After a long soak, many tears, and a cleansing of fire and water, I have found my way to forgiveness… at least for a while.
See, there are things that I’ve been through that have significantly changed the way I see the world and the way I walk in it. The most significant being becoming a Mother, the loss of my Mom, and the loss of my best friend. Today I want to talk about the loss of two beautiful women that mean so much to me.
My Mom and I had an amazing bond. She taught me how to love. She loved unconditionally. No one that met her left her without feeling or sensing her amazing spirit. Not everyone reacted to it the same way, but everyone felt it. She had gone through a lot and managed to not allow it to dim her light. She went through seasons the way we all do but she always found her way back to joy. She always found a reason to keep loving and that love made her glow.
She became very ill and I became a full-time nurse to her. I didn’t do it alone though. My Dad was there through it all. I watched it take its toll on him too and I felt helpless to help them both through it. I did what I could the best that I could but in the end my Mom decided it was time to leave this world. She wasn’t able to speak or write in the end. The official decision to turn off her life support came down to me. I will never forget the doctor walking into the room and breaking the news to me and asking me to sign all these papers.
A signature…. Never had I hated my signature so much. Something so seemingly small and insignificant. Yet there it was, my signature on the papers that gave the hospital permission to release my Mom from this life. I stayed with my mom for a while after the doctor left with those papers. She was awake but in a lot of pain. I didn’t know what to do so I did the only thing that I could think of, I sang to her the way she used to sing to me. She loved music. She always encouraged me to sing but I was always so shy that I rarely sing in front of others. In that moment though, I couldn’t think of what else to do but to sing. While I sang to her she finally fell asleep and I felt her grip on my hand release as she drifted into a much needed drug induced and pain-free sleep. Her life support machines wouldn’t be turned off until 2 days later to allow time for family to come and say their goodbyes. I left shortly after she fell asleep and broke the news to my family and began the preparations need to accommodate visiting family and her memorial service. I was in a horrible head space.
I wasn’t okay. I felt the worst guilt. I loved her so very very much, but I couldn’t save her! I couldn’t will her to life. I couldn’t pray her to life. I couldn’t do anything but lose her. I tried so hard and failed. The grief was un-measurable. I still feel it and some days it is still crippling, but most days I get by okay.
My best friend died a few years later. She left behind 4 beautiful children. She was a spirit full of energy and love. She was my cheerleader! She would always encourage me to go after my dreams and to do those things I loved. We spent a lot of time together. We loved baking, cooking, and sneaking away to take mini day adventures. And I cannot forget the nights spent listening to music and dancing the night away. She was an excellent dancer! Sadly, she suffered from self-esteem and self-worth issues almost all her life; however, she would be the first person to tell you how beautiful and worthy you are. She was beautiful both inside and out but she couldn’t see it. She was always there to give whatever she could to someone that was in need. Sometimes giving more than she should. We had known each other for over 20 years and were more like sisters than anything else.
She had undergone a major life changing surgery in the hopes of starting a new life. She wanted, more than anything, to find a good man and have a family that she could love and care for. Sadly, the combination of low self-worth and a generous heart resulted in her getting into relationships with men that fathered her children but would never be their Dad or her husband. She fell into relationships of abuse, both physical and mental. She began a quick and horrible descent into addiction. I watched and had no idea how to help her. My own fear of not being able to save her just like I couldn’t save my mom kicked in big time. I didn’t know what to do to help her. She had moved a long distance from me and I felt so helpless. In the end she would call me multiple times a day and not say anything but instead play music for me over the phone. Music that had memories attached. Music that said what she couldn’t. Music…. she loved music so much and had the most beautiful voice. At the end though, she couldn’t sing anymore. Her body was shutting down and was in too much pain. She died alone. Her children had been taken and her fiancé had abandoned her.
There I was again. I couldn’t save her. My love, no matter how great, wasn’t enough. There was that same ugly and debilitating pain that had been haunting me since my Moms death. It came back with a vengeance.
I became so afraid. I wanted to hide. I wanted to not have to feel yet I wanted to feel punished somehow for failing them so badly. I wanted to say how sorry I was. I wanted to know why I am still here and they are not. I am not anymore worthy or important or loved than they were. So why are they gone and I’m here? I think of all the things I could have done differently. All the things I should have noticed earlier. All the ways I let them down. All the reasons I was to blame.
I have recently been talking to a close friend about starting or becoming a part of a community that could help people. A place where people could be themselves and know that they will be loved. A community of respect and acceptance. I want to be able to make a positive impact on those around me and to also be impacted by others and their humanness and their stories. I want to forge a connection from one soul to the next with love, acceptance, honesty, compassion, and patience. My friend has been encouraging me to take steps to use my own gifts and skills to help others as a part of building this community I seek. There’s one big problem I keep facing. What if I fail, again? What if I miss important signs? What if I lose someone I love again? How can I think I can help anyone when I couldn’t help people I loved so deeply? Clearly, I am not the person to offer help, right?
Well, today I asked forgiveness. I’ve asked forgiveness from my Mom and my Friend in the past and I know that they have forgiven me. Being honest, I know that they do not blame me for what they went through. They are simply those types of souls.
Today, I asked for and gave forgiveness to myself. I humbled myself and looked at myself the way I would at them. I am not in control of all things. I am only me. I can only do my best in the moment and in the situation. I have learned a lot from these experiences and would probably do things differently had I known then what I know now. But I am no different than anyone else in that I am learning all the time. Hind sight is 20/20. I know that I loved them. I know that they knew I loved them. I know that I told them just what they meant to me. They were some of the biggest parts of my universe, and you know what, they still are. I will take the lessons I’ve learned and move forward. They never hid their light. They didn’t hold back their love or their gifts. My mom shared her cooking, and her love of music and gardening with everyone. My friend shared her lovely voice, witty sense of humor, and delicious baking with all. They both readily shared their big loving hugs! I will too.
Today, in a candlelit bath, I forgave myself. I released myself today to push past my fears and to open my heart with love. I burned 2 candles and fed one all those things that I feared. I fed it all my self blame and all my regret. I allowed myself to feel all the pain and just let it all be burned up. I let that candle burn itself out. The second candle I fed my hopes and desires, those things I wish to manifest. I spent time in meditation focusing on the flame’s glow. I allowed my heart to be filled with possibility and a connection to the universe, to that which is in us all.
I allowed the water to run over me and cleans me and then I let it all drain away. Feeling a newness, a rebirth, a new dedication to living and loving fully. Once all was done, I blew out that last candle with a promise, forgiveness, and with peace.
I don’t know what this will manifest in my life. All I know is it is time to stop hiding and time to start sharing, living truly, and loving again.
Grief is hard. I know.
This work isn’t done, I’m sure. I believe in cycles. I believe that this work of forgiveness and opening my heart will come up again and again. I promise to meet it every time in whatever way I need to. No more hiding.
To anyone reading this who may identify with those feelings of grief, loss, and regret, keep going. Forgive yourself. Do not hide yourself from the world, it needs you.