Was that you?

hopingDear Mom,

Although for these four years, I keep praying and asking for you to give me a sign that you’re okay, I wonder how to know when the sign has already appeared. What if I just ‘missed’ it?

I’m thinking in particular about what other people might have viewed as a very ‘clear message’ I received a few years ago, not long after you passed away. I just didn’t know whether to believe it. It seemed ‘too’ clear.

I walked into the store Utopia on Lonsdale.

I was looking for something. I wasn’t sure what. A book, a crystal? Something to provide me with a little help in finding peace. Peace over your passing. Peace to feel that you are okay. Peace to feel that I could figure out how to live ‘without’ you, physically, but more importantly, how to make sure to keep you with me, to make sure you are protected and safe.

I wanted to keep us both safe. You from this new space you were or are in, that I don’t know anything about. And me from my grief of losing you and worrying about you. I felt and feel so helpless in trying to connect to you.

It’s a question of faith, I know. But my faith has totally been shaken since you passed away. I wasn’t like that before. I believed so much more in ‘everything happens for a reason’. Nothing made sense though once you were gone, not even all that happened in the few days leading up to it.  It still doesn’t make sense. Where’s the reasoning in that?

That day when I was at Utopia, I was looking to regain some semblance of belief. I must have looked lost in that store. I felt it. But something drew me to a bunch of boxes of tarot cards on a shelf at the back. I remember Michelle had given me a pack  of Ascended Masters cards which made me curious about that whole world a few years back. It seemed interesting and made me wonder at the time. But I couldn’t have told you what I believed about all of that. I don’t really know. It didn’t seem to matter back then anyway.

Before you passed away, I wasn’t as concerned about whether spirit and heavenly connections were real or not.  The idea just kind of came and went in my mind as something possible, but I wasn’t sure.

But now I need real reassurance. See, I can play around with my own belief. But I need something more concrete for you. I always want real assurance when it comes to you.

I remember one of the ladies in the shop saying that the Messages From Heaven pack might be something that could help me. She said that she actually had a pack that was already opened, so I could take a look at it.

Instead of me going through the cards myself, I think she just asked me to ask the universe a question.  I didn’t ask it out loud, but I didn’t need to even think about it. The question that is always at the front of my mind, at the back of my mind, and deep within my heart- the question that always sits there waiting endlessly for an answer- was the one of course that I thought of.

wishing2“Are you okay, Mom?”

I picked a card out, ‘randomly’, without being able to see what the message was. And I flipped it over, or maybe the woman in front of  me did, and I looked, not expecting much.  But it said: I AM SO MUCH BETTER NOW

I think I might have held my breath as I read that.  I was kind of in disbelief. And wanted to cry so much. It may have been held in my throat- the relief, the hope, the surprise at how accurate that card was. Could it be true? Was it really you speaking to me?

I don’t even remember reading or finding out the details that were written about that card in the guidebook for the deck. I am not even sure if I knew that there was one. It’s like I didn’t want to know because it seemed like someone was playing a trick on me. A cruel one.

I might have said something to the woman about it, or maybe I didn’t. I was confused about what was real and what wasn’t. I still am.  Like… did that just happen? I didn’t buy the card deck or look at the rest of the cards in it.  I convinced myself that it was too much of a coincidence. That all the other cards in that deck must say similar things. Of course they do, because they are supposed to be consoling messages from heaven for people like me who are grieving and looking for relief.

It must have been nothing, I thought, even though I wanted it to be something, to be THE thing, and the first of a series of many somethings that would take away my pain, sorrow, worry, grief.  The somethings that would take away your pain, sorrow and grief.  The something that would make me KNOW that my Mom is okay.

But I left feeling defeated. Even after hearing exactly what I wanted to hear or read or see- the exact answer I would have hoped was true- I decided that how could it be? How could it be that easy? Even the message that I wanted to hear couldn’t console me because it was too perfect.

It didn’t come from you. I mean, I didn’t see it coming from your lips or your voice or your hands or heart.  I needed proof that it was true. And so I left unsure, scared, wondering how I would get through any of this, and realizing that no one could help me. If even the very message I wanted to hear, without even realizing it was what I wanted to hear, couldn’t console me, then nothing could, right?

