Songs That Choke Me Up

sad songs

Dear Mom,

I’ve been going to karaoke a lot lately. Though I have lost my voice from overuse or holding emotions in my throat (that’s a topic for a whole other blog post), I still like being around people who sing. And I am hoping to get my voice back to itself or stronger sometime soon.

The trouble is that songs years ago, that I really liked, and could have sung now…well, some of them are too hard to sing. Not because of the complexity of the song in my voice, but the complexity and utter anguish that it causes in my heart.

Did you know that my go to song when I first tried karaoke a few years ago was always Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. It’s a great song, and fits well in my voice. But I can’t finish the line that says “If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting, time after time.”

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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…” 

Morning Prayer- 3 years now

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

~ Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi~

 

daisies

Dear Mom,

I can’t believe it’s been exactly three years now since you passed away.  It doesn’t feel that way at all. I can remember all the details as if it was yesterday. And it still is painful, as much if not as more, because now the reality of it all has settled in.  And that is so much more unsettling than anything I’ve ever had to face.

But I’ve included you in my thoughts- my morning prayers- every morning since then. I don’t think I’ve missed a day.  It’s not the usual kind of prayer. It’s more like me asking you what we should do for the day. How we should treat people, what choices we will make. It’s me asking you to the guide the way. I wonder if you hear me at all when I say the words.

I still put that picture of you and me off the window sill each morning, and say this prayer or list of questions “to you” while walking over to my little wine coloured shelf near the kitchen. I place your picture of us on the shelf once I’m done. And it stays there for the whole day. And in the evening, I take the picture off of the shelf and put it back on the windowsill, and turn on the little while string of lights that rest there, so that the picture and you are illuminated. I love it when the moonlight also adds to this.

I don’t leave the picture on the windowsill during the day because

1). I don’t want it to fade from the sunlight. I don’t need more things to add to this fear of you fading. Not that you ever will from my heart or memory. But time is not always a healer, I don’t think. Sometimes, it can blur my memories. And I don’t need one of my favorite pictures of us being blurred or washed out as well.

2) I don’t want the frame or the picture to get scorched by the heat like it has done to some other little trinkety things I have put there in the past.

I think I’ve posted about this before, but I’ve added more questions to it, so I am reposting it with the updated version.

Here it goes:

Hi Mom, 
Good morning. 

What are we going to do today?

Where are we going to go? 

What are we going to see?

Who are we going to meet?

What are we going to say?

What are we going to change?

What are we going to cry over? 

What are we going to laugh through?

What are we going to stand up for?

What are we going to believe?

What are we going to choose?

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?

Who are we going to date?

Who are we not going to date?

What are we going to achieve?

What are we going to dream?

Who are we going to help?

Who are we going to inspire. 

And then I usually sigh and say, “Oh mom.”

My heart hurts. But I know I need to keep going to make you proud, and make this life you blessed me with worth living.

Thank you, Mom. I hope heaven is treating you well.  I wish that sometimes you could show up in my dreams, the good kind of dreams, and tell me a story, or tell me how you are doing. I still worry about you.

 

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

Strumming for You

Dear Mom,

I’ve been playing my guitar, and it’s all really thanks to you.

Do you remember that time that I came to your place with my little three quarter acoustic guitar? And I barely knew how to play two chords. G and C, I think. Or maybe it was D and G, just because I couldn’t get my fingers to sit comfortably or accurate along the frets on the C chord.

I sat or almost stood on your couch. And I was just strumming the same two chords, very badly, I might add. But mothers never see the bad, do they? At least you didn’t.  When I stopped, and got frustrated, there was not even a hint of relief in your voice. I would have thought that anyone would have been so frustrated by the noise I was making. But not you. What did you say?

“Don’t stop. Keep playing. It sounds so beautiful. You should play in the Ismaili band.”

