I have prepared well to write this. I have my tissue box to my right, my laptop on my lap and strategically placed far enough away so that as my tears flow, they do not cause my Mac to blow up in my lap. I have evolved because, in the old days, there would be a scotch neatly nestled between the aforementioned accouterment.
A little over a week ago I lost my only parent. My mother, Rosa Mae Madison died on February 19, 2017. While my father is still alive, he never spent any time with my sister or me and vanished from our lives when I was nine years old. I always thought he—with his alcoholic, abusive personality—would go first. It didn’t work that way.
The beauty of her transformation—I prefer that word to “death”—was that she went peacefully, surrounded by candles, songs, a few hundred friends literally flowing through the house, and some final words with the man she loved deeply as a single Mom. My Mom valued her faith, loved and supported her friends and did the very best she could with her kids, all the while battling depression and the pain of love lost. Her journey was uniquely her own, of her own design and direction and divinely, she was called back to spirit in peace as the universe would have it. The living are left to contemplate the individual and you begin to question everything when it was the one person who brought you life and nurtured you for all of their lives.
I was not in the room the moment my Mother passed; she was cradled by my sister, Joy. She was reading her beloved Bible and nursed back to love by my sister who chose to ensure that in her last remaining years, Mom would be safe, clean, and in her own space surrounded by her own things. Unknowingly, my sister did what many generations of women in my family have done. Without being asked, without reward, just by pure compulsion and grace. With no regard for her own self or well-being, how completely unselfish.
It seems that I always know when someone I care for transitions. I feel the life force waning and I always, always know when they are going back to Source. This empathic feeling has always been with me, from the first time I lost and had to cope with the death of someone near to me. My greatest personal loss before my mother, was my grandmother. I was 19 when she died. I remember, I never saw my Uncle—who was like a Father to me—cry, or mourn as the rest of us did. On December 6th, the day of her burial it snowed on my Grandmother. I will never forget that. I asked my Uncle why didn’t I see you crying and grieving like the rest of us. His response was the most heartbreaking of them all: He softly whispered, “I did…I just got in the car, drove to someplace quiet and I cried and cried.” (The tissue box at my side just came in handy.)
Grieving is a fingerprint. It is a unique path for everyone and there is no instruction book on how you deal with the feelings. You must, however, allow them to rise up, to manifest. There is so much about being a man that you are taught by society that we “must be repressed or you are not a man.” Grieving—choosing to grieve and mourning—are part of the human experience. It teaches you the beauty of life that nothing is infinite, that everything goes back to Source, back to the Creator (if you choose to believe in the divine grace of a higher influence in the universe).
I am still grieving. My sister is still grieving. Part of my grieving is summoning the strength to even write about this. However, I know for me (and my sibling, who is also a writer), writing is part of the process. My sister, Joy manages her grief by writing for a support group of caregivers that she found while caring for our mother alone. She knew well enough that she needed mental support and she needed to know what others like her were feeling in order to manage her emotions. I was proud she made that choice on her own and through that she still writes and realizes that it helped so many in her group. The matching of the intellect and grieving is just a small part of how some of us choose to cope. Joy’s coping mechanism, like my own, is complex and similar in these ways:
- Personally, I look for a space where I can feel emotionally safe, somewhere I can be quiet and nudge closer to the people who love me. When someone you love touches your face, you realize in an instant that touch is a lifetime in a moment and that the person who is no longer with you cannot experience that moment on the earthly plane where you reside. I seek the people who love me enough to allow me to be my muddled, insecure self during this time where the pain is my wingman. I seek the touch, the caress of the people who love me.
- I cut out the news. I seek peace, calm, and introspection. I have a Roku and Chromecast connected to the television and I stream Meditations, Relaxing Music. YouTube has been an incredible source of healing music, space clearing meditations, guided meditations and background sounds that cleanse your space and your spirit if you allow it to. Find them on YouTube, here.
- Someone who cares about me gave me a candle. I light it daily when listening to the cleansing music and soothing pictures emanating from the large flatscreen, the light from the candle for me is a simple reminder of spirit, of the sanctity of life and of how fragile and special that life really is. With one breath, the candle can be extinguished—like a life—and hence, that used breathe is cherished and the beauty of the lit candle coincide to create a mist, that lifts away from the extinguished flame to reside elsewhere.
- I write and I read. I see life in a cacophony of conflicting mixtures and in this highly sensitive emotional state I need (for my sanity) to document the feeling so as to understand them. With my sister’s permission, I have read her writing. I have read the writing of others, I have re-read passages I thought I understood and now I see them differently. I consume what I perceive to be truth. I seek constant wisdom and sage advice.
My friends probably all hate my Facebook page right about now because every single post is about Love and Light, about Hope, Love, and Positivity and like a chocolate candy bar that has lost its wrapper, I am completely exposed. But believe it or not, every post about love and vibrational energy sustains me. It gives me that little extra push to respond in love no matter what each day brings and it has not been easy because everyone whom you expect to be sympathetic, kind and patient with you may not always have that space for you when you need it. So you have to find it where you can and sustain yourself. Using social media in this way is sort of like mental masturbation in the window of Macy’s 34th Street in NY. Everyone can see what you are doing and feeling. However, there must be a deeply divine need for this type of energy because it has resonated with many people in ways I could not contemplate. I feel the loss, I feel the struggle and there are people who feel exactly las I do.
As a child, my mother would make me (yes, make me) read my Bible with her daily in the early evening until we completed it over several consecutive evenings. We would start at Genesis and end at Revelations. If you read it like a novel, it teaches you that we haven’t changed a bit as humans throughout the ages. This practice went on for years in our home. The Bible to me was like Algebra at the time. Well, the mathematical constant is that I needed that knowledge, that grace now.
I know my Bible better than most people—and I know it well enough to know that you don’t throw religion in people’s faces, nor do you hypocritically go around praising God in the open but treating people badly when they interact with you—so I practice my faith as my mother did: reserved on occasion, with dignity and peace. As she declined, she understood the power of her faith and no longer sought to beat me with the Bible because I failed to follow the religious path that she walked. But I did, Mom. I just did it in my way, in my time, based on my desire to love God, not because you told me I should.
The scripture I sought solace in when my Mom passed was Revelation 21: 4 (ESV): “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” I can hear her reading that passage.
I manage my grief by having been on the journey with my Mother. (Read about it here in an earlier article.) It was my journey, my experience with her when I was a child and a young adult. It’s playing Monopoly or Scrabble with her while she cooked or relaxed. It was looking into the bowl to see if the yeast took to the bread and rose properly within the pan. It was the look of pleasure on her face with the Brothers in the Congregation came to our home to eat the bread she made or walked up to her in the church to thank her for it or ask her to make more. It’s the empty I feel knowing I won’t hear the way she called me “Frankie!”. Or how my head felt safe on her lap in church, when I was 8 and fell asleep when the sermon was boring, and she placed her Bible on my head and I knew I was safe.
I am in no way managing my grief; I am bad at it, terrible in fact. I am accepting of it. I will let it do what it does until the grief and I can both safely coincide and continue to move forward in love and light and where, on occasion, the grief will climb back in its box out of my way so that I can enjoy fully the rest of my days in the sunshine.
Rest, Mom. You are in the hands of our ancestors and in the divine presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I will see you when He returns.
~~ Your children, Joy and Frankie Madison.
Photo credit: Pixabay