But somewhere in the back of my head, I must have stored the memory of that card, and that moment- the moment when I had a little what if sense of hope show up in my heart. Hope that what if there was some truth to it?  But I was hesitant and thought I was just feeding my mind with too much dreaminess, and a lot of wishful thinking, rather than anything that could be real. So I ‘left’ it.

Until, … maybe a year later? I am not sure of the timing. But it was a long time after, when the very same card showed up for me again, ‘out of nowhere.’

I was at a workshop about writing.  I was excited and inspired at first, but very quickly realized that the speaker was just money hungry. He was doing everything to make more money, without much regard or appreciation for the art of writing. Everything was focused on materialism- from his presentation about how his new business got him his own private jet, to his pushing young students to invest thousands of dollars in him regardless of whether they even had enough money for food or a roof over their head.  I felt like he was preying on the vulnerabilities of those just looking for inspiration and a change in their lives.  He didn’t seem to care genuinely about the messages that these people were actually wanting to share in their writing and books. He only cared about his sales, his fame and how much he or we could buy with it after.

wishing3It was when this woman – a participant in the workshop- said, “But I want to write books that people actually want to read,” that made me realize how ridiculous the workshop was. The woman said out loud what I was thinking all along. I mean, that should be a given right?- to want to write books that people want to read. How could someone not understand that? But she too could feel that the attention was being taken off of the most meaningful parts of writing- the message, the inspiration, the teaching.

The workshop was lacking in depth and soul and integrity. The speaker’s total lack of integrity was just turning me off.  I felt like I was wasting my time in this room, and you know how much I hate wasting time.

So I was trying to find something good that could come from it, the real reason I was there. There had to have been something, or at least I was going to try to convince myself of it.  Otherwise, I was going to feel so foolish for buying into this total sales-pitchy, manipulative approach of this speaker, who was frankly getting on my nerves. I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for his lack of understanding of what is really important in life, or to be angry at him for thinking we would be gullible enough to get swept up into his world.

There was one thing that made me feel better.  A guy.  At the workshop. He was very different from anyone else, not just anyone at the workshop, but anyone who I would have normally met or spoken with.  He was quirky. Okay, so I actually do like quirky guys. But, he was quirky in a different way. He believed in numerology. He noticed numbers everywhere and added up digits, and saw significance in all the numbers- addresses, receipts, phone numbers. And he wore these big rings on his fingers, and interesting crystals around his neck.  He believed in natural healing and in the power of the universe.  I found myself drawn to him, not knowing exactly why at the time. But now I see it: I needed to ‘rebelieve’ in all of this again. In the workings of the universe. In the ‘everything happens for a reason’ way of thinking and feeling.

And this guy was a HUGE believer in synchronicities of numbers and people. It was like there was no question in his mind about it.

Maybe this guy was planted in that workshop as a reminder for me to rebuild my faith in the magical workings of the universe again.

Maybe. So I spent more time with him. We had lunch outside of the workshop and he showed me a few tricks on Ableton, the new music recording program I was trying to learn but was intimidated by. I didn’t know where to start. This guy got me started just by showing me how he would play with it and create his own sounds and beats. He made me see the fun and creative part in it. The exploring. I needed to learn to explore again.

He was playful, and reminded me to be too. I smiled at how he sat on the floor of the Indigo Book store we went into one afternoon.  He just sat there, cross legged in the middle of an aisle of books. He was childlike in that way, all 6 foot, 30-something years old and shaved head of him.  The books he got all curious about had to do with healing and spirit and energies.  He didn’t seem to really care about what other people thought of him. He didn’t seem to have any doubts in the healing from these more natural modalities.  I was dumbfounded and kind of envious by how it was just an absolute to him.

His curiosity for learning and about the universe kept me open to this part of me that used to be more present a few years ago. And I wanted to open it up more. I wanted to believe again, and to bring that part of me back.

He led us to the healing, metaphysics section because he must have wanted to look up something specific in that area. However, I think the universe purposely pulled me in there and used this guy as a vehicle to get me there. There was something I didn’t even know I was needing to look at again.  Oracle cards. They were right there in front of me where this guy had stopped. It didn’t take long for my eyes to go straight to the one labeled Messages From Heaven.  I pulled it out and realized it was the pack of cards I had seen at Utopia over a year or more before.

I knew that I would disappoint myself in looking through all the messages on the cards. I was sure they would all be the same, or similar, to that one card I had picked out at Utopia long before then. But just to humour myself, maybe, I shoved the deck and fanned the cards out again, as the lady at Utopia had taught me to do.

