You Are With Me Everywhere, Every Day

“When I am gone, look for me in every star,

every moon, every brand new day.

I am not gone.  I am everywhere with you dear.,

everywhere the light gets in.”

stargazing2

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, I went out to run some errands, and at a certain point, I thought I was lost. Lost in my own city, lot in my own neighbourhood, I was wondering what the point of all this roaming was.  Lists of things I ‘needed’ to get done throughout the day.  How did these lists even get made? I mean, how did I decide what to prioritize over what? And why?

My heart just felt heavy. I thought about you and how that should have been my main priority. And now, it hurts to not even feel like it’s an option- to give you my time, or love or get that unconditional love back from you. I was stepping on the pavement along the street, but felt a loss of footing, ungrounded.  I kept trying to keep myself focused on my list of things needing to get done, and not get distracted. But then I saw these pretty little cards and nick knack gifts at this cute shop along my path. And I stopped in not knowing what I was even looking for.

It turns out, I didn’t have to go very far. I hardly took two steps in, and IT found me. I didn’t have to even try. The first card, staring me right in the face. Or should I say fluttering it’s sparkly butterfly wings into my heart.  That little poem at the start of this blog entry is what was written on the card. And although I didn’t have my phone with me to take a picture of it, or even a pen to write it down, I sneaked open one of the pens that were on sale near me. And I jotted the words down on the corner of a little scrap piece of paper in my purse.  Don’t worry, I put the pen back where it belonged.

Hopefully, the universe will forgive me for taking a second to use a pen that wasn’t mine. I just felt like it was meant to be.  A message from you, I hope, I pray. A message telling me there is no reason to feel lost. You are with me, everywhere, every day.

I didn’t search for anything else in the store. Didn’t feel any need to delve deeper into all the cute items all around.

I walked out, walked to the bank- CIBC of course. Our bank.  And because I still don’t really like using the machines to make bill payments and check my balance (I’m very old school like that), I stood in line, and waited for a teller to be free.

I even remember thinking that I must have a lot of time on my hands to waste waiting instead of just quickening the process through the automated machine. But again, I was meant to be in that line. I am so glad I chose that “longer” path.  See, there was this older man in front of me. I’m guessing he was in his 70’s? I am not really sure.

But he was waiting too. And while he waited, he spotted one of those baskets or bowls of candy at one of of teller stands.  I thought he was just going to grab one, …or two? But he stuck his hand in their pretty deep and grab a bunch. Greedy little bugger, I thought to myself at first. Haha.  I thought for sure he was going to shove them in his pockets or something before anyone of the bank employees could catch him (Even though there is a camera not too far from where we were standing. But anyway…)

And you know what he did instead? He put his hand out to me, to tell me to take one or some.  Awww… my heart just melted.  “Have some,” he said, before he even took one for himself.

“Thank you,” I replied. “That is something my mom would do. It means a lot to me. Thank you.”

“My pleasure,” he said.

For some reason, I felt this need to add, “It almost makes me cry, because my mom passed away two and a half years ago. I remember she always used to pick up candy at banks while waiting in line, and give one to me and keep some in her purse.”

And he smiled such a genuine smile at me and said, “You know, I still talk to my parents, and they passed away a long time ago. We were taught that, that we could talk to them forever.  I came from a poor Irish family, but I was so lucky to have been brought up so well. I have had such a blessed life. Even my father never raised a hand or his voice to us. He didn’t have to. He would just look up at us and ask us to think about whether what we were doing was good or not.”

“Maybe you were meant to pass on a candy from my mom to me,” I said to him. “To remind me that my mom is always there.”

“Yes, she is,” he said.

And then he was called up to the next teller. And I tucked away the candy he gave me inside a corner of my purse, the purse you actually bought me, Mom.

You are everywhere with me, always.  I just can’t let it be any other way. I won’t let it.

I was, and still am, truly blessed to have you as my mom.

Love always and forever, Tas

 

 

 

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The Sufi Way

Dear Mom,

I haven’t made it to Khane much at all like I thought I would. I find it hard to get through even one Du’a (prayer) without just being in a bucket of tears. There are smells and words and sounds and textures- even holding a tasbih in my hand- that are so you. They remind me of you. And this should be a good thing. But they also remind me that you are not here to be the barer of them. And that weighs too heavy on my heart. So instead of solace, sometime being in our place of prayer makes me so overly emotional.