Haha. Mom, you could always make my heart melt. And on that day, I had no idea how much your words and that moment would mean so much to me. I had no idea how much that moment- your smile, your encouragement, the furry feel of that blue and orange plaid kind of blanket on the couch, and the warmth of my mother’s home would soak into me.  It had to. It has to. It is no longer there. I can’t believe that was only a few years ago. Another part of me can’t believe you have been gone over two years.

I have two guitars now, Mom. I still have the small one and now I also have a classical guitar that a friend gave me.  He wasn’t using it anymore. I play that classical one more because the strings are softer and the book I am practising from is geared towards classical guitar music.

I don’t play or practise often. But I know I won’t ever give it up. My mother taught me never to give up. Your voice, urging me to keep playing, stays in my heart.  I wish I could have played some songs for you- full songs. Not just a couple of chords. But I know that the chords were somehow just as beautiful to you as any complete songs. Because you just saw and brought out the beauty in me your daughter. It didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do. You just love me for me, and all that I was. You heard the music in me before I even brought it forth. You heard the songs before the were even played.

And so every strum, every note, every practice that I do practise is for you, Mom.  I will write some songs for you, to tell the world about you, and to also connect to you. Whether it’s with my guitar, with my keyboard, with just my voice or a combination of them. Or even if it’s just with my heart, I am going to make this music reach you somehow. I have to.

If you have been near me, especially in the past few days, you would have felt the surge of hope and energy and light I felt at reading this new book Crescendo, by Amy Weiss, I heard about through the Hay House World Summit.

It is precisely about this- about the power of music to transcend life and death. That there is no death, just transformation, and many lives.  It’s a beautiful story, Mom. I want to believe that you are at peace, and flying and free and resting, resting from the pains and worries and heartache that you may have felt in this life.  I want to believe you are always with me, but without any fear or hurt or regret or worry.  I want to believe I will see you again and again. And I wish that I could give a copy of this book to everyone around me.

And you know what the character’s name in the story turns out to be, right? Aria. Somehow, I don’t think this is any coincidence, not just for the musical themes in this book. Of course, that was intentional. But also that we have an Aria in our lives, in our family.  But I’ll save that for a whole other entry. A whole other story or maybe even a whole other life.  Many lives even. 🙂

I love you, Mom.

Thanks for the music, for making me believe I can create my own songs. All I want to do is to reach you through some of the magical notes, chords, sounds and silences.  I hope you can hear them, hear me, and feel me.  I just need to know you are okay, that you are well, that you are taken cared of and at peace.

Every song and melody and note is for you.

Love, always and forever,

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.

 

Little Rookie

Dear Mom,

I had a t-shirt that said “Little Rookie” on it. Why do I remember that? I barely remember anything from my childhood. But that, for some reason, has stuck out to me for all these years.

I don’t remember exactly what the t-shirt looked like. I imagine it to be kind of a Tom-boyish t-shirt. Something sporty like a character riding a bike or playing soccer on it.  Or maybe I am just making that part up.  I don’t know. But I do know that the words “Little Rookie” were definitely sprawled across the front of it.

I am assuming you bought that t-shirt for me.  Do you remember where you got it? Zellers? 🙂  It was around that age, I think, when you worked at Zellers.  What was that like, being there at work?  Who did you work with? Sam Uncle?  Did you like going to work every day?  Were there regular customers who knew you?  What was your favorite part of the job?  What did you really hate about it?  Why did I never ask you these questions while you were here? Maybe I did, but things have become so cloudy for me.  I know you also used to say that you wished you could remember more about our childhood and growing up.  But you had a lot to do, Mom.  That was too much to remember.

Besides, it is not the details of the days that passed that were important. It was the feeling. And I want you to know that you always made us feel loved and taken cared of.  I know you went to work each day to take care of us. I know you wanted to spend that time with us more.  But you were an extraordinary mom. You did everything- you were the breadwinner, the nurturer, the caretaker, the father, the protector, the cook and the teacher. You taught us a lot, mom, through your actions, through your love, through your energy. The kind of energy only a loving mother could give.