I asked a question in my head: “Are you okay, Mom?” and I thought about the tear stains that I remember on your face in the ICU, how you couldn’t speak or open or move your eyes, and I had no idea what was going on with you. I didn’t know if you were hurt-emotionally, physically, or scared. I didn’t know what it felt like when you were sedated, when the blood clot formed in your intestines, or when you passed away. I was and still am haunted by what you may have gone through. And I wish I had done more to help you.

Without looking at the faces of the cards, I picked one out.

This is what It said:

“My death was painless. Please don’t worry or hold onto guilt.”

 

I gasped again. I don’t know if the guy I was with saw or felt the shock in my face or my energy. I might have tried to hide my emotions. But actually, he was probably a good person to have around me at that time, because of his beliefs about spirit and the universe.  I felt tears of relief and hope at first, in seeing the card’s message. But then I got angry,. I thought why is the universe or life toying with me? All the cards must say the same kind of thing This is just a way, as humans, that we pretend to appease ourselves, ignorantly thinking that our loved ones is really in a better place. How do we know? How does anyone know? I was sure that all the messages must just be generally the same.

I decided to look through the rest of the cards.

I looked and looked and looked through the deck, and to my surprise, the messages were actually all very different. Yes, they were all about grief and healing. But they didn’t speak about the same aspect of death or healing or heaven as the card I had picked out. None of the other cards spoke so directly to my question as the card I picked out.

I also realized that I couldn’t find the card that I picked out at Utopia a year or more before then. Maybe it’s NOT the same deck, I thought? I was kind of confused. But I couldn’t find the card I had picked a year or more ago. It didn’t seem to be in the deck. I thought, I can’t remember exactly what it said. Maybe I made it up? Or maybe this isn’t even the same deck.

Somehow, the guy I was with had the idea that he should pick out a card from the deck. He shuffled the cards thoroughly. I seem to remember his big silver and black rings and the cards moving methodically to recalebrate the deck to match his energy.

And again, with the faces of the cards hidden from his sight, he picked out a card. He flips it over and…

It was my card. Or your card. Or … it was that card I had picked out a year or more ago in Utopia. It was the card I couldn’t find in the deck just a few seconds before when I swear I went through the whole deck. I never told him I was looking for a card. But he picked THE one.

“I am so much better now.”

I don’t know why I couldn’t find it when I first looked.  Maybe I needed someone else to pick it and find it, so the universe could show me that if I don’t trust in myself to choose the right answer, if I don’t believe in the answers when they come up with my pick, then the universe was going to show me through someone else’s ‘choice.’

Could I believe in it now? Should I? The card was picked again, almost two years after the first time. And this guy who was so consciously connected to spirituality, healing, crystals, and faith in the powers of the universe was the one who picked it, ‘randomly’, for me I think, more than for him.

And this time, I definitely read the guide book descriptions for each of the two cards that were picked.  They were exactly what I needed to hear.

Were the messages from you? Or was it just a very crazy coincidence, that happened twice?

More importantly, are you really okay? Was it really painless?

Can you feel it when I ask you questions? Can we still speak to each other crossing heaven and earth?

I so want to believe we can. I can’t live without my mother’s spirit and strength and advice and love. Maybe that in itself should be proof that you are here- that I’m still able to live. I don’t know. But I’m trying to open up to that wonderful possibility.

I want my mother to be happy, at peace, pain free, carefree, loved and with me always.

 

 

 

 

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Morning Prayer- 4 Years Now

 

prayerDear Mom,

I still have really bad nightmares about you. I had one just this morning. You weren’t happy, and I also now feel like you’re not happy with me. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I feel this way or dream these things. It really hurts my heart and makes the morning and getting up so confusing and heartbreaking.

I wish I had a sign that you were okay, and that you were also more than okay with me.

Sorry I am having these thoughts. It feels sad, like I am changing our relationship now somehow. I know we were very close. I know that you loved me so dearly and sweetly, like no one else could. And I loved and still love you with all my heart and soul. I just can’t figure out what this bad feeling is, where it is coming from, and how to shake it off or fix it.

I will try to concentrate on my morning prayers to you, which are still going, even now, four years later. The lines or questions have grown a little more. I realized I had more to ask of you and the universe. I hope you don’t mind. Here it goes:

pray2

Hi Mom,

What are we going to do today?

