arrived at the funeral home. That’s when something magical happened. As I entered, I felt this incredible Light. I walked into the funeral home filled with a Spirit of compassion, love, strength, empathy and support.
That strength did not come from ME, and that’s really what this long story is about.
Friends tell me that strength is The Peace that Passes All Understanding. In my culture, the Holy Spirit. In yours, your Higher Self/God, perhaps?
Trust me it will come when you need it leaving you, the spiritual being here on earth to have a human experience, in awe. And, in my case filled with so much GRATITUDE.
These are the moments, friends. These are the moments!
All this talk about Mother’s Day has me feeling anxious, I must admit. My heart-wound has only just begun to form a scab and I have been taking good care of it.
My approach to its healing has been quite simple, actually. Like a good mother, I have looked primarily at INFECTION PREVENTION.
For starters, I took a conscious decision that I needed to keep the environment sterile and germ free. And while I am under no illusiions that one cannot engineer every social environment or interpersonal encounter completely (particularly with family), I knew that it was indeed possible to focus on “access control”. So, I did. Quite intuitively, I have been terribly circumspect about who I engage with, what I share, and how I could avoid people with energies that felt harsh to my sensitive film. The daily “disinfectant” through meditation and “fresh dressing” through prayer have helped tremendously.
Secondly, I focused my attention on creating a HEALING ENVIRONMENT for the heart-wound. Once more, led purely by my instinct, I began to draw on my good memories of my mother and to allow that positive energy to flow into my home, into my work and into my relationship with my own children. I have also played, laugh, rationed screen time and increased my reading time. I began to seek out real experiences, people, food and music that made me smile. And sure enough, the smiles came.
I am, of course, always mindful that with this sort of wound, research tells us that there is no prescribed time frame for healing completely. In fact, research tells us that there isn’t really a “cure” at all. Like diabetes perhaps, one simply learns to “manage” the beast and one learns to adapt one’s lifestyle in order to lead a productive life.
So, adapting I am.
And it would seem that the wound is indeed closing up.
And the scab will fall off.
And all that will remain is the scar.
How I will relate to the scar, is of course another story entirely, but I will tell you this honestly: there IS always light at the end of the proverbial tunnel after a loss. Yes, even when you think your entire world has gone black forever.
You will one day be able to reflect on your scar and know for sure that every single day is a GIFT. (After all, no scar is able to form on that which is not alive). And like me, you will also be able to CELEBRATE not only on Mothers Day, but every single day that you are alive.
Aluta continua, as they say. May you never take a day for granted.