That has stuck with me, and will continue to stick with me forever. There were some words you used as nicknames for me. One of them was “Rook”.  Was that some kind of term of endearment used in our culture? Or where did it come from?  I was going to say What does it mean. But sometimes, a meaning like a definition doesn’t seem so necessary when a feeling comes across from it more strongly. Sometimes, the feeling is more important. So “Rook” took on its own meaning to me.  I could feel the love and tenderness you were putting across through the word or name. It made me feel very special. It had a special quality to it.

So the combination of that and the Little Rookie t-shirt made Rookie stand out in my mind and heart a lot.  You calling me “Rook” didn’t have anything to do with the t-shirt did it? Or did you buy the t-shirt because you called me “Rook”?  I am assuming it was only a coincidence.

But it stayed with me. That word. And the phrase “Little Rookie”.  So much so that in the past, I was using it for several years for passwords on various accounts I signed up for online.  It’s funny how these things get embedded without us knowing it, right?

And so… the other day, when I was driving and again was struck by the license plate I noticed on another parked car (you know by now, this has been happening to me often), you can understand even more now why I wondered.  I wondered if you again had anything to do with it. Or maybe the Universe planted it there to pass on a message from you to me.

The license plate said ROOKIE.

I stared at it and then, as I have done in the past, I went around the corner and came back to that car. Stopped in a place where I could get out of my car and could take a picture of the plate.  It was like I wanted to show it to someone. To have “proof” that it really showed up.  But then I wanted to ask someone if it was just a coincidence or a real sign. And I had no one to ask. No one that I would believe maybe anyway, because how would they prove that they knew?

I guess, once again, it’s all about belief. What we want to believe and what we don’t want to believe.

I don’t know what I believe in these situations anymore. But what I do know, and I’ve said this before, is that I will just break myself down if I don’t believe in something, in these possible moments of magic, between me, and you and the Universe.

Will I ever know the answers even at the end of my life? I am trying to live my life for you, Mom. But I can’t help with all the questions.  I hope one day, there are answers, and the answers prove that all these ‘coincidences’ I see and feel have not been coincidences at all. But just proof that my mom is happy and at peace. And that a mother’s love never dies. And my mom just wanted to sparkle each of my days with a little message from her telling me that she is somewhere beautiful, being taken cared of. So there is nothing for me to worry about.

Love always, your Little Rookie- Rook (Ruk, or Ruku) You always had variations on it. And I loved them all.

Tas

 

…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.

Our Father

Dear Mom,

So our dad died over the weekend. But I guess you know that. I hope you do. Because maybe that means that you are doing well, and can help him pass through to ‘the other side,’ if that is even how it is referred to ‘up there’.  All these directions- up there, pass through, other side.  Is this even a direction thing? It’s just an energy thing, right. Not just, but you know what I mean.  Maybe there are no directions just spaces filled in the afterlife. No up and down or back and forth. But just around and within. Around us, within us.  Filling and energizing all of life all around us. Who knows?

I wondered why R asked me if I had walked to Steamrollers, when I told him, over the phone, that I was getting food. I realize now that he was just checking to make sure that I wasn’t driving when he gave me the news. Smart brother I have there, you know? Of course you know.

It was a very matter of fact conversation over the phone. Because how else can it be? I wanted to cry, but he was calling from Hawaii, and we don’t have that kind of relationship anyway.  Maybe that’s a good thing. One of us needs to be strong on the outside, and you know it is definitely not me.

But I cried after I got off the phone. I looked up at the sky, as I stood on the corner of Robson and Bute, and wondered if I am really here. Are any of us really here? I mean, this all feels surreal. Like we are on a movie set. But the thing is, we don’t know the plot or even our lines most of the time. We are just given them as each moment comes. And it’s confusing when it’s not the way you thought the story was going to go.  Shakespeare was right. “All the world is a stage.”  It’s just that some days, I feel like I’ve fallen off of even that.