Where are we going to go?

What are we going to do?

What are we going to say?

What are we going to believe?

What are we going to achieved?

What are we going to have the courage for?

Who are we going to help?

Who are we going to inspire?

What are we going to give away?

What are we going to hang on to?

What are we going to cherish?

What are we going to choose?

What are we going to stand up for?

What are we going to cry over?

What are we going to laugh through?

What are we going to create?

What are we going to paint?

What are we going to sing?

What are we going to dance?

What are we going to write about?

What are we going to dream?

What are we going to read?

What are we going to practise?

What are we going to play?

What are we going to perform?

Who are we going to date?

Who are we not going to date?

Who are we going to kiss?

Who are we not going to kiss?

Who are we going to love?

Who are we going to let love us?

What are we going to teach?

What are we going to learn?

And one I just made up: What are we going to pray for?

wishing

I always start my morning prayer with you. Before all these questions, I ask God and the Universe to take care of you. It goes like this. I say these words as soon as I wake up and before I am even out of bed:

Thank you for waking me up for another day

Please take care of my mom, please take care of my mom, please take care of my mom. 

Then I name all the people in the family individually who I am, or we were, closest to. And I ask that they be taken cared of.

And then I end off with Please take care of my mom, please take care of my mom, please take care of my mom, again.

I’ll be saying this prayer until I am with you again, Mom.

God Bless You, as you would always say.

I miss you so much.

 

Where should we go?

dream travel

Hi Mom,

I had a dream last night or this morning that I was at some event. It looked like an Indian or maybe even Ismaili function. I just remember seeing some clothes that looked a little Indian-like, and that smell- you know the one?- Of chai and sweets and maybe even uger baathi (incense).  Anyway, I don’t even know what I was doing there.

But in front of this plain white door was laying this outfit, on the floor. It didn’t look like something I recognized of yours. But at the same time, I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt as if you had just been in it. As if you’d been wearing it. But then you kind of disappeared out of it. Like your physical form just left it and it lay on the ground not in a pile, but almost in the position it would be in if you had been sitting in it and leaning against the wall or door it was in front of.

It was an Indian outfit. Pale blue and white, I think. Light fabric. Maybe some little sequins on it.

Then, out of nowhere, you appeared. Not in the outfit, but just watching me look at the outfit. I stared at it with such sadness. You could probably see that. And I might have even asked around, wondering where the outfit came from and why it was there.

But then you were behind me. I don’t know what you were wearing. But you looked sad too, I think.  But you looked at me as if it was normal for you to be there, right near me. And I was kind of in shock and didn’t know what to do.  I knew you were not alive anymore, but as usual in my dreams, it felt as if you didn’t know this. And I never want to tell you or say anything about it in my dream. So I don’t know.

And instead, I just waited for you to say something. And you looked at me and said, “I miss you. Can we go somewhere after this?”

I cried. And I’m still crying at the thought of it as I write this to you.  I didn’t want to wait until after the event was over. I wanted to say why don’t we go now?  But I think I just cried in my dream and then woke up crying.

I don’t want you to miss me so much that you’d be so sad.  I don’t want you to be sad. And I know you don’t want me to be sad either. So I guess I can only try to turn this around and say, I miss you too, Mom.  You have no idea.

And I would have gone anywhere with you.  I wonder where you’d have wanted to go. To eat, to a different city or continent? For a drive or a walk? Or just to your home somewhere?

I’d like to imagine or pretend we could go somewhere together. Where should we go? Your choice. I want to take you anywhere you want to go.

Thanks for coming into my dream. Don’t be sad though, Mom.  I think I remember you had your hair done nicely in the dream.  That made me smile. That you were somehow still dressing up for any events, even if they were just to show up in dreams.

I’m Sorry

sorryDear Mom,

I haven’t written to you in here for awhile, but I have been speaking to you every day, in the morning and later in the day, and sometimes in my journals as well.  Can you hear me?

I lost something that meant so much to me because you gave it to me. Actually, it was the last gift you gave me, at least in terms of physical gifts. And it was for the last birthday I had when you were here. I lost the dragonfly necklace you gave me- the blue one.

I don’t know how I lost it. It must have been on my neck and fallen off somewhere. I put that necklace in the same Pandora box every time I’m not wearing it. And it the box is always on the top of that thick brown bookshelf I have.  But one day, just a few months ago, I went to wear it and it wasn’t in the box. And it wasn’t around my neck.

