Raisin Rapture 892

mum-make-up-bag-high-resDear Mom,

Sorry I haven’t written in awhile. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about you. It’s actually the opposite. I’ve been holding a lot of guilt again over things that I think I didn’t do for you. And I’m finding it hard to let go of that.

I still say my daily morning prayer for you, and my “What should we do today?” questions during the day. I haven’t missed a day yet. It has become such a habit, that I could probably say it in my sleep now. And actually, I often do. Definitely the prayer part as I say it as soon as I get up.

But I’m trying to find other ways to connect with you and what you went through and even what I missed of you when you were here.

One of those was your daily routine- especially of getting ready and you know, brushing your teeth, and your hair. I know you liked putting on some hairspray, and doing a little back comb in your hair to give it a little body. I still actually have that hairspray of yours. It has lasted this long because I rarely use it. But I like that it’s in front of me, and I can spray a little here or there from time to time.

And I know that you loved putting on lipstick, and that you loved it when I had it on.

I always feel like my lips are so thin, and lipstick rarely stays on my lips. And when it does, I don’t even know if it can really be seen. But guess what I kept of yours? And am using very often? The last lipstick that you were using.

It’s such a beautiful colour, and I can just imagine it on you. It’s called Raisin Rapture. It’s colour number 892 in the L’Oreal Colour Riche collection, I guess. That’s what it says on the bottom of the canister it’s it.

The first time I put it on, I was nervous. I didn’t know if it was going to make me sad, or make me feel guilty, or make we wish that I had treasured or made more lipstick type moments happen with you more. I think I went through all of those feelings, and still do when I wear this colour. But I also imagine what you were doing, where you were going, and what you may have been thinking about when you would put on the lipstick.

Were you heading to an event at Khane? Were you coming out to meet us for a family gathering? Would you look at your face and think about how time has changed it? I know I do that sometimes. Or were you just seeing if the colour matched your outfit? Or trying to find what top would best match the lipstick?

I miss your features like your lips, and nose, and smooth skin and deep eyes. I miss the softness of your hair and the baby powder scent that came off of you even in your 70’s.

I miss the voice and words that fell from your lips, and the way your words, and even your silences, could touch me like no one else’s could nor every will.

I’m sorry I didn’t take more time to sit and listen to the words, or sit in silence with you. I am sorry that I didn’t ask you more questions about you, and take more notice of your lipstick colours, or find out what colours you loved the most- not just in make up, but in the world around you.

My mom made my world the most colourful that it could ever be. I didn’t know just how much that was true until she was gone.

I am always searching for your colours somehow. Not to replace you because that could never happen. But in hopes that you are bringing me signs that you are still here with me, in another way, in other forms. And that you are doing well where you are. That you are in utter joy and peace.
That’s what I want the most for you. For you to be surrounded by colour and caring and compassion like the kind you showered us with for so long.

I guess I keep your lipstick, and put it across my lips, to feel some of my mother’s colour and kiss touch my face. It’s like wearing a bit of you when I go out into the world.

I felt a little like you the first time I put on your lipstick. I hope it was you giving me a smile, blowing me a kiss, or a wink of approval.

Dear India

Hi Mom,

So I am  a bit behind on this 21 Days of Abundance thing now, but how can you really be behind when it comes to abundance right?

I’m on Day 18 and the theme is Live in Unity.

The Assignment is to write a letter to your country of origin. In this letter, I am to express all my feelings about the country, remembering that all of my feelings are valid and approrpriate. I am to write everything that arises, it says.

I thought I would share this with you, Mom for a few reasons:

  1. We never really talked about India in particular, and I know you wanted to go see it. And I have never seen it.
  2. For me, India was partly what I saw of our Indian culture through you- the sarees, the bangles, the languages, the skin tones, the accents, the food, the family values, the celebrations. But another part for me was what I imagine India to be. What I dream it to be. And I wonder what you thought of India. If we had totally different views shared some. I’m sure we shared a lot of views, but it was a shame I never asked you about your thoughts on it. Maybe I can tap into your thoughts by writing mine down to you.
  3. To be honest, I’m running out of pens that work. It is still the time of the Corona Virus, and we are staying in as much as we can. So when I do go out, which is so rarely, it’s only for food, or a walk, or toiletries and that kind of thing, even though there seems to be no toilet paper available anywhere I go. And where there might be, the lines are so long. So then I forget that I need more pens. Oh well. This might be more fun and interesting.

holi-festival-of-colors-india-girlDear India,

You aren’t forgotten, I just want you to know that. I know that’s where I originated from. I know that my grandfather was born in India. I believe in a little town called Purbandar where Gandhi grew up, in Gujerat. But to be honest, I haven’t taken the time to really learn more about the different regions or history. I find that I learn more about a place when I get an authentic feel for it and that usually means going there myself. Being surrounded by it and the culture and the smells and the food and the voices, accents, and languages.

