On Mother’s Day

20190512_173309.jpgDear Mom,

This year, on Mother’s Day, I felt like I was procrastinating so much on what I had planned to do, which was to go to the cemetery and visit your grave stone. I wanted to get up, just eat some breakfast, buy some flowers, and head out as soon as I could, to spend the day “with you” or “for you.”

I showered and ate, but ended up puttering around getting things “done” that were so not important that I don’t even remember anymore what they were.

And I got really mad at myself about this. It felt the same way that I felt when you were here and I would tell you that I was going to come and see you or I had planned to do something for you. I just could never get around to doing it as soon as I wanted, or to be on time, or to get things done as well as I wanted for you.

And I think I have almost hated myself for that. I mean, you were and still are the most important person to me in my life. Yet, I would “put you off” sometimes without ever meaning to and I don’t really know why or how that would happen. I would give you a time I was going to come and see you, and then be super late. I would finally get to your place, and not be as attentive as I wanted to to your needs. Or I would be attentive but things would fall apart, and not go as I had hoped. None of this was your doing. I just couldn’t seem to get things together and I could never figure out why. You should have always come first. You were first in my heart but it didn’t always come out that way in my deeds. And I keep wanting to apologise so profusely for that. I am sorry, Mom.

And then here I was, doing it again, even after you have passed away. I just couldn’t seem to get myself together to get to the cemetery “on time.”

Things kept happening to “get in the way”, or maybe I was letting things get in the way, I thought.

But then again, sometimes, timing is a funny thing. Maybe it really isn’t all in our hands, and sometimes, that might be a good thing. Like maybe God or the Universe has a whole other agenda of timing set out for us, to have us encounter other “unplanned” things, uplanned by us at least. But maybe the plan is all set out by a greater force that knows way better what he is doing, and way better what is good for us.

This is what I mean:

I was getting side tracked. Looking for the ”perfect” flower, gearing myself up for the right mood. I even said yes to an acquaintance who I ran into in the little grocery story mall down the street from my place. She asked if she could bring over a candle she made for me to use in memory of you, when she heard that I was heading to the cemetery.

Her daughter was sick, and she was getting some soup for her. But her eyes became all watery when I told her about you. I didn’t realize she had also lost her mom. And she sounded like she felt a little guilty for not bringing flowers to her mother’s grave stone.

We both wallowed in our guilt for a bit while also trying to get each other to see the other side of things. Me assuring her that she had her own daughter to take care of and her mother would have wanted her to do that. And her trying to remind me that my mom would want me to take care of myself and would appreciate my efforts. I still felt guilty.

And I didn’t know if I should feel worse for delaying the time I would get to the cemetery even more now because I would go home and wait for this acquaintance to come by after she saw to her daughter.  It was a sweet gesture though. And as I walked to my place, I thought that I should give her something too. That’s what you would have done. So I gave her this sweet little illustrated book on grief therapy that Renee had given me just after you passed way. A colleague of hers gave it to her to pass on to me. So here I was planning to pass it on as well.

We exchanged our little gifts just outside my place, and then I finally set out to “meet you.” Or,  you know what I mean. To bring you the yellow roses I picked out for you, and the cute little yellow flowered plant I was hoping to put on Mama’s grave too.

My drive there was a bit longer because later in the day, the traffic was busier. But it was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny. So opposite to the last time I had been to the cemetery when the snow hadn’t melted and I couldn’t find your grave stone. And then I fell and bruised and scraped my knee and ripped my jeans. Did I tell you about that? It’s okay. Maybe I’ll save it for another time, or maybe it’s not important anymore.

Maybe it was just the contrast that was and is important now. On Mother’s Day, it kind of felt “heavenly” at the cemetery. By the time I had gotten there, many people must have already visited their mother’s gravestones earlier, because the cemetery just looked much more full of colourful, vibrant, newly placed flowers. And noticed that many of them were yellow- yours, Mama’s and my favorite colour.

I spoke to you at your gravestone for a bit. I might have even planted myself there for a short time. But I couldn’t sit still. I was crying through my words, asking if you could please give me a really clear sign that you are okay. I also was apologizing for being late, not just that day but for any days that I made you wait, including when you were in the hospital and I didn’t come out there right away every day. And I was sorry if you had already given me signs and I just wasn’t believing in them or missing them.

20190512_173431.jpgI looked around and felt around. I think I might have seen some crows and other birds come by. The little stream of water area near your gravestone was flowing again now, and the tree above it had grown vibrant  leaves again. It looked alive and happy. I could only hope that you have that kind of happy and peacefulness in you now too. But I still didn’t know. I laid down the yellow roses at an angle across the top part of your grave.

