Love and Loss

Seeing that the last draft on this blog was in March astounds me.  Even worse, I’ve published nothing here since November of 2012.  I lost hope.  Even as I tried to grab at the tattered remnants of the gorgeous golden thread of it, my fingers slipped.  You could say it was a nervous breakdown.  Strong as my spirit can be, the last few years have been especially rough for all of us riding through the universe on our lovely mother, earth.  We are trying to cope with so many stressors at once, and our Great Mother, who supports us all has been getting sicker and sicker.  Species are disappearing, cruelty has been splashed across the news at every turn and if we love our fellow beings it seems cowardly to look away.  Day after day then, we watch the losses mount and hope that our species has enough intelligence to overcome our greed for things.  Each centimeter of wilderness that is lost costs our hearts and souls on some level.  Even as spring arrived, and the trees burst forth with blooms; even as we delighted in a family of fox that took up residence in a mound on our land, still the world seemed fallow.

My birth mother is suffering, and has been since the death of my father.  One accident or illness after another has beset her, and a frightened child took up residence within me.  It became to risky to call and hear the pain in her voice.  God bless my three sisters who would call every day, as I barely managed a weekly check-in.  Lucky enough to see her for mother’s day, I rode many hours in a car driven by a spiritual warrior to get there.  My sister, Anne, has maintained her writing throughout every crisis, every set-back, every let-down as she crusaded for the quality of each human life she offers her wisdom to, and forded the river of deep despair that seeing the gridlock in our nation’s capital has on all but the most powerful lobbies;  allowing our mother to be strafed of life, fracked/raped for the resources we can still violently drag from her depths.  Even through her fallow times, she has prevailed.  I respect her so deeply for that.

My sisters, brother and I are all trying to comprehend what life without our earthly parents will be like.  Each of us is trying to cope in our own way.  Today, rather than working against my self, I am attempting to open the vein of creativity again.  I am putting my faith in the regenerative qualities of letting that blood flow forth, knowing there is always a new supply waiting to refill it.  Loss is as much a part of life as the cry of the newborn child, fox, wolf, of any sentient being.  It cannot be denied if we want to move with the natural rhythm of this earth.  Contemplating all of this, I send you blessings, peace and Namaste‘.  The light of spirit remains however dark our surroundings may seem.  May all of our lights be bright this day, and may strength flow into you like the sap in the trees.

Why I love Taylor Swift

You have to be hard-hearted, or not have one, to not like/love Taylor Swift, even if you don’t like country music.  I started this post BEFORE I knew she was taking a young man with leukemia to the ACM awards (rather than his prom because of her schedule).  I started this post after listening to a beautiful dharma talk by Tara Brach.  She retold a story from a magazine called “The Sun“, which we both love. (www.thesunmagazine.org/ )  She didn’t list the issue or date of  the story, but parts of it rang true so deeply in my heart.  While it is too long to recount the whole story here, the podcast was Part 2 – Trusting Your Basic Goodness, 01/18/2012.  In it Tara reads the words of a woman who writes, “My Mother always assured me that unspeakable punishments were bound to befall any child as naughty as I was.  ‘If I were you,’ She said, ‘I’d be afraid to go to sleep at night for fear that God would strike me dead.'” She continues, “I thought myself unloved and unlovable, not only by my own mother, but by God himself.”   This was a woman who found out that in the private school she was kicked out of, she had the highest IQ, but the lowest grades.  She then writes what she heard as the most devastating words that her mother ever spoke to her.  The police had just brought her home from an attempt at running away (there were many), so she said “it was bad timing on my part.”  What she asked her mother was, “Do you love me?”  Her mother’s answer was, “How could anyone ever love you?”  The woman said it took her 50 years to heal from these words and the other ugliness her mother spoke to her.  I can’t help but think of my own gifted, wonderful, yet flawed father saying something similar to me.  These are words that become seared into your soul like a brand on a horse, and trying to get them to go away is like major surgery;  many of us never recover.

The main point of  Tara’s talk was our essential goodness.  What a concept!  Essential “goodness?”  Maybe essential badness, but goodness?  I think of all the artists, so gifted and talented that we have lost over decades, and this is what I believe separates Taylor from so many of them and their tragic ends.  Her Mother and Father raised her to believe she was essentially “good.”  This is rare, so rare it is worth not only a blog post but a book!  Many, if not most of us, are raised to believe we are bad.  We can try to work with therapists, with prayer, with meditation, but it’s difficult.  We’re working with a nervous system that tells us we are under threat.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiger or a person who interupts your acceptance speech for an award.  When you also grow up with words that cut your very being to fragments of detached, damaged selves trying to integrate into some kind of wholeness, it becomes almost impossible to put the pieces back together.  Why would you even want to?