I imagine India to be so full of colour, and depth. Like the celebration of Holi, but not always so cheerful. In fact, I feel the heaviness of India when I think about it. Not because I think it is a poor country, or that the people are poor or have less than or are less than, but I imagine so many people there, and not enough rescources for them.

I know not everywhere in India is like that, but I think that it is true for some parts. And that I would feel overwhelmed by what I would see on the streets- beggars, kids, crippled bodies. Again, it’s not that I think that’s all that it’s about, but that’s what we hear about a lot, and not just from media. I read books by authors who were born and brough up in India, and they describe the conditions there. It is hard for me to even read, let alone imagine witnessing in person, and then to actually have lived that, I don’t know how people do that. The human spirit is amazing. I think India would be a testament to that.

And to be honest, I would feel ashamed in some ways if I was there. Not to be Indian. But ashamed to be living such a good life here in the west while the sons and daughters of my ancestors, the aunts and uncles of my culture of origin, could be living in such dire conditions. It humbles me. It makes me wonder how that gets chosen- where we live and grow up, what conditions we have surrounding us from a young age.

I think India must have such a depth of character and wisdom that is beyond most people here in the west. I imagine that like in Buenos Aires, the streets and walls ooze out secrets and stories of centuries ago. It is not something we could see, but sense in the air, and feel under our feet when we walk. I think we could breathe it in, without knowing what exactly it is, but knowing the taste is different. And swallowing that could change us inside forever, even though we might not be able to put a word to what it is exactly.

I know that visiting you India would be more than a visit. I know it would be a profound jounrey for me, even if I wasn’t there for a long time. I think it would be a mixture of feeling like coming back home, and also feeling so lost and out of place because of the kind of lifestyle I am not used to.

I feel we are spoiled here in the west That everything is so clean and proper and safe and cut and dry. I am not complaining. Not at all. I am so grateful for my life. But I think going to India would shake that normal life up for me a lot, probably in a good way, but it would still be overwhelming.

I imagine lots of flowing colours- silks and sarees, and bangles and gold and henna like artwork on bodies, on skin, on streets, and in the air and clouds. Like the country would be streaked of something deep and dark and red that would seep into our own skin whether we were getting a tattoo or not.

I think the different smells from the food- all the spices and curries – would mix together and confuse my nose at first, until maybe a few days in when I think I would be able to learn to decipher between different scents. I might not be able to name them all. But I would know that one is different from the other, or that I had spelled on yesterday in one market that I now smell on a completely different street corner or off of a person who walked by in a different amount than yesterday’s.

I think the foods would take some getting used to on my taste buds. I think I would want to try some, and want to stay away from others because the richness might seem too much for me or my stomach.

I would like to watch people eat with their families and speak in different languages, and laugh and love and hug and cry just as we would, knowing that we are all the same, even though we are so far from each other and call each other strangers at first.

I don’t know if you would take me in as one of you, India. Maybe you would, I think you would. But I might not fit in there fully. But in Canada, I don’t just think of myself as Canadian. And it’s okay. I don’t want to fit in in either one spot exactly. I like being a part of both, and the rest of me just being me.

I don’t know if I will make it to see you this lifetime around. I have trouble traveling just to places that aren’t as exotic or hot, or “different” as you. Walking is sometimes tough for me, especially in the heat. And my health has been so up and down. Just really sensitive to foods and weather and change of anything really, even flying long distances. But you are at the top of my list of places to see. Actually, I don’t have many places left anymore on my list. I used to love traveling and want to do it so much before.

But nowadays, I am happy to be home and build my strength and self up here. I do want to see you though. Forgive me if I haven’t yet or if it is still up in the air if I ever will be able to. I want you to know that I am grateful for you. For giving me culture, for bringing up my ancestors, for giving me colour and dimension and intrigue and language and depth. I feel you. I might not know you in and out, not even close. I might not know your street or city names or maps, but I trust you to take me where I need to within you, to get a sense of the you you want me to know.

I am so grateful for you being my family tree, and leading to my grandma and grandpa getting together and having my mom come from your roots, even though she was born in another country. Thank you for letting her still be Indian in Africa, and for letting her be Indian in Canada. And for giving us roots and magic and natural healing and spices that take me back to a home that I have never been, but long to return to just to see and feel it again.

Thank you, India.

Thank you, Mom.

Thank you, Mama, Bapa, and all my ancestors especially from India.

I still feel you.

Love Tas

 

 

Ask Mom…

mother and daughter2Dear Mom,

Today’s assignement in the 21 Days of Abundance program is for me to ask you, my mom, two questions:

  1. What has been your greatest pain or greatest disappoinment in your life? and
  2. What is your dream or greatest desire that remains unfulfilled?

Wow. I don’t know about you, but even thinking about asking you these questions feels really heavy for me. The assignment says that if my mother is no longer with me or if I can’t ask her personally, that I can go into a state of meditation and ask her personally.