And then I got into the car and drove to where I learned from last time was Mama’s gravestone. Yours is in Brookside and Mama’s is further down in Benediction. In case any family members read this years later, Mama’s is 11 spots down from the Creekside Mausoleum buildings (11 spots east of those buildings. Of course it’s exactly 11 spots in. That lucky, magical number). And it is about 14 spots North from the Meadows area, I think.

Anyway, I finally found it and had the pot of flowers to put on it. And I decided to speak to Mama. I thanked her for all she did for us. At least that was what I was thinking about. But more than that, I thanked her for you. For having you, and for giving me the best mom ever. Of course, I know you had the best mom too, and I had the best grandma. 🙂

But then I reminded her that I have felt her presence over the years since she passed away. Somehow, I believe in her peace. Maybe because I knew her for less time, or maybe because it has been so long that over time, the signs were just more “felt” somehow. But I told her I was still worried about you and I needed a big, BIG sign that you were okay.

I am sure I was crying, again, through my words.

i just stood there, and maybe ended up looking around, “aimlessly”.  And then I heard someone yell out, “Laila, what are you doing? Laila, come back here.” I looked around. There was a huge Arab looking family behind me but off in the distance. They were in the Benediction part of the cemetery but not very close.

There was a little girl running around between the space where I was and the area where the family of around 10 people or more were standing.

Girl in grass3

I couldn’t believe that of all names, it was your name again that came up. And you know why I say again, right?

There was another time, a couple of years ago at least, when I went to the cemetery to visit your gravestone. And in another area, closer to where your grave is, on the way there, I saw a small family of about 4 people sitting on a beach type mat, on their loved ones grave stone. They looked like they were having a picnic, and were eating “with” their loved one who was no longer with them physically. But they made that person a part of their sitting in a way.

There was a smaller little girl with them at the time. And she was just make circles around them. I know that they definitely called out Laila to her. I was closer to where they stood than this other bigger family. So back then, I heard clearly that the little girl was named Laila. But I dismissed it as coincidence back then. I also almost took it in as a sad sign- a reminder that you were once a little Laila yourself, a little child. And that broke my heart thinking of how that child needed to be honored more, empathized with more, and so did you the adult Laila need more support and love and kindness.

But for it to happen again? Your name being called out again, of all names, for the second time, while I was at the cemetery asking for a sign? That seemed unbelievable. It couldn’t be coincidence.

Maybe I just wanted it to be true? Maybe I just made myself hear YOUR name in particular, because I wanted a sign? I was kind of far from the older girl who was yelling out to this little girl. So it was possible I heard the name incorrectly.

The big family was still standing around. And the little girl was still running around so I moved in closer to them, pretending to want to find another grave stone.

I got close enough to know that this time, when or if I heard the name being called, I would be able to hear it clearly.

And sure enough, the older girl yelled out what I think was her sister’s name, as the family were starting to move towards the car and head out.
“Laila! Laila! Come on. Let’s go!”

And I looked back at Mama’s gravestone and smiled through tears and thanked her. I said, if that was your doing, and that was my sign from you, thank you.

20190512_173309.jpg

It was so beautiful the way this little Laila was running around so freely with her long dark hair flowing in the wind, and her little brown booties twirling her around as if the cemetery was not a place of dying but a playground of magic and joy.

I hoped and hope that that is the freedom and joy and playfulness that you get to experience now.

I did go back to your gravestone, and I told you about this whole situation. I thanked you if that was your sign, and apologized if I am dismissing too many signs and frustrating you over it.

I can’t tell. Maybe I just needed your mother’s help to make me see things clearly, or clearer, because my tie to you is so strong and so deeply emotional. Maybe it blurs my ability to make space and see and feel fully your messages.

And maybe, just maybe, this time, I was not exactly too late. Maybe I was just in time… and all those instances that happened before I actually headed to the cemetery were put in my path intentionally. Because perhaps if I had gotten there any earlier or later, I would have missed little Laila, my sign from you and Mama, that my Laila is doing just fine.

Maybe. I can only hope, and wish, and pray. That’s what I do every day.

Love you, Mom. I hope you liked the yellow roses.

Advertisements

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Good Mother

Dear Mom,

I have a new prayer song I sing at Karaoke. For you. To you. It’s called Good Mother and it’s by one of my favorite singer -songwriters- Jann Arden. She’s Canadian.  She is really funny and great in live concerts.

Imother's hand used to really like the song Good Mother when you were here, physically (saying “when you were alive” just hurts my heart).  But afterwards, it felt like I was lying when I was singing that song- tricking people, including myself, that my mother is still around, because the words are in the present tense.

