Today’s cup of decaf is with a special reminder…
I was in my yard today, dealing with the aftermath of a massive wind episode. We have had a lot of rain this Spring, and I am grateful it is over. Finally, the sun showed up, but it came with winds that knocked palm fronds off our tree, deposited pine needles abundantly in every crevasse, and spread leaves, leaves, and more leaves. I was happily spending the morning cleaning it all up and soaking in the sun, when I was struck with the sudden need to find out what the date was. Had I missed it? I ran inside to find my phone. I hadn’t missed anything. In fact, just the opposite happened. I remembered everything. Flooded with detailed memories. Today is the anniversary of my mother’s death.
A Beautiful Goodbye
I know many of you have this same experience. For days leading up to these anniversaries, you may not be directly aware of what is happening, but you have some emotional shift, some memory flash, or just the most subtle wave of a feeling. Then it hits you. This is the day we said goodbye. I love these moments when my mind is taken over by something bigger than me. Something more profound than my mundane thoughts. I have such warm feelings about that day. It is comforting to be reminded of the experience I had. The experience We had. I was with my mother that day and am forever thankful for that. Don’t get me wrong, there were years of illness, pain, and sadness leading up to her passing, and the final days were extremely difficult. But the conversation I had with her that day, the tears I shed at her bed side, and the way she communicated with me in her quiet coma, is a treasure I carry with me. An intimate and deeply profound gift we shared. I hold it so close, that every time I remember its details, I never actually feel sad. It always makes me smile. I know she truly understands that.
Nothing to Fear
It was my mother who said to me at a very early age that she did not fear death. We used to talk about topics like reincarnation and what happens to us when we are gone. I remember being in elementary school asking her about these things and she very calmly told me there was nothing to fear and nothing to worry about. At the time, I was too young to realize that she was speaking from experience. She knew loss well. She lost her father when she was a young girl and lost her mother when I was a toddler. And she lived with the legacy of a losing a brother, whom she never knew. As the years went on, my mother and I spoke often about life and death and the conversations never seemed sad or upsetting. Once during her illness, I was tasked with asking the direct question; was she ready to go? It didn’t feel awkward or inappropriate. It felt honest and sincere. When her answer was no, she wasn’t ready, and she promised to tell me when she was, I felt satisfied that she knew what she was doing. She simply needed more time to do it. When the day finally did come, and she could no longer speak, I was able to tell her exactly what I thought and felt. I knew she fully understood, as I fully understood her.
As soon as I checked my phone and confirmed the date, I texted my sisters a photo of our parents. We shared a little admiration over the fabulous red shoes my mother was wearing in the photo. So nice to connect without needing to mention what day it was. The three of us in sync, I returned to my yard to continue the clean-up. I looked up and a very unusual, yellow belly, black and grey crested, little bird appeared. At first, from the corner of my eye, I thought it was one of my tiny lemons falling off our tree. Then I saw it staring at me from the branch of our apple tree, in amongst the white and pink buds. In front of the tree sits my totally wild and overgrown lavender bush in full purple and green glory. So, you can imagine how striking it all was for that moment. Yellow, green, purple. So brief, however, that I didn’t get a good enough look at the bird. And then it came back, as if it heard me. Pausing for another moment and then gone again.
“Hi mom,” I said. Remember how you had a bird book by the kitchen window? Thanks for the visit and the reminder. So happy to have you here with me. Still hearing my thoughts and sharing my feelings.
When I Googled names of yellow bellied, black and grey crested birds that might fly in the Bay Area, the first picture that popped up was called a Mourning Warbler, given its name because the black patch suggested to naturalists that the bird was dressed in mourning.
Have a cup of decaf with your loved ones and talk about those subjects that may be too difficult to imagine. It will make it easier and more natural when the tough times come. Mourning is big, but it isn’t always sad. It can come with sunshine and colors and singing birds.