Since I don’t really go into traditional states of meditation, I am going to use this writing to meditate on this. And ask you, Mom, what would be your answers to these questions.

I could be wrong, but I feel like one of your disappointments or pain would be that your family didn’t stay together the way that you may have wanted. I know family is so important to you. And you were really the glue to our family in my opinion. But even with all of your giving and understanding and patience and forgiveness, there were things that you might have been sad to see torn apart in your bigger family.

That makes me sad. I mean, to think that you could have any regrets or even think that any of it was your fault, it wasn’t. Mom, you did the best that you could. And you kept us all together. Really and truly you did.

I think you also wanted to spend more time with your grandchildren. I am sorry I didn’t help you out more with that. I tried, but sometimes, there were so many people involved, and they weren’t my kids, so it wasn’t easy for me to figure out. I know that wasn’t exactly my fault, but at the same time, I know how much every moment you had with those two girls meant the world to me. I wish I could have given you more of those moments. They love you though. And they know that you did the best that you could. You are an amazing grandmother.

I am scared that you feel that you weren’t there enough for me and your son. And I want you to know, Mom, that I never ever felt that way, nor will I ever. I am amazed at how much you did for us. I don’t know how you did it, in fact. I know that you had said to me on occasion that you wish you had spent more time with us when we were growing up. But I think that you are forgetting that you did. You really did. We understand that you had to go to work. I understand that you were handling so much on your own.

And when I hear about other families where the kids’ moms were just not treating their kids well, or just not putting them first, it shocks me. Because honestly, having you as a mom made me think that that is what moms were all like- giving, nurturing, understanding, sweet, soft, kind and caring. I couldn’t imagine moms being any different than that, or less than that. Sometimes, I heard you under your breath say things that sounded like you thought you didn’t do enough. But mom, I wish you could see and feel how much gratitude I have for you. Your intentions were so heart felt and always so compassionate. I am so honoured to have you as a mom.

2. As far as your dream or greatest desire that remains unfulfilled… I don’t know if I can find an answer to that, an answer from you. Would it be an answer from the past- something you feel like you didn’t fulfill in this lifetime that just passed, or something that you still want to have fulfilled while you are in spirit form now? We didn’t really talk about your dreams. I wish we had. I think you were always trying to support other people’s dreams around you.

I think during your lifetime, you secretly wanted all that love back- all the love that you gave. And that is totally understandable. I wonder if you wanted a house with a husband in it that you loved and who loved you and your kids coming by with everyone more connected and happy. You never showed it or acted like it, but I think you wanted your own real love story. I think you wanted someone to take the burden off of you of doing everything yourself. Not that you ever made us feel like a burden. I know you loved doing things for everyone, but I wonder if looking back, you wanted to also be given to. And that you could feel safe and protected and taken cared of enough to receive all of that. That you could let go of so much responsibility and worry. I don’t know. Perhaps these are my own dreams and desires for you. Or maybe I could feel some of these coming through you when you were here physically with us, and when you are here around us in another form.

I cannot speak for you. But sometimes they say that what we give the most of, is actually what we crave the most. And you were the biggest giver of love and caring and kindness that I knew and will ever know. So I wonder if that is what you wanted back in all honesty- protection, love, giving, kindness.  I know you had so many giving people in your life, but it probably didn’t compare to your giving. But I hope that you are getting that desire met with the utmost power where you are now. Afterall, you are with one of the other most giving, loving mamas that I will ever know- your mom. My Mama.

I love you, Mom. I am sorry I couldn’t help you make all of your dreams come true, and I am sorry that I couldn’t protect you from a life of no regret. But I will try to continue to live out my dreams and desires with the utmost intent for both you and me.

And now I am curious how your Mom would answer these questions. Could you ask her and get back to me on that? I don’t even know if that is possible, but hey, on this Day 12 Assignment and meditation, Deepak Chopra reminds us that there is a “field of all possibilities” that we can throw seeds of intention into for whatever we want or need. And I need to hear from my mom. I need to know that she is okay and at peace and that her mom is taking care of her. And together, they are having a blast. Can’t wait to hear back fro you, Mom, however you decide to reach me.

Love Tas

 

 

 

Born into Abundance

IMG_20200321_183950_977

Dear Mom,

I have been wanting to tell you so much lately. The world is crazy right now- with a virus that is making so many people sick everywhere- the Corona Virus. I don’t even know where it got its name. But people are in fear, people are sad, people have lost their jobs, people are isolating themselves to help make sure this virus doesn’t spread more than it has to, and there aren’t many peope at all on the streets. Everyone has been sent home, asked to stay home, and people are connecting more to what is important, I think.