And it was this one line in particular that would choke me up- “and her voice is what keeps me here.” I couldn’t finish that line ever, once you passed away.  It felt like a reminder to me of how crazy and painful it is to be living when you are not.

So I put it aside as a song I wouldn’t be singing.  I don’t remember what it was recently, however, that made me want to sing it again. I don’t know if I heard someone else sing it, or someone mention it.  But I was trying, line by line, to get through. And I’m sure that “killer” line for me was scary for me to approach each time.

But the more I sang it, the more I felt the truth of it.  I mean, I DO have a good mother. I have had a good mother. The best mother I could have ever asked for. And if all this stuff about life after death is true, I still have a good mother, just in a different form. It’s still you. No one could ever replace you, as I’ve said time and again in my other posts.  And I have to remember that it is your voice that keeps me here. I am trying to believe and trust and hope that it’s not just the words of your voice that I remember- from past memories- that keep me here. But words from you that I hope to hear presently and in the future. New words from you, because I want to feel that you still speak to me through all that time and space.  I want to believe that my mom is still here with me.

So in that case, it is not unbelievable that I am still living even though my mom has passed away. With this new way of thinking for me, this new perspective, it is in fact the reason that I am able to live on, after you passed away. The reason I am able to keep here, “feet on ground, heart in hand,” is because of my mother’s voice. It has to still be with me. She has to still be with me. You still must be with me if I can keep on going and growing and learning and living. This is what I have to believe.

So on most days when I am out at karaoke, I start the night with Good Mother.  I imagine singing it to you. And I hope that you can hear my prayer to you.  My thanks to you. My undying gratitude- yes, pun intended- for having you as a mother. Not in the past, but in the past, present and future. Forever and always. You are the best mom I will always have. Thank you for keeping me dreaming and grounded, balanced, and feeling loved.

Each time I sing the song, I try to let those two lines- “I’ve got a goooood mother. And her mothers handvoice is what keeps me here” – ring out louder, richer, and prouder. I’m still working on getting it better. I need to sing it without wavering or cracking from over emotion or sadness. I need to get to the point where it is powerful and resonant from utter gratitude and love.  I need to get to the point where I sing it so deeply and strongly that I feel you feeling it.

I am tired of the people who tell me that I need to move on and let it go. This is not some breakup with a boyfriend or a silly romance. THIS IS MY MOTHER. I am not putting that behind me, because she is with me, every step of the way. She has to be.  She is not my past or something to move on from. She is my whole being. And I am taking her with me, respectfully. Not to hold her back or take away her freedom. But to allow us both to soar. And to let her know she will never ever be forgotten.

Love you, Mom.

She Used To Be Mine

Dear Mom,

waitress-a-r-t-jessie-mueller.jpgI went to see the musical Waitress over the weekend. It is a stage adaptation of the movie Waitress which I guess came out a long time ago, or awhile ago. I never saw it and can’t find it on Netflix.  I started using Netflix after you passed away. Sorry. If I had figure it out before, I would have shown you how to use it.

Anyway, the reason I went all the way to Seattle to see this show is because

1) It didn’t look like it was coming to Canada, or at least not to Vancouver.

2) One of my all time favourite singer/songwriters Sara Bareilles wrote the music for it.

3) She Used to Be Mine- one of the songs in the musical.

I’ve been singing Sara Bareilles’ songs now for sometime.  Her lyrics and compositions are so unique and full of memorable images and pauses, and syncopations and she has a beautiful voice.  I love how every song really says something. I mean, the something is always profound, or playful, or poignant or all of the above.  I feel changed after going through the stories in her lyrics and music.

But in particular, “She Use To Be Mine” gripped me almost from the first note, but definitely from the first few phrases.  I first heard it at a live concert of Sara Bareilles’. My roommate Karen and I went to see the concert in Seattle a few years ago.  At that time, you were still around, and the song still spoke to me, gripped my heart, and made me catch my breath a little. It made me sad, and happy, and feeling alive and inspired, but also pained and empathetic as well- towards the subject of the song or to myself, I don’t know.

It was explained to us at that time that Sara Bareilles wrote the song for the musical, and that the musical would be out in a couple of years. It was also explained to us that the song came about because the character in the play is pregnant, but she doesn’t want to have the baby. She is with a guy who doesn’t treat her well, and she doesn’t have a good paying job or much stability. So she feels like she has nothing to offer the child, and also seems to miss the person she thought she would become.

