“Wholeness does not mean perfection; it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.” ~ Parker Palmer
I lost my mom when I was ten years old. I don’t remember much that happened right after she died, but I remember this: I had no idea what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to be. Adults were busy managing the details of her death and doing what they could to handle the day-to-day tasks of the life she left behind, pushing their grief to the edges with “things that had to be done.” I could tell it was hard. I tried to manage myself and stay out of the way.
How did this experience affect you?
People didn’t talk about my mom much, so I didn’t talk about her either. I listened to Sally Jessy Raphael’s radio show late at night when I could find the signal. Her voice and advice comforted me. I wrote a poem that won a local writing contest:
The light forever glowing
has come down from the sky.
It seems to me it always does
when someone has to die.
But maybe in a year or two,
just maybe I will see,
The light forever glowing,
Shining down on me.
What are your feelings about this experience?
On the rare occasions that someone spoke of her, I would burst into tears – of sadness, of longing, of relief that she wasn’t forgotten. One day, that display of raw emotion was too hard for someone in my circle, and she told me I needed to stop crying about my mom. Finally, an adult had told me what to do in the wake of my mom’s death. I did my best to stop the tears and became determined to be as “normal” as everyone else. And, for the most part, it seemed to work.
But life went on and dealt me more pain and hurts, as life has a way of doing. I’m not sure exactly when the stacked up hurts started overpowering my joy, but once I realized what was happening, I felt helpless to stop it.
What are you learning?
It took me a long time to figure out that the only way to bring joy back in my life was to stop pretending that hurts and losses didn’t hurt. I have started to acknowledge that, the day my mother died, the light did indeed fall out of my ten-year-old self’s sky, and I am learning that fully being in the darkness is the only way to take away loss’ seemingly infinite power.
How are you working with this loss?
So now when I feel tears come, I do my best to set them free. Sometimes, it seems like they might drown me, those years and years of unspent tears, but, deep inside, I know they won’t. They cleanse me, refresh me, and help remind me of my mom’s everlasting presence in my life.
The more I go back and let myself fully feel the pain, the hurt, the sadness, the more I am able to “re-member” myself into a whole person, one who connects to the complete spectrum of human emotions, not just a carefully controlled range.
The hurts and pain are evaporating into the restored Light, and I have growing spaces for joy. I am moving from motherless to motherfull. It feels like a new beginning.
Amy Lembcke. Minnesota. The United States.