During this time, when this first all started, I had received a message from a friend of mine – an invitation to join a 21 Days of Abundance group over Whatsapp. It’s based on Deepak Chopra’s teachings and his meditations. Yeah, I guess I meditate. Not very well, but it seems to creep more and more into my life. Anyway, I accepted,  thinking it would just be a series of inspiring exercises. Turns out that the exercises led to me forming my own group, as this was one of the tasks on day 5, and boy has that been quite a great lesson for me. To learn how to lead, to make some decisions that I might not otherwise put myself in charge of. And to connect with friends from all over who I haven’t been in touch with for awhile.

Some people dropped out of my group, some people enthusiastically joined and are really inspiring me.

And I am still in the group that is led by the friend who started me on this journey in the first place. Today is Day 11 for me in that group, and it is all about the Law of Least Effort. That we don’t need to work as hard or struggle as much as we were maybe programmed to believe in order to achieve our dreams. That abundance is more about getting aligned with the flow of things so that we can achieve our desires with ease.

I am not sure how it relates yet, but the assignment for this Day asks us to describe our mom. There are a few questions or guidelines, to follow. I thought instead of just writing this down on a piece of paper, I would write it to you here:

20200321_164747The positive aspects of my mom- everything about my mom was and is positive. She is kind, sweet, thoughtful, the most generous person I know. She is cute, soft, funny, has the smoothest skin, values simplicity and the little things, liked watching TV, especially her Hindi movies, and is the best mother I could have ever asked for.

She is nurturing, knows how to make everything better, is strong, a fighter, a giver, and so so loyal. She inspires me to never give up, she inspires me to always listen, to be generous, to be humble, to be grateful, to love unconditionally, to notice when people are feeling left out or sad, to not follow the crowd. She inspires me to be the best that I can, to make her proud, to support family, to be honest, to smile, to laugh, to let some things roll off of my shoulders. She inspires me to be strong and to fight for what I believe in. She inspires me to remember family values, to have faith, to enjoy silences, to take my time, to love myself, to not overcomplicate things, to nap, and give thanks. To bless God, to pray, to believe, to move mountains, and also stay in place without having to do something to be. She inspires me to just be. To not judge myself. To help others, and to let go of things that might otherwise bring me down, frighten me or cause me pain.

Her limitations- she honestly doesn’t and didn’t have any. Anything that my mother did or said that in that moment might not have made sense to me or confused me or frustrated me for awhile, I now get. I now understand why she reacted the way she did. She was right about everything. I am not saying this to be kind or to cover up her flaws. It just is what it is. She was right. She was hurting sometimes, and hadn’t let it out. So I might not have understood some of her behaviours that resulted from that. But they were not limitations. She was trying to be strong and not burden us with her pain or fear or sorrow. That takes courage, and will power and so much strength. It is not a limitation. But I wish my mother cut herself more slack. I wish she was as kind and generous and giving and unconditionally loving to herself as she was to us. I wish I had been that way to her. She didn’t have limitations. But she gave to everyone more than herself. I feel like I was the one who was displaying limitations in my inability to to give to her the way I feel I should have. I guess I wish she had practising receiving more. But maybe she just wasn’t given to enough to do that. Maybe I also wish she had made more use of the things given to her instead of keeping them aside for another day.

IMG_20200321_183950_975What did I learn from her?- Everything. Compassion, courage, humility, the beauty of simplicity, how to give and give and give. I learned strength, loyalty, nurturing and the power of a mother’s touch from her. I learned how short life is from my mother. And I learned the power of grief from her passing. I also am learning the power love to cross any boundaries, including death.

What brings us or brought us together?- an ambilical cord. Haha. Her mother. Tea. Definitely tea. Her granddaughters. My brother. Birds. Songs. Music. Simplicity. Food. Especially the sweet kind. Samosas. Chocolate. Kit Kat. Love. Lots and Lots of Love. Fear, sometimes. But then again, maybe fear kept me further from her on some days. Fear of losing her, fear of seeing her age. Fear of her worrying about me when I was not feeling well. Her stories about Khane brought us together. Faith brought us together. Our tenderness brought us together. Our earth element personalities brought us together. Clothes, especially tbe bright or silky ones, brought us together. Our femininity brought us together. Shopping, the mall and our petite size brought us together. Our hearts and soul connections brought us and keep us together. Pain and loss brought us together but also at first seemed to tear us apart.

What separates/separated or distances/distanced us? Misunderstandings, death, holding in emotions, fear, sadness, love, society, cultural expectations or pressures, prejudice, my not setting my priorities straight, my lack of physical strength, my lack of courage, my lack of self confidence, my fears of others, my fear of myself. My guilt, my shame, my sorrow, my regret, my anger (never towards her but towards situations and other people around our lives).

My mother taught me what a sense of home is. It is with her, and in her presence, in her energy that I feel at home. We are all being sent home during this time of the Corona Virus pandemic. So I am just trying to connect back to where and what my mom is.

Mom, I won’t believe that I have lost you. And if I have temporarily, I will find you. I know it can’t be the physical you. But I am being sent home to find the values and lessons and love that you taught me, and instilled in me. And I am going to reach them so deeply and embody them with all that I can. I was already blessed with the ultimate abundance in having you as a mom. I will just keep sitting in that more, and sharing it with others.