So at that time, the “She used to be mine” chorus made sense to me as Sara Bareilles meant it- that the person who was the dreamer and beauty, and go getter used to be a part of the main character. I think her name was Jenna. But that Jenna was mourning her passing- as if that part of her had gone and died. Was no longer there. As Sara Bareilles said in her concert- it is a concept and feeling we can all probably relate to- when something in our lives passes over us, and we don’t look or act or have the time to be or do that thing anymore that used to be such a part of us.

I fell in love with the song instantly, and when I got back to Vancouver, I wanted to sing it. I learned it and kept practising it. And something in it always brought me to tears, whether I heard it, was singing along with it, or just singing it on my own.

But after you passed away, I couldn’t say the chorus lines anymore without just breaking down.  The “She used to be mine” line made me think that I was somehow referring to you, especially when I had to sing the whole line, “She is gone but she used to be mine.”

I found out recently that one of the karaoke places I go to often has that song available for people to sing. So I started singing it again. I try to imagine that I am singing it for you, or to you, or to tell people about you.

But there is a change that I make in mind when it comes to the song and the lyrics.  Whether I imagine the “she” who is gone to be a part of me or to be you, I don’t allow myself to believe the “used to be mine” part.  You are still mine and will always be mine, mom.  As I have written to you before, no one can ever take your place. No one can every be or try to be my mom. You are the only mom I want, the only one I had, and the only one I still have. There is no “used to”. You are still mine. My mother.  I hope you know that. I hope you know that I never forget about you and never will.

In the play, the main character ends up loving her daughter the moment she was born, and deciding to take care of her on her own. She doesn’t want the father to be around because she knows that he is selfish and doesn’t know how to love the woman let alone a child.  And I thought it was so beautiful but also so sad, how selfless this woman becomes to give her all to her child.  Without any help.

She would speak to the baby when she was in her stomach. Dear baby, she would say.  She would tell the baby her fears but also her dreams for the baby, that she wished that she could give her everything.

I know you were that kind of mom, but you didn’t have to tell me what you hoped to give me. You just did it.  I don’t know how. And it breaks my heart a little every day to think of how much you sacrificed for me. How there may have been so many parts of you that went away or had to go because you ended up putting me first, putting both of your kids first.

So I feel like apologizing and thank you all at the same time. I am sorry for all the things you had to do day in and day out to keep us safe, and cared for, and fed and loved, when sometimes that meant you didn’t have the time or energy to give that same caring and love to yourself.  Thank you, Mommy for having me, for caring for me, for sacrificing for me, for standing up for me and keeping me protected and happy.

In the play, the main character’s mom has already passed away. But she was taught to make pies from her, and so she continues to do so- talking about some of her mom’s favourite pie flavours.

What would I choose as a pie name for you? Sweet, Laila Mama pie?  Whatever it is, it could never capture all that you were and are to me.  I don’t know how to ever repay you for all that you have done for me. I wish I had done more to show you how grateful I was for you during the time you were here. Please give me signs as to what I can do now for you. I know it is not the same, but I want to try.  I cried so much in the play- for not being able to tell you all that I want to now.  For not having mother daughter moments with you anymore. Is there a way to still have different kinds?- that surpass time and space? I need my mom still, and always will.

 

Vicks

mother and daughter6

Dear Mom,

I think I suddenly got some sort of cold. I was fine yesterday, but then at the end of the night and this morning, I felt so tired, with a runny nose, and a bit of a scratchiness and cough in my throat.

I reached for the Vick Vapo Rub of course.  It’s strange how such a small bottle, and the smell from it, can bring back so much sweetness, and love but also sadness and sorrow.

Vicks, and just that smell, makes me think of how I had such a loving mom- you- who took care of me when I was sick, no matter what age I was.  Even though I got frustrated over you “babying” me at those times, God, what I wouldn’t do to have you do that for me again.

I am sorry if I ever gave you a hard time over caring the way you did. It was such gift I was given- to have you as a mom, to have you take the time to rub Vicks on my throat and forehead and nose.  And your hands. Vicks conjures up the feel and look of your beautiful, soft hands, oozing love through every finger. Giving me your healing and warmth and motherly magic.

mother and daughter2

So I wish I could go back to those days, to appreciate them more. And more than that, I wish I could go back to them to tell you how very much they meant to me, how much you meant to me, and still do. And I wish I could give you back that same tenderness, and caring and time.  You spent so much time with me- as much as was needed to help me through, especially when I got sick.

The soups, the hurder (tumeric), and blankets, and tea and your hand on my forehead. Everything soothed me right into my core, into my heart. And so when I think of you lying there in the hospital, and me not being able to give you back that soothing and comfort, it tears me apart.