I think these moments of someone calling to finally say that line you know he is going to say, “And he didn’t make it,” are the moments where I am forced to step off the stage and look at it all from the outside in.  And then I wonder how R felt when he got the call too. I know he loved his dad, in his own way. We just didn’t know him.  It’s a weird feeling.

Did you know that just a few months ago, maybe last year, or something like that, I learned that our dad didn’t have parents? I mean, of course he HAD parents, but he didn’t know them. He said they died when he was young. And he doesn’t know exactly how they died. A cousin or young family member took care of our dad and his siblings. But they didn’t have much. And it was too overwhelming for the cousin. Maybe too much responsibility. And the cousin decided to take his own life.

Did you know this about our dad, Mom? You never told us.  When I found out, I was so confused. Because I had gone out to Khane that day, in Burnaby, specifically knowing I was going to go out and seek out my dad. He was normally there and I had some things to say to him. Some not so nice things, after you passed away.

He first asked me how I was, and I said not good. My mom just died.  And that’s how the conversation about his parents came up. He just brought it up.  He said, “Well, at least you had all these years with your mom.  I didn’t even know my parents.”  Jeez, Mom.  Many things started to make sense from just those few words. Of course our dad didn’t know how to be a dad. He not only didn’t have a dad to raise him, but he didn’t have parents to raise him at all. No one to love him and show him that he was valued and cared for and that he needs to believe in himself.  He didn’t have an all in one set of parents like I did- a mom and dad in one little, strong woman- you.  I was lucky, Mom. I was so lucky to have you.

But the thing is that’s what I had on my mind. Here he was, my dad trying to just open up to me in that moment and finally tell me something about himself. But I had you on my heart. So I was mad- about why he couldn’t have been there for you. Why he made you do everything yourself. He said that he tried to stay in touch, but we didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with him. We were kids, I said to him. You’re the adult! What did you want us to do?

It was a stupid argument, Mom. I realize that I shouldn’t have said all of that without knowing his story and where he came from. But I wanted to finally stand up for you. I wanted somehow to make things better for you by standing up for what you deserved, to let him know that you had a hard life trying to do everything yourself.  But that you still did such a wonderful job of it. But you know what? I think I just made things worse for him.  It probably broke his heart to hear me say those things.

I tried calling him the next day to apologize.  His sister answered. She had no clue what I was saying or who I was. She kept me on the phone forever, trying to figure out why I was calling for him. And finally, she gave him the phone. I tried apologizing. I thanked him for telling me the story of how his parents weren’t around and how his other family member who was taking care of him died by suicide. I tried telling him about my work with teaching highschool kids about suicide awareness and stress management. He didn’t seem interested. Or maybe he wasn’t feeling good.  I even thanked him for marrying you so that we could be born. But I think I said something like it allowed us to have the mom we had. And maybe I didn’t acknowledge his value or his part in all of it. No, I definitely didn’t.

I don’t know what was going on on the other line, but he didn’t say much at all. He almost seemed upset or annoyed, and tried to just get me off of the phone. And I felt emptier after that phone call than before I called. And of course, he never called back.

A couple of months later, or less, I went back to that Khane in Burnaby. I brought a black and white photo of you and our dad with me, to give to him. I thought he might want to see it. You both looked so happy and he was looking at you so lovingly.  Maybe it was also kind of going to be my peace offering. A step in reconciliation. But he wasn’t there. No one knew where he was. I was going to leave the photo with someone there, someone who said he knew my dad and could pass it on to him. But I didn’t give it to the guy. I wasn’t sure what the best thing to do would be.  I thought I should try again another day, so that I could give it to my dad in person and explain why I was bringing it to him. But I never did.