This is not truly my 11th day of abundance, nor have there only be or will there only be 21. There have been all those days since I had you as a mom. The day you first gave birth to me, or even nine months before then when I was first in your belly. Abundance started then. I was born into it, and by it, literally. And I am not going to waste it.

“I expect and accept abundance to flow easily to me.”

~ Deepak Chopra

Thanks for teaching me about Abundance, Mom, whether you knew it or not, right from Day 1 of my time here on earth.

Love Tas

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Mommy

Happy-Birthday-Mom-Quotes

Dear Mom,

I feel silly or sad or unsure whether to use the word happy when wishing you a birthday. Can I even wish you a birthday if you are now in the spirit world? I guess it’s just a way for me to honour your birth. To tell you and the universe how blessed I am to have been your daughter. To tell your mother and father how grateful I am that they came together and had you, and especially that your mother gave birth to you.

I was at the cemetery on the date of your five years of passing- February 20th of this year. There were birds – big huge geese- all over, especially around that little stream that lies under the willow tree near where your gravestone is. It was a beautiful scene. It seemed more like you in terms of how much you liked ducks and geese and birds. How much both you and Mama liked them. They seemed to have just made that little area their home. And turned it into more of a peaceful, sanctuary type of feeling as they relaxed and bathed in the sun.

I left you ten red roses. I took the other two to Mama’s grave. It was easier for me to find hers this time. I counted around 11 by 11 gravestones from one corner of her area and it worked. It was maybe something like 13 by 11 spots in the end, but still. Easy to remember since I believein 11:11’s so much more now since you have passed away. I have to. It’s one of those magic moments I feel blessed to experience “by surprise” throughout my day- either on the clock, on an apartment building, or even on taxi cabs. I heard that in India, the taxi drivers count on a picture of Ganesh for good luck, and helpin removing obstacles, along their drives.

I guess in Vancouver, although there are many Indian taxi drivers, they don’t need any extra god figures. They have 1111’s written all over them- because that’s the digit that fills up the end of the taxi phone numbers. Who knows if they notice, but I do.

I took more note of the numbers on Mama’s gravestone. 1918. I don’t know why I never noticed it before. Well, actually, it took me long enough to find her gravestone after so many years, so that could be partly why. But I guess I was focusing more on the date when she actually passed away- 1987- rather than the date she was born in my previous visits.

20200220_133902

1918. Wow! Mama was only 20 years old when she had you? I just wrote a message to Nargis Aunty about that, just needing someone to confirm. I also told Nargis Aunty that it is amazing to me how much the women and mothers did and went through in our family. You are all like Superwoman. I don’t know how you did it. How Mama did all she did. I could barely figure out one day at a time when I was 20, and even that was going terriby wrong on some days. I can barely figure myself now at this age more than 20 years later.

Superwomen, I tell you. But you are the most super of super women that I have ever know and will ever know. Remember when your eldest grandaughter learned the word “saro” (as in nice or good) from you? And then one day, you gave her some food- was it a samosa or some seero from Khane? And you asked her, “Saro ai?” (is it good?) And she replied “Super saro!!!” with so much enthusiasm.

You couldn’t stop laughing and smiling. I could feel your heart and soul smiling at that moment and any other times you thought of that. I am going off on tangents here. Maybe this could be a topic for a whole other blog/letter to you.

But my point is that there was one superwoman who had you. And I am forever grateful to her. And you, my mother, my angel my favorite superwoman, supermother, super being that ever existed, I don’t know what I did to ever get to be your daughter. But I am super, super grateful for it.

I love you, Mommy. Happy Birthday.

I will see if I can find some cake to have for you today, and a good cup of tea. And mostly, I hope you are enjoying your own cake and pot of tea with you and your supermom.

My birthday wish, and every wish I make is always the same- that you are well taken cared of. That you are fully of joy and peace.

Love Tas

Another Little Laila

little girl singing2Dear Mom,

I haven’t gone to the gym yet, which is what I’m really trying to get myself to get into the habit of doing more consistently. But what I have been doing consistently is practising singing. I love it.

Last week, I went to a karaoke night all ready to sing “for you” as usual. But I got the feeling you showed up for me there as well. At least I hope that’s what it was.

There was this little girl outside the restaurant, on the patio, sitting with her parents, I presume. She was so animated with her gestures. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, because they were on the other side of the glass windows and I was inside. But I smiled to myself, thinking of how she probably would have reminded you of your granddaughters. You were so entertained by your granddaughters’ antics- especially the rolling eyes, and big enthusiastic hand and arm gestures. And of course, the pointing fingers at her parents. You loved that kind of emphatic, excited way about kids, especially in your own grand kids.

