Ascendancy: Losing My Mother & Finding My Way

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As I write this, one friend has just entered hospice care, as we anticipate the death of yet another parent. I am tired. Nevertheless, I press on. It is what I do.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalms 90:12 NIV

In our family, we say that “joy and sorrow live in the same house.” I laugh when I cry, and even in my deepest moments of sorrow and grief, I am able to smile. I laughingly said of 2022, “it was the year that everybody died,” until 2022 became 2023 and I had yet to be done with my grief.

Physics, which might seem unrelated to grief and sorrow, teaches us that electromagnetic anomalies precede catastrophic earthquakes…even the Universe has her tells. Losing my mother was the last of my Redwoods to fall.

Losing my mother was the last of my Redwoods to fall.

Her death was my electromagnetic anomaly, the thing upending the rhythm of my world. More than a year since I lost her, grieving still requires so much energy that on occasion, I forget to breathe. My therapist—my guide to living in this new world—tells me that grief never ends, but rather changes.

Change is the way of nature. I was raised in a fiercely matrilineal tradition: where strong women, supported by strong, loving men, carry the standards and secure the traditions and legacies that make us who we are. We’re not for everybody. We come from determined, relentless, survivor stock, and do not suffer fools gladly.

When Granny, our matriarch, died, and Mommy ascended, I sensed a shift. When Mommy let go of my hand, the bedrock beneath my feet crumbled as the earth shook. I should’ve fallen through the ground, but my ancestors would not let that happen.

Now, I am she who leads our family.

My principal coping strategy is my faith. When Mommy died, I offered this supplication,

Mother God,

I am exhausted by all this grief. I realize that I could pretend to be strong enough to bear it, but I choose not to.

I humbly yield, preferring to hide myself in You. Cradle me beneath the shadow of Your Wings. Let my ancestors whisper words of affirmation to my weary heart, and courage to trust Your Will.  I stand, but only by Your Grace. Daughter, granddaughter, and legacy of Queens unnamed to me except in spirit, deal gently with your humble servant.

Aşę Amen, and so it is.

I lost my Mother and began finding my way.

I lost my Mother and began finding my way.

I’ve spent my entire life seeking fairness, expecting reciprocity, not giving with the expectation of receiving, but believing that my turn would come. Far more often, recipients became accustomed to my giving. I look back, realizing that I missed moments, opportunities, and experiences now lost to me.

That Was My Own Fault.

My mother will never again hold my hand.

I will never pick another apple from my Granny’s tree, and will never get another chance to back the ‘68 Chrysler New Yorker that my grandfather bought for her new—off the showroom floor—out of their garage.

Seasons change. Kids grow up.  People die. Relationships, connections, and transitions happen. Everything changes, whether you’re ready or not. I am grateful for my anchors, my faith, my family, and the circle that surrounds me.

My faith is not magic.

There are people who do not believe in God.

What my faith is, is a frame for the life I live.

Finding my way means I choose.

I Can Choose to Sit with My Regrets…

…or I can choose better…

treating myself like a loved one…

giving with an open hand…

being who I truly am, giving not out of a sense of obligation but solely because it gives me joy…

setting boundaries…

Because none of this is promised…

…and all this [expletive] ends.

Thus endeth the lesson, and the people said, Amen.


Image Credit: cc license

Chelle Wilson
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