I thought about it many times, but I wanted him to make some effort too. I mean, I might be an adult, but he is still older and is still the dad. Maybe I was being stubborn. I agree with my friend Agata who yesterday allowed me to see that maybe I was still feeling like the little girl who wanted answers. It wasn’t that I didn’t care or didn’t want to be considerate. But there is still this little girl inside me, his daughter, that wanted to know why.  But I was too late, or didn’t try hard enough.

I know deep down inside, that I might have really been able to at least end things on a better note, that I could have come to better understand my dad if I had just asked him more positive questions like, “Were you ever in love with my mom?” And “Tell me the story of how you two met.”  But something stopped me from starting there.  I had so much pain in me over losing you, Mom. I wanted to first know how he could make such a loving, beautiful woman like yourself do everything alone. Even if you pushed him away, even if he didn’t have any money or was going through health problems, even if he thought we were not wanting to get to know him. I just love you so much, Mom. And I feel like your life would have been so different with more help from him, from all of us, maybe. Maybe this is just more about me, and my guilt of not doing enough for you. It’s like I am looking for other people to blame.

But look where it has gotten me? Another sad ending with another parent. Sure, he wasn’t the caregiver who gave us unconditional love and support the way you did. But he was still my dad. So… that feeling of the way I left things off on such a bad note is still crushing.  I wonder if I didn’t put more effort into sorting it out because, if I didn’t have the perfect ending with you, I didn’t want it to be a great ending with him. Stupid, isn’t it? But there was a part of me that always felt like I would somehow be a traitor to you if I went to my dad to find out more about him or to form a relationship with him. I wouldn’t have known how to. And I don’t think it would have felt comfortable. But I didn’t really try, so who knows.

Do you think he passed away not long after you because he really loved you? I mean, you hear about couples who were together for so many years and then one dies, and just months later, the other dies.

I know you didn’t have a loving relationship, and you ended things so many years ago on a really bad note. But, someone in our family, just after your passed away, told me that he felt that our dad loved you very much.  It makes sense to me in that even though he might not have been a good support or a healthy partner for you, how could he not love you? How could anyone not have loved you?

I wonder if your death, despite all the distance between you two for all these years, diminished him. Depleted his health and energy more.  I’m sure what I said to him didn’t help. And I feel badly for that. But do you think, when he crosses over to the other side, that maybe he will be very happy to see you? Maybe you two will be able to reconcile your differences and see things more clearly from each other’s point of view.

I was always on your side, Mom. Don’t worry about that.  But it’s kind of sad that I even felt I had to take a side.  It made things very complicated and confusing for me, not just as a kid. I don’t actually remember those years much. But more as an adult, who wanted to resolve those childhood issues.  And now,  I can’t ask either one of you about your relationship.

Maybe you guys can find a way to relay the story to me from wherever you are now. You might not be together, which is totally understandable and fine. But maybe you both have a way of reaching us now in a way that wasn’t there before.

I love you, Mom. Thanks for being my mother and father.  It was a tough job, I know.

And because of the loving mother that you were and are, I know you would have probably wanted me to resolve things with my father in a more loving way than I did.  I am sorry I did not pull through on that one. But please tell him that I am grateful for both of you bringing me and my brother into this life.  And we will do our best to take care of each other.

Love always and forever,

Tas

Awakening

Dear Mom,

It’s happening more. You know, the license plates and the 11:11’s and the serendipitous moments. Do you have a hand in this?

I know I used to believe in all of this before you passed away. I hate using those words, by the way.  But the shock of you falling and weakening and scared and in pain, and then just being gone, made me so angry at the world, at the Universe, and at God. I just felt like this is NOT the way it was supposed to happen. None of it made sense. Everything was going wrong in that month in terms of me being there for you. I felt like I was losing time with you, even then. But I had no idea there would not be any time left. It just kills my heart and soul to think about that. Most of the time, I don’t have to think about it though. It just kind of sits heavy in me constantly.