I so wished you were there to see this. I was imagining the look on your face. I so wish you were there, that you are here, to see so many things unfold in the life you created in me, and your son, and your grand kids. And also in your larger family.

The happiness I felt for those moments, thinking about you as I watched this girl outside, kind of seemed to turn into sadness, of missing you.

I was watching the others sing, and being a little social where I was at. But I couldn’t veer my gaze too far from that little girl. I seemed to always be aware of where she was going, as if I was connected to her or knew her somehow.

She came in for bit, to take a peek at one of the singers inside. As she placed her palms of her hands under her chin, she rested her elbows on the corner of a table. She seemed pretty mesmerized by the singer on stage, or maybe by the whole concept of singing.

Dreamy. She seemed to be dreaming- maybe about that being her?

Her parents eventually came inside to join her. I think it was getting colder outside. And the karaoke host had tried to motion to the woman and her daughter that it was their turn to go up next to sing. It turns out that the little girl had put in a song earlier, but now it seemed that she was too shy to go up and sing it.

When I asked the girl which song it was that she would have liked to sing, she said something about girl on fire. I didn’t put the title together with songs I knew, because I figured that since she is five (her mother told me her age), that she was talking about a more young girl’s song.

It turns out it wasn’t so young girl. It was the Beyonce song This Girl is On Fire. I told her it was a good choice. And then I could have sworn I hear the girl’s mom say your name. Laila. As usual, I thought I must have heard her wrong. You know, that wishful thinking of always wanting to hear your name, feel it as a sign that you are nearby, and then sometimes realizing that it wasn’t what was said.

“What is your daughter’s name?” I asked her mom.

“Laila,” she said. I had to fight back the tears. I know my eyes looked upwards and back behind me, or at least to the side of me. I had to look away. I tend to do this more lately when I get emotional and don’t want to overwhelm the people or person in front of me with it.

But I looked back at girl’s mom and said, “My mom’s name was Laila. (Sorry, I should have said it IS Laila). She passed away four years ago.”

The woman looked sorry to hear that. But I said, “No, no. I see this as a sign. That your daughter’s name is Laila. It makes me feel like my mom is here somehow with me, at this very moment.”

“Maybe that’s why you had a connection with my daughter. Why you noticed her.”

Yes, exactly. Maybe.

I offered to sing the This Girl is On Fire song with that little girl. Her mom even tried to convince her to sing it with me. But she was really shy and said no.

I left it alone at that point.

The part that got stranger was that not long after, this young Ismaili guy, funny enough, sitting at the back booth got up to sing a song with this other girl- she was probably in her 20’s. He looked over at me when he got on the stage with her and said, “Could you be her backup? I don’t know this song really.”

I was confused, and didn’t even know what song he was talking about or whether I would even know it.  But he handed me the mic and then I looked up and the song had started.

“She’s just a girl and she’s on fire…”

It was This Girl Is on Fire. I was so shocked. I knew the song, and wanted to sing it, but it was Little Laila’s song. I wanted her to come up and sing it. I tried to motion to the DJ to let him know this was the song the little girl wanted to sing. He tried handing her a third mic. She wasn’t taking it. I walked as far down off the stage with my chorded mic to get the little girl to sing with me. But she wouldn’t.

I sang the rest of the song with the girl who was already on stage and had chosen the song. But all the while, I was thinking what are the chances? Of THAT song being the choice? And that I just happened to ask the little girl which song she would have chosen? And that her name was Laila? This can’t all be coincidence.

I felt badly because I didn’t want the little girl to think that I “stole” her song. That I chose it after she told me she wanted to sing it. I would never have done that. I would have put the song in to see if she would want to sing it. I hope she understood that I didn’t even know that that song was going to be chosen by someone else. I had nothing to do with it.

But did you, Mom?

Did you plant a little Laila in that karaoke place, for me to connect to?

I ask these questions often, trying to be hopeful. And then another part of me sinks down thinking that this is just another way for the universe to remind that you’re gone. And that I didn’t do all I could to help you have the best life you could have. That I was not the best daughter I could have been. That is not the attitude I want to take. So I am going to revert to the hope that this was you, bringing another little innocent Laila into my path, to tell me you are always there with me.

I love you, Mom. And I love your name. You and it are forever beautiful. Always in my heart, the name at the tip of my tongue, and its sound resonating all around me.

Layla by Eric Clapton

Hi Mom,

 

I was talking to someone about you a couple of weeks ago near my place. I think I was saying the usual broken record stuff about how I’m not sure that I feel you. I don’t know if the signs are you. I don’t know if you are okay. (Yeah, I am still on that track. Sorry. It’s hard though, you know).

But then I walk into Shoppers Drug Mart just after that talk, and as I am walking in, I must have sort of in the back of my head asked you or the universe if you are okay, and guess which song came on?

