Tender Spots

The month of March came blowing in like a lion early Wednesday morning, bringing with it many tender spots for me to massage. March 24 will mark the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death, and March also brings both of our birthdays falling within three days of each other (mine on the ninth, hers on the twelfth.) Last year she spent her birthday in the hospital; this year she would have been 90 years old, a milestone date for sure, but one not destined for her to achieve. 

March is only two days old, and I’m starting to feel the phantom pains of remembered grief. I’m not surprised by it, and I think I’m prepared for it. The last eleven months have been an effective crash course in handling intense grief. I’ve always been a model student, and I give myself credit for surviving an event I believe was the hardest thing that ever happened to me. In the first weeks after my mom died, I felt sure my heart was broken forever. But the human spirit is indomitable. The restorative powers of time, love, and friendship began to work their magic, and the broken places in my heart and soul began to heal.

Ready or Not

Like most little kids, my grandson loves to play hide-and-go-seek. His version is slightly different than the one I’m most accustomed to playing. He likes to hide objects instead of people. So one of us will hide something while the other one closes their eyes and counts to 10. When we’re finished counting, we’re supposed to shout out, “Ready??” to make sure the object has been sufficiently hidden.

Sometimes when I’m the “hider” I scramble to find a good hiding place for whatever I’m tasked with concealing. “Wait!” I have to call out. “I’m not ready yet!” Connor usually sighs in exasperation, but graciously gives me another few seconds. “Are you ready YET??” he finally shouts. 

“Okay,” I concede, even if I’m not. And he tears off looking for the model car or the stuffed animal or the book or whatever it is we’re hiding on this particular day.

The game of hide-and-go-seek with it’s “ready or not” concept is very appropriate to life, isn’t it? So many times we’re faced with the prospect of change and hesitate because we’re not ready. 

Betwixt and Between

Many mornings this summer I’ve woken early, brewed the coffee, and taken my first cup outdoors, quietly excited to see what’s happened in my small garden overnight. I call it a “garden,” but it’s really just flowers planted in the landscaping that circumvents our condo. Because we’re on the corner, we have a large enough area to add a good number of annuals, planters, and garden ornaments amongst the existing greenery.

Now I’m no “gardener,” at least not in the sense that many of my friends are, with lush backyards filled with perennials, annuals, and even ponds or fountains. My small space is just the right size for my gardening talents, and each year we’ve lived here I’ve enjoyed planting flowers and trying out new combinations of potted arrangements. 

Coming Around

A couple of weeks ago I gathered up my courage and plunged into the final stages of preparing my mother’s house for sale. After my first initial burst of cleaning frenzy, I had been coasting for a while, taking some time to just sit (literally and figuratively!) with this profound change in my life. But I began to feel ready to move forward, to move ON, and so I did a last burst of cleaning and clearing at the house, got some tips from a realtor friend, and was on track to put the house on the market in early August.

Broken-Open Hearts

“The most remarkable thing about broken hearts is that they are also open hearts. Broken hearts are soft and malleable. The locks protecting broken hearts have fallen to the floor - they are left unguarded. Broken hearts are easy to enter. Where the broken parts have fallen away, there is open space. Nothing is held too tightly anymore. My broken heart allows me to see the way other’s hearts are broken too. I am developing more compassion as others suffering becomes clear to me. No matter how hard and unpredictable this path is, I want to keep sitting here with Grief.”  Anna Hodges Oginsky, My New Friend, Grief, Reflections on Loss and Life

Hearts are one of my talismans. Like butterflies and birds and flowers, the heart symbolizes everlasting love and continued life, and has come to stand as a comforting sign of my mother’s spirit. The paragraph above from Anna Oginsky’s book (My New Friend, Grief) spoke volumes to me as I continue learning about living with loss and the reformation it’s creating in my life.