But this is the thing. There are some days, some moments, some magical kinds of happenings that have been taking place more and more  lately that make me think there has to be someone really taking care of you up there. Because something is taking care of me, in the most odd, but also unexpected and exciting ways. Is it you?  Are you making that Tas and Tea and now the Awaken license plates appear???

It’s not that I am even looking for them. I mean, that car yesterday- the second one in a few months where the license plate actually said Tea, it was parked, along a road I wasn’t evening walking. I was just driving, and turning a corner. And IT caught the corner of my eye. I thought I must have imagined it. So I kept driving. But then I thought, no no. I need to know. So I went all the way through some alleys to get back to that same spot. And there it was, sure enough, Tea. And not just TEA, but double 07 TEA. It’s like it was the James Bond of Tea- 007.  Mom, are you heightening your sense of humour up there? Because seriously, that was pretty clever.  Haha!

I don’t know if you even liked James Bond. I think you did, though, didn’t you?

And the funny thing is that tea license plate and car were in a completely different area of Vancouver than the other one I saw a few months ago. I’m not sure if they were the same car…

Oh my God. I just checked the other license plate that I took a picture of previously, that said TEA on it. And they are not even the same cars, or the same license plates.  Mom, this is so fascinating, spooky, and kind of freeing all at the same time.

But the clincher was AWAKEN. Yeah, you heard me, AWAKEN, on a friggin license plate. But here’s the thing. I was driving along Pacific Street later at night. So it was dark. You know there aren’t a lot of lights there. Maybe the roads are lit up a bit with the traffic lights if there are any. But not the parked areas near the sidewalks. And so I should really not have been able to see this license plate. It was not even from here. It was an Alberta plate, I think. So it was written in red, against the white background, rather than black. So it looked even darker than a normal license plate- less contrast.

I was driving, not even turning anywhere near the corner where that AWAKEN car was parked. But again, it was like my subconscious caught it, not my ‘waking’ mind. Haha! Oh, the irony.

But something IN me caught it. And I could have just kept driving on home. Not knowing for sure whether I imagined it. But once again, I went back. This time, I had to wind through those closed off and one way streets, typical of the west end, to get back to that car. But I did, and yup, AWAKEN it did say. I had to take a picture to prove it, more to myself than anyone else.

Does it mean I am going through an awakening? Or is it telling me I need to awaken to something I’m not seeing or understanding?

Because I have been feeling so many shifts more recently. Spiritually, emotionally, and ‘serendipitously’.  I still think I imagine them sometimes. But they are growing so much, sometimes a few happening in one day, or a matter of just a few hours, rather than a few in a couple of weeks or in a couple of months.

It’s stronger now, Mom. It all feels more powerful.  I almost am getting to the point where I expect them to happen, or maybe I am less surprised that they happen. It’s just becoming a part of my ‘norm’.

I’d like to think it’s not an angry force telling me I am on the wrong path. That I need to awaken, and get my head out of the thoughts or path I am currently on.  That instead, the license plate couldn’t have fit the word  AWAKENING on it. That’s too many letters. So it just fit in it what it could, hoping that I would get the message. That I am going through an opening, of heart and soul, and that I am being taken cared of, that YOU are being taken cared of most importantly. And that you and the Universe are just reminding me to continue with the path I am on. That mistakes have not been made. That there is a bigger purpose to this that will be revealed to me at a later date.

I don’t know. It’s hard to know what is reality, and what is make believe anymore.

Someone that came into my life recently shared a story with me yesterday. He said the Buddha was asked what is reality? And the Buddha, in response, just smiled.

It’s like that, isn’t it, Mom? It’s just like a not knowing. A creating of what we believe is real or not.  Well, I have to say that at first, thought I might be in shock when I see these very unexpected signs, I do smile after. Something in my heart smiles, hoping, wishing, that it is you. That they are messages from my mom.

Love you.
Tas