Layla, by Eric Clapton. So as far as I know, you did not know of Clapton or that song when you were here physically. It doesn’t seem like your kind of music. Haha. But… it’s the only song I am aware of that has the name Laila or Layla in it that could possible be played in a store like that. Though, it would have been awesome if Laila oh Laila the Hindi Bollywood song came on. That would have freaked me out, but in a really great way. Can you make things like that happen?

Anyway, I smiled. I mean, I really, really smiled, because I got another little taste of this feeling of happiness, hope, possible peace and relief that maybe that was from you.  I don’t know. I should know though, right? I mean, should I just believe without a doubt, and feel and hang onto that emotion until my mind and body believe without a doubt?

I’ve been reading a book about this- You Are the Placebo- by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It’s about how when we align our emotions to a future event or occurrence that we want to have happen, our body thinks it is already happening, so it makes the shift as if it is in that future. That is the placebo without a placebo pill. We can create that in our own bodies, says this doctor. I believe that to such a deep extent medically. Though in your case, when you were in the hospital, I feel like you weren’t given a chance to do this. How can that work when you are sedated and can’t see, hear or talk? That just kills me inside. That thought.

But I need to stop focusing on that thought, and put myself in the emotion and thought that you are still with me. That you are giving me signs along the way. And hopefully, you are getting a little frustrated with me not fully believing, but in a funny way. I am trying to believe mom.

The lines in the Clapton song that seemed so fitting are:

“Layla, you got me on my knees Layla. I’m begging darling please, Laila. Darling won’t you ease my wary mind.”

It’s the wary mind I’m trying to sort out. My own, that is.

I walked to the post office connected to Shoppers just as the song was ending.  I was there making photocopies of some passages from another book I was reading at that time- Through My Eyes, by Gordon Smith.  Here I was- with the proof in my hands- from the words of this Medium. Exactly what I wanted confirmation of, he gives in his book. That there is life after death, that we don’t really die, and that souls speak to one another. That our loved ones are okay and they are speaking to us without words.

I ended up telling the lady working at the post office about the Clapton song and about you. And she was in tears. She ended up sharing with me that her mom passed away, and she too misses her very much. For all the times I went into that post office, I never knew any of this about this woman. Thank you for connecting us. Can you do that too? Connect me to people who can either help me or I can help them in some way? I always wonder about that.

I told the woman about the book I had with me, and I left her a copy of one of the first stories in it.

She told me that there is a woman who comes to the post office on and off who seems to be clairvoyant or is it clairsencient?  Anyway, supposedly, she passed on some messages to the lady at the post office that were quite accurate. This clairvoyant woman also said that there are many spirits in the building where Shoppers is located, specifically in the post office and down at the other end of the complex where there is a big dollar shop. It used to be a movie theater. I remember that theater, actually.

But yeah, it didn’t sound spooky or haunted or ridiculous what she said. It actually made me feel hopeful, and curious about which spirits around us and where. And I like the idea that those souls who have passed away can still be looking out for us. And that maybe they have particular favorite spots they like to hang out it. Haha.

It gives me a picture of their lightness, their playfulness, their carefree and happy nature. Their peace and their everlasting love and energy.

I want to feel that from you. That you are happy, free, at peace, and having the time of your… well, after-life. 🙂

Love you, Mom, forever and ever.

Laila, oh Leila, Layla

Laila1Dear Mom,

Besides latching onto hearing your name called out in a cemetery as a sign that you’re okay, I also have been following your name around in terms of other types of signs.

The first one I remember is when I was apartment hunting. After you passed away, just after actually, I needed to look for a new place to live because my previous roommate was selling the place I was living in.

I didn’t know whether I was going to stay in North Vancouver or move to some other area. All I knew is that I was feeling lost. You had just passed away. I was devastated (and some would say I still am after four years). But I was in shock of a different kind back then, and I had to move, and I didn’t know how I was going to afford paying for just a room in a shared place (which I was getting an amazing deal for) compared to living in my own place somewhere else.

I was pretty certain I could not live with roommates anymore, mostly because I needed to do my own grieving, healing and just be allowed to be sad without worrying that someone around me would be brought down by it. I needed to be on my own and figure out… well,  my life. I didn’t know how to live it without you and frankly, I still don’t. But I just take each day as it comes.

Anyway, I was looking in the paper or on craigslist- I can’t even remember- for apartments.

And then I was also just driving around to see what was available.

I ended up being really drawn to this apartment for rent in the Joyce Station area. It’s not even a spot that I would have thought of before. But firstly, the rent was way more reasonable than any of the other places I was looking at, the place seemed pretty decent from what I heard and saw in the pictures and from the person renting it out. But mostly, what made me think that this is the place I needed to move into was that the girl who was currently in it- who was advertising it- her name was Laila. I can’t remember if she spelled it the same way your name was spelled or if it was with an e. I think it was Laila. Same as yours.

Laila ShirtAnd so of course, a big part of me was hoping that this was somehow ordained by you. So not only was I being led to the apartment that I needed to find, but I also was maybe getting a sign that you are always with me, and that you are so okay and well and happy, that you were already helping me find the right place for me to move into.