I am sure I cried when I realized it wasn’t anywhere to be found. I backtracked my steps for those couple of weeks and asked around at any of the places I had been to. No one saw or found anything.  I put up a sign about it in my apartment building in the lobby and laundry room. I even posted about it on Facebook.  Some kind lady on Vancouver Buy and Sell saw my post and offered to try to replicate it for me for free. It was very sweet of her but it just wouldn’t have been the same, you know?

I am so sorry I lost it. I don’t know who has it. I was hoping it would show up somewhere- behind something in my place, or caught in a sweater or something I was wearing. Or I hoped that someone would call and say they found it. But no one did.

Then this guy at Karaoke said that maybe you took it. It made me smile, laugh, and get upset all at the same time when he said it. I would love that- if you were able to take it. 🙂

Then I would know that you are okay and you would obvious know that you can have anything of mine, ANYTHING.  But you were too kind to take anything from me. You should have though. I wish I could give you everything. I wish I had given you everything. including more time, consideration, respect, affection.

I gave you some but not enough. And I wish I could make up for it now, but I just can’t I guess.

I think a part of me was hoping that maybe you would make the dragonfly necklace appear somewhere. Somewhere I have already looked a million times, even if it was to suddenly just appear back in the box that I always put it, or better yet, to appear around my neck like poof! Magic! Just like that. Then, maybe then, I would or could believe that you are around. Like that would be my big big sign that you are okay, and that you are looking after me.

It’s not that I don’t think you are capable or wanting to take care of me. It’s just that I don’t know if you are okay now, who is taking care of you, and how you are feeling. Do people feel things, or do souls feel things, after they pass away? Like emotions? I don’t know how any of this works. I am trying to believe. Really I am.  But it’s so hard.

If you know where the dragonfly necklace got lost or fell or who has it, can you help me find it?

I am not usually a thing person. I mean, material things hardly mean anything to me. But this was something special. It made me feel like I was holding you around me, near my heart, and radiating the magic of the dragonfly to others around me. Radiating your forever giving and loving and beautiful heart and soul.

I know I can find ways to do that without the necklace, but it’s not the same.  I wanted to pass it on to your grandchildren too.

dragonfly necklace.jpg

I am sorry for losing such a precious thing you gave me, Mom. It was beautiful. And you were so so sweet to get it for me.  You always had good taste with those kinds of things.  I try to imagine that you still help me choose jewelry, clothes and other little things to decorate my place.  Not that I do a lot of shopping. Shopping was more your thing. And it feels silly now without you. But when I do go, I try to listen to hear what your opinion is and what you think I should get or leave.

Of course, you were always the one who would try to make me buy everything. Or I mean, you’d want to buy me everything. I still haven’t taken after you in that regard. Haha. I don’t even have enough space for things and I don’t like having too much around me.

I’ve been trying to get rid of or sell things more actually. But the one thing, or one of the many little things that I didn’t or wouldn’t ever wanted to give away or lose or get rid of was that necklace.

Where did it go? Where did I drop it?

Thank you for such a precious gift, Mom. I will keep looking for it and will keep an eye out for real dragonflies whenever I can.  But in the meantime, if you find it, or can bring it back to me, I would love that. I would think you are really here with me, every step of the way.  But I also want you to be doing your own heavenly things to pamper and be good to you. So… whatever you can magic up or have time for.

Mostly, I want to say thank you for being the best gift I ever got- the best mother I could have every dreamed of. I am the luckiest.

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.

You’re Simply the Best

Dear Mom,

I’ve been trying to get over my fear of singing in front of people, so I’ve been going out to Karoake more often. I still get nervous, and can be hard on myself in terms of how my singing voice comes across, but I try to remember why I am doing this. It’s not supposed to be just about pleasing others, or about comparing myself to others. But just about using my voice to reach others, and to reach something deep down in myself. And to bring it out. But mostly, I want to sing for you, and I need to keep reminding myself of that. That keeps it real for me, or unreal, depending on how you look at it.

Unreal because I want you to be able to hear me. I hope you do. I hope you hear me and it brings you peace and happiness. I hope the resonance of music and my voice making it transcends this supposed boundary between heaven and earth, between you and me.  Even the songwriting that I’ve been dabbling in lately is for you.