Watching any video of Taylor on tour, you see the deep and complete support she gets from her mother, father, her whole family (which includes her band).  Watch the video she made to go with her song for her Mom (“The Best Day”) and you can see how she was cherished – what a precious gift!!  I know my mother cherished me, even saw me as “saving” her life at a bad point in her  marriage.  My dear, departed father is another story.  On some level I know he loved me, but he also hated me for reasons I can’t begin to understand.

People may think Taylor naive, an innocent, someone bound to become cynical at some point, but I don’t.  As I watch her I find hope, for myself and for many of us who find it so hard to love ourselves.  I see a young woman who still finds wonder in the sunrise, in blowing bubbles, in things that “shine.”  I pray that she can keep that quality forever because it is a priceless gift.  Bless you Taylor, and your brother, and your parents who took the time to show you how deep and enduring their love and God’s is for you.  May the road you are travelling bring you joy, blessings and peace.  You are a unique and amazing young woman and a talented musician.  We lift you, your fans, with our love – but more importantly, you love yourself.  Don’t ever let that go.  Namaste‘.

Perceptions

I spent a lot of Tuesday feeling guilty about being pampered by my sister on Monday.  What a waste of time.  Yes, some bad things happened while I wasn’t home, but good things happened too.  That Tuesday, after many phone calls, and keeping my disabled son home from school sick, I finally got some good news towards the end of the day.  He had been approved for a new nebulizer, plus a hugely expensive medicine (two actually) along with vitamins designed for him, and it was all covered by insurance.  We have to wait until Friday for the new meds and the nebulizer but it was such a relief to hear he would be getting the care he needs.  Even if I AM the one who will have to deliver that care.  The drug companies are easy to demonize (and much of it is deserved – there must be a better way to spread out the cost of research than charging thousands of dollars a month for medicines to keep children healthy, out of the hospital and ALIVE)  In this case my son will have close to 30 minutes shaved off the time he spends with a mask on his face getting medicine aerosolized and into his lungs.  That’s a big deal when you’re 14, and have been getting nebulizer treatments most of your life. I’m not sure if it was his pulmonologist who pulled off the miracle, or if it was a company willing to fight for insurance payments (okay, I’m a bit cynical) but I DO know I’m glad.  It will benefit my son, and so it will benefit me and our family as a whole.

As we celebrated Valentine’s Day Tuesday night, I tried to explain to my other two children how much it hurts to have to do things for their brother that I know he hates, like respiratory treatments (he had already left the dinner table).  Having to do things that your child hates day after day  wears you down.  My husband tries to help as much as he can, and it isn’t easy for him physically.  Between the loss of his hip years ago from a bad surgery, and the rebuild of his lumbar spine required after decades of paralysis, he’s lost some of his trunk control, so it’s easy to fall out of his manual wheelchair when he leans over to put the mask on my son’s face.  He takes the chance anyway though, because he knows it helps me.  I didn’t get any flowers, chocolates or diamonds (after three lay-offs between the two of us in the past four years?).  Instead,  I got understanding for my frustrations, a celebratory partner in our son’s medical treatment, and someone who helps me at every opportunity to lighten my load.  Considering the depression and grief that can become paralyzing at times when my son has “had it” with all the treatments, medications, and limitations on his life, I couldn’t ask for a better Valentine.  Thanks honey.  True love is not something you can get from a card – it comes from someone caring enough to  help when things get hard, to listen when you feel like you’re losing your mind, and hold you as you cry when your children have had a bad day. (or if you haven’t been able to have a child you desperately want)

Perception colors everything.  I could have stayed in a state of guilt about having time with my sister and continued the “second arrow” the Buddha talks about.  I could have stayed mired in our son’s pain, and my own, or felt resentful about not getting a flowery Valentine’s card, a token gift, or something similar.  Instead, with gentle reminders from my husband, I was able to shift my perception and that makes all the difference in how you see AND how you receive things.  Try noticing the little things your loved ones do for you, instead of pining for the big flowery gestures that can just as easily be carried about by a disengaged philanderer as a mate who truly loves you.  A late Happy Valentines Day to all.  May you love yourself (which is a huge piece of work constantly in process for me) as much as you want to be loved by others;  and may your perception be colored by an openness to miracles (or just good things happening) rather than whatever your wounded self thinks you “deserve.”  Blessings, peace, and Namaste‘.