Well, that apartment didn’t work out for me. I actually really liked it. It was really cute, and I ended up meeting that Laila. She was a sweet, beautiful young girl. Her and her boyfriend were moving out together into a bigger place. I told her the story of how and why I was drawn to her apartment, and her name. She seemed to empathize with me and hoped that I would get the apartment.

The choice wasn’t up to her. I guess it was the manager’s decision and it turned out that there were a few other people on the list of potential tenants before me. Someone else got chosen for that place.

Though it would have been less costly to stay there, I ended up choosing the place I am in now instead. It is in an area that I love, and is probably safer and allows me more interaction with people and freedom to sing in my apartment (which has somehow become a huge part of my life these days).

The place near Joyce Station would have been way more affordable, but maybe not in the long run since it is further out from the center of town. Mostly, I liked the association with your name at that time and I somehow thought I was losing not only the opportunity to stay there, but also the hope that you had something to do with it. I wanted to believe that your name and you led me there.

But my current place is owned by Ismailis, and is so close to the first elementary school I went to, and to the area where we grew up in the first few years of my life. In that sense, it brings me back to you, and connects me to childhood memories or surroundings that I think I may have otherwise had forgotten.

Though there isn’t a particular Laila in this building that I know of, I would still like to think that you somehow led me here. This place brings me peace. I have helpful and kind neighbors.  I feel a lot of freedom and security here. The tree lined streets, quaint coffee shops, convenient grocery and drugstores, and a reminder of where i came from surrounds me. A reminder of the “simple” life, living with you growing up here, and having had a mom who raised me without having much herself.

I don’t know how you did it, Mom.

But I am grateful for it and you every day. And Laila is still the name that rings in my heart always. I pick up on it in all its forms and spellings, but especially the “ai” version. Sometimes, I see it in books- as a name of an author or character. Other times, it’s on advertisements for performances- especially middle eastern dance or music. And sometimes, I just keep my ears open for the name in case the wind whispers it in my ear to tell me you are near. Laila. It is such a beautiful name.

LailaShirt3

I miss you, Mom. I miss you so much.

 

Together Again

Dear Mom,

I know my letters here aren’t the most uplifting, or just seem full of sadness. But I wanted you to know that I am trying to keep my spirits up and stay hopeful, to believe in what I might not be able to feel yet, but that I wish to feel. Actually, it’s more about what I wish you feel- safe, free, happy, worry free, at peace and without pain or regret.

So I found a new song -well, it’s actually an old song, but it’s new on my list of songs to sing to you, for you- to keep me moving towards my wishes. My wishes for you.

It’s the song “Together Again” by Janet Jackson. She is Michael Jackson’s sister. Maybe you already knew that. Or if you didn’t while you were here, maybe you do now because I am imagining that you can see and know much more now that you are with other angels.

It’s funny how I grew up listening to a lot of Janet Jackson songs, and I know this one, or I thought I did. But it wasn’t until now that I actually listened to the lyrics more deeply. And it’s amazing how fitting they are for my wishes- that we will be together again, that I could feel you shining down on me, that I could feel your love around me.

I guess when I was younger, the words wouldn’t have had the same meaning to me anyway, or I wouldn’t have known what it would feel like to want these things yet.  Maybe I could have wished them for Mama and my’s relationship.  But I don’t think I was old enough to fully understand how much these words could mean to me, and speak to me.

I love the chorus:

Everywhere I go, every smile I see

I know you are there, smiling back at me

Dancing in moonlight, I know you are free

‘Cause I can see your star shinin’ down on me.

To imagine you dancing in moonlight… wow! That would be amazing, and make me feel so happy, to see your freedom and happiness. Your lightness. Your shine.  (I just realized that I must have been singing some very wrong lyrics to this song when I was younger.  I had no idea she was saying “Dancing in moonlight.” What had I been singing all this time? That’s the great thing about the internet now, we can look up the lyrics to see what they really are, and then make fun of the silly things we used to make up because we just didn’t know any better).

The line There are times when I feel you smile upon me, baby gives me goosebumps, especially when I really sing it out loud in that higher key change in the music. A good cry to the heavens.  I can feel how much I want it. How much I want to feel you again, your smile, our connection, your love not just as a memory but as a presence that still exists. I want to believe that it does and it will always continue.

I just need to change the word “baby” throughout the song to “mommy” and it would all fit, including the part about drawing strength from your words, your love and what you’ve taught me.

And then to be able to see you again one day. “Always been a true angel to me, now above, I can’t wait for you to wrap your wings around me, baby.” My angel mother.  Together again, someday.

“I’ll never forget you.”

I wonder who Janet Jackson was thinking about when she said those words.
I will never forget you, mommy. You are with me and thought of every moment of every day.  This song is going to be one of my new prayers to sing for you, Mom.