I was sitting next to this guy at a sushi bar a couple of years ago in Seattle. And we got to talking, and he said it really well when he said something like, “The funny thing is that the more you sing and create music, people will think the songs are all about some guy, some big love and heartbreak in your life. But in fact, all the songs will be about your mom, and people won’t even realize.”

And he’s right, except for the “people won’t even realize” part.  Because I am going to tell them. I will make sure that as much as I can, I will be telling people about you, telling them that the songs are for you and about you.

The one I want to learn now is called Simply the Best by Tina Turner.  Because that’s what you are, and will always be- the best.  One of the hosts at the karaoke places sings the song a lot. She does such a great job of it. And even though it is an older song, she just makes me FEEL it, when she sings it. And so now, it is in my head often.  And you are in my heart always. And I want to blend the two together to sing You’re Simply the Best for you, my mother, the best thing that ever happened to me.

Thank you for being my mom and for giving me so much love and kindness and sweetness in my life.

This song, and all other songs really, are for you.

“You’re simply the best

Better than all the rest

Better than anyone

Anyone I ever met

I’m stuck on your heart

I hang on ever word you say…” 

Intezaar

Dear Mom,

There’s a song I like, and get this- it’s from a Hindi movie! I know, crazy, right?  I don’t know if I ever told you about this song, or the movie. Or did you introduce me to the movie? I don’t know how else I would have ended up watching it. But I think actually, unless I made this story up in my head, I was looking in a shop- possibly Ace Video- for some movies for you? And I saw this one there, and it was the picture on the front that caught my attention? Is that what happened?

I don’t know. Anyway, the movie is called Paap, which I know means sin. And I must have kind of secretly looked around to see if anyone actually saw me pick it up in the video store, or wherever I got it, because it just looked so racy! I wonder if it wasn’t even at a regular Indian shop that I found it. Maybe it was on Main Street or something? I am not sure. But yeah, cover picture was hot. This absolutely stunning girl- as usual, and then an actually very attractive guy! Like really, really attractive!

I still look at it and think, wow! This is nothing like the Indian movies and images from them that I am used to. Usually, it is a beautiful girl with and old, controlling or just cheesy looking guy.  But not this one.  And the way they were entangled over each other- I just couldn’t stop looking at it. Actually, I am looking at the picture now and I still think it is so passionate and draws me in.  She is draped over his shoulder, and he is leaning into her stomach and thigh and, well,… let me just say that this made me proud to be Indian! Like YES! We are a sexy culture, is what I wanted to say.

I ended up getting the soundtrack to the movie. I wonder if I got the soundtrack first and then watched the movie? Oh God, I have such a bad memory. But it doesn’t matter. I believe that we remember the important things or the things we are meant to remember. And what it was I was meant to remember here was first off, the mesmerizing song Intezaar. That song still gives me goosebumps. I didn’t have much of a clue of what the woman was singing in it, but I could feel it, I could feel something very deep in it.

And I learned that the word Intezaar means wait, or waiting.

So I ended up using it in an assembly I did with my students years ago, when I was teaching Grade 6. I wrote an assembly with some characters based on our family but mixed some names around. For example, Laila, the sister, was played by this girl Nisia in my class.  I believe that is what I named that character- after you, rather than after me. And then the little boy, the brother, was played by the most adorable little guy in my class who had blond hair and was caucasion. But I believed I named him Rahim. Haha! And he was always teasing his sister. I wonder who that sounds like. 😉

And the students – the girls- all wore yours and my saris. Remember that? They loved it. I think you came and helped them put them on. I know you definitely came to watch the play. And the boys were dressed in Indian outfits as well. They seemed to really enjoy learning about the culture. If not the outfits, then the boys I think loved the food. You made samosas for us that day, or on another day, right? I am sure EVERYONE loved those.

Anyway, that song played in the introduction of my play. I loved it. It was beautiful. I think the girls got set up while that song was playing and the music just distracted the audience with some soothing sounds, and Indian instruments and that voice. Man, I love that sweet voice.

I watched the movie so long ago. And I don’t remember the details. But again, details don’t always matter. What matters was the message in this case, I think.  This woman dedicates her life to a monastery or convent. I can’t remember what brought her there in the first place. But from what I think I remember, she believes that the most giving thing she could do is to give herself to God, to be in the service of God, and live out so far from everyday life to pray and be around the monks and others who were so pious and all about spirituality in a very simple and non-materialistic, non-sensual, non-‘toxic’ way.  She is taught or believes that this would mean she would be living a life without sin, as much as she could.

