The Journey from Darkness into Light
It is so easy when you lose someone you love deeply to focus on the pain, the sting of loss, and I think that it is necessary at first. We are human, we experience loss deeply, and we need to let the emotions wash over us and through us, allowing us to understand and process the wound to our hearts. If we try to deny the pain, or pretend that it isn’t there, it will only appear later with even greater strength. The pain is not the end result, though- it is just a part of the process, a pathway that we have to walk to get to the other side. The ultimate goal is the recognition of the gift of love. This morning is the one month anniversary of my mother’s death, and I am working to see all of this as a journey from darkness and into light.
I have known grief before, but nothing in my life has compared to the pain I have experienced over the loss of my mother. It has seared my heart, leaving a gaping hole that seems impossible to fill, and I know beyond a doubt that I am forever changed. Intellectually, I knew Mom’s death was inevitable and I observed her rapid decline intimately, but a part of me always believed she would live well past one hundred, and my mind repelled any notion that I would lose her. A safety mechanism, I am sure. Her loss threw me down a rabbit hole, leaving me to find my way out. I know that I am no different from anyone else who has experienced loss…and yet I am, because it is my own personal experience.
Each day is different. I had my first symphony rehearsals of the season this week, and found myself tearing up as some of my colleagues that I had not seen since Mom passed rushed up to hug me and give their condolences. It seems anything like that brings a fresh wave of emotion. As I sat on stage, I looked up to the balcony where Mom used to sit to watch me perform, and I smiled. She loved hearing me play so much. I find that music is still the biggest trigger for me, as so many memories are tied to Mom and my clarinet. Not all of the memories are painful; yes, some bring the sting of tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart, but many bring smiles and laughter. I have so many wonderful memories of my Mom, and I know that with time, the sad ones will fade away.
I say that I am forever changed, but in what ways? I think that perhaps I fear less, as I truly feel Mom watching over me, keeping me safe. I feel emotions more deeply after those weeks of stress and sadness, and being with Mom as she passed. I have a more definite sense of goals for myself, and now the time is there for me to achieve them. I have taken to heart Mom’s constant admonition to take time for myself (she was always telling me I looked tired, I worked too much, that I needed to get some rest…she was right). I am making little pockets of time for myself each day, and being more protective of the free time that I have. I also seem to feel love more intensely, with even more appreciation. These are just some of the changes I have recognized, and I know that others will become evident over time.
Finding my way back to the light will be full of adventure, and I welcome it. I am doing my best to be open to new ideas, new things to try that will stretch me. Even though I still want to shy away from ‘the real world’, I am putting myself out there…because this IS my real world now. Each day, no matter how hard, is an opportunity to live, to honor my mother and myself by truly immersing myself in every moment. It is not going to be all sunshine and rainbows- real life never is. I think of the many challenges Mom faced in her almost ninety-three years. She stumbled at the blows, but she never stopped hoping, never stopped trying to find the beauty- and the humor- in life. I will do the same.
Each and every day will bring opportunities for growth. Some days will also bring tears, and that’s okay. The tears are healing, and remind me of the wonderful gift of my mother’s love. I look forward to this journey from darkness into light…but I also realize that the light is already inside of me. I only have to let it out, even if it is one tear drop at a time.