Don’t get me wrong. I think I have written this before, but what our faith and the culture you brought us in has taught me is invaluable. I feel so grateful to know that I could go to any country in the world, and if I walk into a Khane, I will be welcomed and be made a part of a community because of this commonality – a belief system- that we share or at least grew up in.

The problem is that I have so many questions. I have so many misunderstandings or “un-understandings” about the words and rituals and protocols we just follow. But I feel like I am following them blindly because I don’t have a good sense of what they mean or stand for. I do want to learn better. I want to learn not just for myself, but to teach others, especially my nieces, your granddaughters. I know they have questions too, and I want to help them find the answers, but also encourage them to find their own answers, and make their own choices. Faith should not be forced on anyone. It’s very meaning- belief- is about what we feel inside. And I want to feel a closer tie to this faith you so lovingly made a part of our lives. I want to do this also to feel a closer connection to you.

And sure, I haven’t been practising our usual Ismaili ways for years, in terms of customs or going to khane. But I think in my heart and the way I live and the way I treat people shows that I have those values in me.

And I found another way to delve deeper into Islam, through something that resonates more with me- Sufism.  Remember when I came back from that Sufism school that one day? I went to it somewhere on Lonsdale. And I told you about it that night or the next day. And you were so excited. I was excited too. But it was a little overwhelming for. But that and of course all those poems by Rumi, and my fascination with mysticism has just planted this seed in me that I think is my “ticket” into an Islam that connects with me.

Thank you for being so excited for me, Mom. I remember the way your face lit up when I told you about it. You didn’t know much about Sufism, as far as I could tell. But you were pretty charged up about finding me books or helping me learn more about it.

Well, guess what? I am now, Mom. I’ve been taking this online course called The Sufi Way of the Beloved.  It’s by Andrew Harvey, the author whose book I got sent in the mail. I think I have written to you about that recently. Well, he is a passionate speaker. And I was so drawn to his passion and the way he spoke about literature and spirituality and passion and … He had this one line in his description of the course. He said something about Sufism being transfused into your veins, and that just had me.

I have to admit, I have found a lot of the information quite overwhelming. It is a lot to take in and some of it, I don’t quite understand. Or maybe I have just never been a great listener to one voice speaking continuously for long periods of time. I need visuals. I need to read the words. I need to stop and think about them or discuss them. Otherwise, they all become a blur.

But each week, I took another line or another concept, or another piece of history or something that intrigued me with me. And it added up until last week where I just had goosebumps for the whole hour as Andrew spoke about Rumi. I think he is right. The other lessons and talks were leading me to Rumi. Rumi is my in to spirituality, to Islam, to getting back to my connection with my faith. And I am hoping it will help me find a connection to you.

I actually called in to the talk afterwards, and spoke to Andrew live over the internet. I told him about you. I told him about what I was struggling with, what my intentions with the course were. And he reminded me of something it sounds like Rumi taught him, or at least consolidated in him- that there is no death, really. That we are connected still. And that I can find that connection through honoring my name- Tasleem, which I know means surrender. And this is the reason I was so fascinated with Sufism in the first place, Mom. I never got a chance to tell you how after I learned what my name meant, I also found out that the Sufis believed that surrender was the highest attainment that someone to achieve.

And that has been my goal ever since- to live up to my name. To surrender to life, to love, to God.  I just never knew that I’d be doing this without you physically here. Or at least not this soon. But Andrew gave me some wise words of wisdom. He listened with so much compassion and gave me so much hope.

Thank you, Mom, for honouring our faith and being so full of faith. Thank you for being such a beautiful role model of spirituality. Thank you for bringing me up with this as my grounding. I am sorry that I may have never really showed much appreciation for it. But I was feeling lost in it. Not quite understanding it. But I am wanting to learn. It may be through a different route that most, or than you went through or that I expected. But I think this is more me- poetry, mysticism, dance, surrender, passion, and love. When I think of these qualities as being so embedded in Islam, that gets me excited.

And I am going to use this to get more in touch with you. I will try to update you with what I learn along the way.  The Sufi Way.  It is kind of intriguing, and magical, and gives me hope that something truly beautiful will come out of this not just for me, but also for you and me together.

Love you, Mom.

 

India Calling

Mom! We won a book last week! Yes, I said “we” because I refuse to believe that this was anything but a collaboration between you, me, and spirit.