But what she ends up learning is that actually, the sin is her giving up her everyday life, her life of mistakes and love and sensuality and sex and relationships. She ends up learning that for some people, the sin is NOT giving yourself to a relationship, to NOT being open to love and life.  She ends up learning that NOT appreciating and surrendering to the gifts we are given as humans- such as passion and love, is the ultimate sin.  And so she allows herself to fall in love and to allow another to love her. And she trusts and shares her life with a man who also shows so much passion and love towards her.  I definitely need to watch the movie again, because I feel like I made some of this up. Haha! Or maybe I just haven’t given enough of a summary of the story because the details have escaped me. But this is what I learned from what I remember.

And just recently, I decided to learn the lyrics to the song and use it in the vocal lesson I had last week. It felt very nostalgic somehow, when I was singing it, even as I was practising it at home.  I’m not sure why. Maybe because I first heard the song a few years ago, and you were here at that time, and I was teaching, and somehow, the song brought me back to that time? But somehow, it felt like more than that.  Like it was connecting me to something. I don’t know how to explain it.  But it was resonating with me, and within me, as if there was a bigger message or purpose in it.  Maybe you could hear it or me, when I was singing.

Intezaar- waiting… for you, Mom.

Love, Tas

Live Life

Dear Mom,

Again, I haven’t written to you here in awhile. It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes, I have so much to say. I don’t know where to start. And I think that it has to be something in particular. Something worthy of talking about or different than the usual just missing you.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? I mean, that was the problem and now is.  That even when you were here, I thought I had to do something big for you in order to go visit. That I had to have some plan or have something in particular in mind. And when I didn’t, sometimes, I just decided not to visit, or I ended up visiting you, spending a lot of the time figuring what we “should” do, what I could do. But I was missing the point. There was nothing that had to be done or planned. I should have just been enjoying all the moments I had with you.  But I didn’t. I wasn’t fully present, or I had other things on my mind. Or I wasn’t a good listener. Or I thought that I needed to take you on the ‘necessary’ errands.

But all that was necessary was appreciating the woman in front of me. The only one I wanted to really put my time into. The most important person in my life.  And somehow, I missed that. And that is what is breaking my heart. There are moments where I remember being “with” you, like right next to you, but not taking it all in.

And the other day, I was driving over Lionsgate Bridge to head to North Vancouver. And I felt so sad that I couldn’t just pop over to your place and visit.  I felt so sad at the millions of opportunities I had to do that more, and I didn’t enough while I had the chance. And now, I have no chances left.

It’s hard to live with that.  I have tried to keep this blog more positive, and not always say exactly what I am feeling, in case someone else reads it and worries about me. I have tried to have a purpose to each entry, or a theme or a focus.  But, that’s not really how I thoughts come out when I talk to you.  It’s sometimes all a jumble of sweetness, regret, grief, fear, sadness, guilt and worry.  And I realize that the only way that I can really make use of this blog, of this opportunity to spill my thoughts on these pages, is to just say what is on my mind, on my heart.

It’s not really a blog for other people. Anyone can read it, of course. And I initially wanted it to be a record of memories of you that I could share with your granddaughters when they are older.  That they have something to read. But I hope that you and they will forgive me for making this also just a place for me to talk honestly with my mom, no matter whether the writing makes sense, is sad, or doesn’t really feel like it is going anywhere.

Right now, I need it as an outlet to just be with you, Mom. It feels different than writing in a journal to you, though I did do that often for the first couple of years or so.  Those words seemed to have gone into the pages and stayed hidden there. I am too scared to go back and read them. These words feel like I am letting them go somehow- like they are freer to soar and just maybe make their way to you through the internet, through the Universe, rather than tucked away in a book, in a box, under my bed, too closed for anyone or the universe to fully get a grasp on.

I went to a little craft fair today, near my place. All the vendors were selling handmade items like scarves and jewelry and soaps and even slime! Oh yeah, I still have to tell you about who in our family is crazy for slime.  I bought her a little for Christmas. I hope she likes it. I will tell her it’s also from you.  Although, maybe that’s not the kind of thing you’d want to give to your granddaughter. Don’t worry, I will choose a few other things that might be more up your alley to give to her.  The other little munchkin granddaughter has some cute things coming to her from me and you too. Don’t worry.  I just didn’t see anything that she’d really like at that place.

