Zula, Sadie, and Evelyn. Love. Love. Love. #mothersday

May 8, 2016

Evelyn, Zula, and Sadie...

Are those not beautiful names?  And look at those faces.  Are those not beautiful faces?

My mother, Evelyn, is on the right, my dearest Aunt Zula is on the left, and grandmother Sadie (short for Anastasia - is THAT not a beautiful name?), is, of course, in the middle.

I think this photo pre-dates my arrival on the planet, or, my mom might be pregnant with me.  (Sisters, do you know?)

My mom left the planet right before I turned 14; my grandma a few months after that.  Thankfully, I had Aunt Zula until a few years ago (is THAT not THE Best Name Ever??).  

I was asked by a ridiculously special person the other day how Mother's Day is for me.  

At this point in time, it's a celebration.  (Look at that beautiful face again!)  At other points in time, it was painful, as one could imagine.  My mother's absence left a huge void in my teens and 20s especially:  My sisters, all older, were already out of the house, and then off building their own families.  When I was 15 my father began dating.  When I was 19, he married a woman with no children; it quickly became obvious their intention was to build a life with just the two of them.  

I would often send lots of Mother's Day cards as a way to deal with my grief.  

The sweetest thing that was ever done for me on Mother's Day was by Mary, the wonderful mother of my wonderful friend, Jenny: Mary gave me a Mother's Day card, and in it she wrote about just knowing my mom is proud of me, that I'm a wonderful person, and very loved.  I still tear up thinking about it.  I lived with Mary for a while, and absorbed her mom vibes like a sponge.  Mary has since passed, too, yet lives on in her wonderful kids and all the lives she touched.  

Since then, my sweet sisters have sent me Mother's Day cards on occasion, in thanks for being a good aunt to their kids, and to thank me for 'mothering' them a bit all these years.  

I will often buy myself yellow roses as they were my mother's favorite flower.  

I see Mother's Day as celebration now because of all my mother gave me and continues to give me, both from my time with her and from her absence, and all it has taught me about her, about life, and myself.  

I've come to notice her presence, not her absence, and that has been tremendously healing for me.  She was always there; I chose to focus far too long on her absence and the story I told myself about it, which only caused me suffering.  

I still use items from her kitchen, which became my kitchen, and a few other things from the house, which became my house.  I have a sweater jacket of hers I cherish, and two of her coats; I get to feel her arms around me still. I have her recipe box, recipes written by her, letters from her from when I was at Camp Hitaga for a week every summer and when she was away getting chemo.  I have the diamond from her wedding ring.  

I have a photo of her with me and a couple of my sisters.  In it, Mom has her arm around me and her hand is on my right side.  On my right side where her hand is, I have a birthmark.  As a child, I asked my mom why it was there.  She said it was where the angels kissed me when I was born.  Indeed. A permanent angel kiss and a felt memory of the warmth of her hand. 

But more importantly than the stuff, letting go of my grief about her absence has allowed me to appreciate her much more fully, and, it feels, has opened up space for her to be around more in spirit. My anger and grief kept her away, I came to realize.   

I didn't mention anger before, but anyone who has lost someone always experiences anger about that for some length of time.  And denial and depression and fear and every other emotion you can list.  I wasn't allowed to be angry, however.  My father expected me to be a 'trooper', and more importantly to him, never cause him embarrassment.  I grew strong, that's for sure, like the good soldier he expected me to be; he got more than he asked for, though, and came to be frustrated by my strength, much to my pride at the time.  And, while I not-so-proudly (though often joyfully) drank like a fish inhigh school, I did not, indeed, ever cause him embarrassment.  He was not easy, but I honored him.

I am glad I woke up from the grief, consciously let it go and light and healing and a quiet mind - and her - in.  Awakening gives us everything.

A favorite line from an old Sting song has been with me a long time and sums it all up well:  From the wound a lovely flower grew.  

Letting our wounds of grief heal does result in beauty and profound growth as humans; scars and broken bones result in stronger skin and bones, higher resilience.  Pain is a great teacher, if we let it be.  Wisdom comes from wounds as well as from joy and stillness.

Changing our stories heals us and makes us the heroes and heroines of our stories instead of victims.

I look at those three faces.  A study in contrasts, as each woman was profoundly herself; they had their differences, yet they had their fierce commonalities, too.  Faith, mothering, creating, homemaking, service to community, generosity, humility, love.  

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.  Thank you, Mom, Grandma, Aunt, for all you gave me and continue to give me.  May I be so generous and loving with others.    




I help people with grief, life transitions, weight reduction, learning to trust their intuition, healing emotional pain, and realizing dreams. 

Lauren Oujiri, M.A., Certified Martha Beck Life Coach::


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