See, the book giveaway was being offered through Sacred Earth Journeys. I guess they put on these tours to different parts of the world.  And their contest asked people to describe which of the three tours they are offering would be the place they’d want to go, and why.

The choices were:

Search for Wisdom in Sacred India- with the leader Andrew Harvey

Discover the Wild West of Ireland- with Phil Cousineau

or Connect to the Power Places in Ancient Peru- with Freddy Silva.

They all sound amazing, but of course, I chose the one to India.  First of all, because, well, it’s India. Those are my roots and I’ve always wanted to see India. I know it would be one of the most special and profound, if not the most, trips I could ever go on.  Plus, I know YOU really wanted to see India. And I am so sorry that I didn’t stand up for you and your rights and your dreams when anyone told you you couldn’t go to India because of your age, or your situation or your health, or whatever other fears they might have had within themselves, or for you. It was not right to cut down your dreams and hopes like that.

And I am so sorry I couldn’t find a way to take you to India, to make that and other dreams of yours come true. I couldn’t even figure out how to get myself there. I still don’t know how that would work. My crazy immune system reacts badly when I am in western countries.  I am not sure how it would handle the food, heat, change of atmosphere, or any vaccinations I might have to take before going out there.  So that, on top of making sure you were safe and properly cared for,… it felt like too much of a risk to take all by myself. I didn’t want to put you in any harm if I were not well there.

And the way I travel- it’s kind of not conducive to nice, sweet, take your time and know exactly where you are going mothers like you. I wouldn’t want to do that to you. It wouldn’t have worked. But it’s the best way I know how to travel for myself- to have some kind of loose plan, but then go with the flow and even get lost in places that led me to the best adventures I never would have found otherwise.

That is not something I could have put you through. Of course not. But I didn’t know how to plan a trip with you where I wouldn’t know the place, or how my body would handle it. So… I chickened out and made no plans for us at all. I am sorry, Mom. It will always be another big regret of mine.

It’s probably the biggest reason I was compelled to choose India in this “contest”.  And the word ‘sacred’- well, you must know by now how that can draw me in. Especially now. I am looking for something sacred, spiritual. Especially a connection to you.

So.. this is what I wrote:

I would definitely choose the Search for Wisdom in India. I am of Indian heritage but was born and brought up in Canada. I have never been to India but have always wanted to see it. I always knew it would be a very special trip for me, but more so now than before. My mom passed away two and a half years ago. I feel lost without her. She really wanted to see India but didn’t get to go. I wasn’t able to figure out how to take her. I feel I need to take this trip now for me AND for her. I usually travel by myself and love traveling. But I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to travel on my own to India. So the thought of going on a trip with Andrew- to be able to meet him in person and be inspired by his obvious passion for cultures and history, would be amazing. I especially am intrigued by the emphasis on the sacred and search for wisdom, mentioned in the title of the trip. Just the thought of it brings me goosebumps. Maybe it would connect me and my mom and bring me some peace in that regard. Going to India is something I feel compelled to do but have not found the right opportunity to ensure it would be a safe, organised but also inspiring trip. Maybe that is about to change.

Because of this, I ended up winning the 3rd prize, which is a book called Radical Passion- written by Andrew Harvey himself.  We ended up winning it, together. Our story of an endless mother- daughter connection.

I need to tell you more about this man and what he does and what he stands for in another blog entry. But for now, I will say thank you, Mom, for still connecting me to things that matter, to still being able to both ground me and inspire me despite us not being physically together. You’re right- that is the power of a mother.  There is nothing like it. A mother is absolutely irreplaceable.

I will let you know when the book arrives. Maybe you will already know before me. I like to imagine you have a hand in delivering it right at the right moment.

India, Mom. It’s coming, and it’s calling me. I think it always has been. I can just feel it more strongly now.  I will find a way to make it happen for us.

A trip of a lifetime, or more than a lifetime, you could say. Because we are definitely doing this together.

Love you, Mom.

Happy Sunday.  No day goes by without you on my mind and heart.

 

Choose Mom

younger self

My two words would be : CHOOSE MOM (Always)

Mom, I wish so much that I could turn back time and make sure that no matter who else was involved – family, friends, career, whatever, that I always chose you first. You were my priority in my heart, but not enough in my actions. I should have always chose you first. I I am so deeply sorry that I faltered from that sometimes. You were always my first choice. I just wasn’t very good at showing it enough.