But you know who I always automatically look for gifts for? You.  No matter where I go, whenever I see some earrings or a nice sweater or shawl, or bracelets, I think, “Mom would really like that. Or that would look good on Mom.” I almost said that to one of the vendors today. But I didn’t want to confuse her or sadden her by telling her that my Mom is not here anymore.  Or maybe I just didn’t want to hear myself say it out loud because it would sadden me to say it.

Somehow, I will always be shopping for you, Mom. Even if I don’t end up buying the items, you are always still the first person I think of when I do most kinds of shopping.  You’re always at the top of my list. It’s going to be another tough Christmas without you.  I will make sure to buy or do something in your memory.

I did feel very sad  about it today, and I remember wondering what I should do about it. How to get through this slump that I am feeling. And then a car passed by me with the license plate LV LIF, or was it LIV LF or LIVLIF?

I tried to take a picture of it but I wasn’t quick enough. Was that you again, Mom, letting me know I need to get my butt going and just enjoy the life that I have? I hope so. Because that could mean that you are watching over us up there, and enjoying your heavenly days.

Love Tas

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.

 

…Something That Is Red

Dear Mom,

A couple of days ago, I was walking home near my place. And this cutest little child’s voice caught my attention.  I looked over saw this little girl, with kind of a bowl haircut, walking with her mom. They were holding hands at first.  It always melts and then almost stops my heart when I see mother daughter pairs, especially when they are younger. It makes me wonder what we were like together, when I was just a little kid.  And I wish I could go back to those times to really soak them in and savor every moment of them.

First, I could hear the girl counting things. Trees? Cars? And her counting would go up to ten and then her mother would say, “Are there only ten? Are you sure?” And so the girl would start again, her mother obviously trying to get her to practise counting past ten.

The girl started saying, “eleven, sixteen, seventeen, twenty!” and skipping numbers. It was adorable. I couldn’t stop laughing but they were behind me so they couldn’t see my facial expression

The mother was pointing out some things for the little girl to look at. It was so cute, the way the girl would react.  But I was almost in tears, wishing that I could get those moments back with you.  Wishing that I could just hold my mom’s hand again, whether as a child or adult. It didn’t matter.

When they got to another corner, the girl put out her hands and asked her mom to carry her.  Her mother lifted her up and started saying, “I see something that is…”  And I realized it was the same game you would play with us a lot. You know the one where you would call out a colour or a shape or a word, and say you saw it somewhere, and we would have to point to what it is that you were referring to?  Kind of like a parent-child version of Eye Spy. Yeah, they were playing that game.

I don’t even know if I remember actually playing it with you. All my childhood memories seem like such a fog. Sometimes, I think they are memories, and other times, I am not sure if they come from my own imaginings, or from photos, or from stories that other people tell me.

But this game in particular stands out, because I know that even just a few years ago, you would remind R and I about the game. I think you said that you would play it a lot with us, or especially with him, when you were in car.

So this woman said, “I see something that is red”, while she was holding her daughter in her arms and walking down the street. And her daughter was pointing out things that were’t red at all.  So her mother started laughing. She seemed to be pointing to all the parked cars, but they were black and blue. Until her mom said, “Oh yes, the headlights are red.”  I think it taught both of us something.  We both needed to look a little closer.

And finally, it turned out that a red car and the fire hydrant up ahead were what the mother was actually trying to get her to see. But I guess the daughter made her see some other things she didn’t notice at first too.

Thank you, Mom, for playing games with us, for pointing out new colours and signs to us, and getting us to notice our surroundings more.  I know maybe it was a game to keep us distracted an not bored during car rides or while we were waiting somewhere that was not within reach of other toys.  But those games planted good memories, good feelings, and a closeness between us that lives on in me still to this day.

I could be so sad about seeing other mothers and daughters play such games around me.  Missing you and knowing that that I could never bring that back.  Or, I could pretend that maybe you planted that mother and daughter to play that specific game around me, just because you might not physically be able to do it with me right now.  But you still wanted me to notice the red around me, the beauty, the child like freedom and the never ending love between a mother and daughter.

Love you, Mom.

Can you find more ways to play the game with me again?

Choose another colour or letter, or shape next time. And I will try to see what you are seeing.  It will be like you are right there with me.

Thank you, Mom.