My mama's birthday was yesterday, April 30th. It's hard to believe that she died over 22 years ago. I was utterly devastated when she died. My whole world turned upside. Grandmother lived to be 92 and I had always believed that the women in my family were meant to live long. Not mama.
At the same time, my then husband and I were trying to get pregnant. We’d been trying for several years by that point. Being a wife and mother were all I had ever imagined for myself. Another blow, or so it felt at the time. Something about being motherless and childless felt difficult to me.
I don’t know why mama’s death rocked me so. I don’t know why I fell completely apart. We hadn’t even lived in the same state for over a decade. I didn’t see her frequently though I did see her regularly. Holidays and such. But we were close.
What is about the mama? She carries us all those months, keeping us safe until we can breathe. She gives us our first taste of life. Without the mama we wouldn’t be in this world. Maybe I thought I could no longer exist when she died. I decided I couldn’t.
And because of that decision: My life fell apart. My marriage. My dreams of motherhood. My faith. My finances. My sobriety. My friendships. My sexual identity. My felt sense of wellbeing. Everything, or so it seemed.
It took me five dark and messy years to see the gift in falling apart so utterly. Leonard Cohen says, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” I didn’t realize how completely I had to crack so that I could return to the light of my own wellbeing. I didn’t know how transformative it would be. I didn’t know the freedom possible for me. I didn’t know. Yet, it was always there. I was never actually separated from it. I only believed I was and therefore I felt I was and it felt real. But it wasn't. I didn’t know.
I suffered. Until I cracked and the light flooded me. I was free again. I could breathe. I always could. I didn't know.
You may not know, either. You may not know that what you are facing right now has the potential to crack you open to the transformative light. You may not know. You may feel desperate and totally alone, as I did. You may not know that you are not alone. You are not broken. Yes, there is brokenness all around you but that brokenness is not you. It may be that at some point along the way, you came to believe that the brokenness was you and that belief feels real to you. It is not. You are not broken.
Pema Chodron says, “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s the weather.” You are the expansive sky. If you are caught in a hurricane of desperate winds and raging storms right now, remind yourself that the hurricane will pass. You are not the hurricane. You are the sky. Yes, there may be some clean up and repairs that are needed for the exterior things after the hurricane has passed, but your essence remains unharmed.
We suffer horribly when we don’t understand that our essence can’t be harmed. During those five years after mama died, I thought I was terribly damaged and doomed. Believing those thoughts almost killed me. In cracking open, the light entered, shining on my innate wellbeing and resilience. This is the greatest gift my mother, or anyone, has ever given me. This gift is available to you, too. I'm certain of it because you already possess wellbeing... you just may not know.
Happy birthday, dear mama.
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