I won’t lie- today has been a tough one with lots of tears. I have been doing really well, feeling strong for many months now, but I guess ‘firsts’ without a loved one have the ability to tug on still fragile heart strings. Tears or no, I decided that I wanted this to be a day of celebration- that’s what Heavy D would have wanted. She was all about celebrating holidays, celebrating life, and she loved Mother’s Day. I have struggled with what to do on this first Mother’s Day without her- I’ve already planted flowers in her memory, but I wanted to do something more meaningful, something healing that could possibly become a new tradition. I asked Dan if we could do a burning bowl ceremony. We sat out on the decks this morning with the dogs as Dan brought out a ceramic bowl and put pieces of frankincense and myrrh into it. He lit the incense and sat across from me, waving the smoke with a special feather given to him by a Native American friend. We each wrote down things that we wanted to let go of in our lives on small pieces of paper. I am infamous for harboring guilt, and I had some things that have been bothering me about Mom that I needed to release. Dan took us through a beautiful meditation, saying that we honor our mothers by continuing their good works and their service to others, that our mothers are always with us- we are a part of them, and they will always be a part of us. At the conclusion of our meditation, we each looked at our pieces of paper and released them one at a time into the burning incense. The tears coursed down my face, but I felt somehow lighter. I have made some very positive commitments to improving my health through diet and exercise, and I want to add to this time of personal renewal by focusing on joy and gratitude, letting go of fear and guilt- as they do nothing but diminish quality of life. After our ceremony, we reminisced about one of our very favorite Mother’s Days when we had both Heavy D and GG (Dan’s mother) over to our house to celebrate. Both had mobility issues, and coming to our house was always a challenge for them. This particular year we tried something new, bringing them in through Dan’s garage which opened out into our Secret Garden, allowing them to avoid any stairs. The patio area was covered- a good thing, as we expected rain. We sat around a glass dining table, surrounded by beautiful flowers, as we began to serve them the wonderful meal that Dan had prepared. Suddenly, the rain started, and instead of the light rain shower we had anticipated, we got a full-out storm, complete with thunder, lightning, wind, and torrential rain. Both moms were great sports, seeing it all as a grand adventure. We propped their feet up on cinder blocks as the river of rain rushed down the hill and underneath our table. It was crazy…and it was absolutely perfect. They both said it was one of the most exciting and fun Mother’s Days that they had had. Dan had to go into the theater for a show this afternoon, leaving me with admonitions to use this day to rest and reflect. I am spending my time outside with the animals, listening to the birds, reading, and enjoying the gorgeous weather. So many memories are coming to me, and I’m grateful for those gifts. Even the sad memories are priceless, as they are part of life, helping us to grow in appreciation and in love. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do to celebrate Mom’s memory, and now I know. I’m going to put the top down on the Bug, load the pups in the car, and make a trip to Sonic. There is a chocolate millkshake with my name on it there. I’ll only have a few sips, but I bet I’ll hear a ghost of a giggle from the passenger’s seat. And I will smile.