Vicks brings me back a warmth and smiles- the tenderest of memories of the most love I received, and will receive, from any human being ever. But it also breaks my heart and brings me to tears because that love is gone. Or the love isn’t gone, but the touches and what I can see and hear- your voice unlike no other and the words you chose that no one else could. Even the way you said my name.

mother and daughter5

The thought of if already brings a ache in my throat. And this is not from a cold, but from grief. From anger, from pain, from losing you. But mostly from not being able to help you the way you helped me. I am so sorry, Mom.  I wish I could have brought you a bottle of Vicks and put my hand on your forehead, and make everything magically better, the way you always were able to do for me.

I keep being told you are no longer in pain.  But the people who tell me this are here, alive. So how do they know what you are going through? I need to see and feel it for myself.  Please give me more signs.  I still, after 3 and a half years, don’t feel it- your peace.

Please reach out and tell me or show me that you are okay.  Please.

YOUR favor

live-life-as-if-its-in-your-favor

I used to love this kind of thinking, and I can believe it for myself. I mean, right from the start, everything WAS rigged in my favor. I got you as a mom. That is absolute proof right there.

And I still experience so much goodness, and “luck” and beautiful happenings that make me feel so grateful and loved.

But what makes me angry is that I feel like everything wasn’t rigged in your favor. That’s what I wanted.  Because you deserved everything in your favor more than anyone else.  It makes me so sad how the string of events, especially at the end of your life, felt like they were completely opposite to being in your favor. Why did it happen like this?

Why to you? You deserved everything going your way. You helped all of us stay safe, loved, and cared for.  It should have been given back to you many times over.

Maybe there is so much in this that I don’t see, that this was all for the good of you, that there were things behind the scenes that were happening that were for the best, the best for you. But I don’t see it. And I don’t know if or when I ever will. Because we just don’t know. We just didn’t know.

And I’m sorry I didn’t know, Mom. I’m sorry I didn’t know how to turn things around for you.  I wish I did. I wish I still could.

I hope that somehow, everything is so rigged in your favor now that you are enjoying every moment, peacefully, happily, without any pain, without any worry, without any struggle. Just lightness, just love, just sweetness and warmth and safety. Forever taken cared of. It is how you made me feel, how your love made me feel, always. It still is.

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

You, Me and the Fireworks

Hi Mom,

The first set of fireworks for this summer are about to start. I heard the tester ones just shoot up a few minutes ago. Tonight, Japan is being featured.

I am at home, in my ‘new’ little studio apartment. It’s not that new. But I guess I feel like it would be new to you because you’ve never physically been in it. I still wonder if you’ve ever been in it otherwise.  I hope so.

I don’t actually have to go anywhere to watch the fireworks. I can literally sit or even lie on my bed, and I have the best view of them.

I wasn’t even planning to stay home today. I had other plans. But I have had a really bad head and neck ache since last night.  So I cancelled everything and decided to stay close to home.

Maybe, deep down inside, the only person I would really want to watch the fireworks with right now is you.

I know I never took you to see them, all the years you would call me and ask me if I was going. And I’m scared that you thought that I was going, with my friends or other people besides you, but that I just didn’t want to take you. That is not true at all. I never actually went to see the fireworks myself. Especially when I lived in North Van, which was most of my adult years.

I like the memories of going to the beach when I was younger, going to downtown to watch the fireworks. But I also remember being annoyed by the crowds and crazy traffic and I’m not really into hanging out in big crowds. I don’t know if you knew that about me. I figure that as much as you might have thought you wanted to go see the fireworks, that walking through those crowds would be hard for you too.

But I should have asked you. I should have tried to make it work for you. I should have found another way we could have seen them together, even if we had to sit in the car, or just be somewhere away from all the rest of the people.

So tonight, I think about you. I imagine us watching the fireworks together. Maybe you are watching from above, so as I look up towards the sky, and all the magical colours that will come sparkling down from each burst, I might see or feel something of you up there. Or at least maybe you will see me looking up towards you.

Did I tell you A. asked if that is where she should look if she ‘talks’ to you? It was the cutest thing. We went out for her birthday, and I had this scavenger hunt list of things to do. Some were little things like eat something sweet, or find out someone’s name, or cloud watch. (Oh, wait! We never got a chance to do that one! I’ll have to remember it for another time).  But one of the ‘hunts’ on the list was to invite Laila Mama (you:–)) to this day.  And she was adorable. I was a little afraid that she might find it weird. I don’t think she did. Instead, she smiled and looked up and asked if that’s where she can look to talk to you.

I told her that maybe everyone has their own way. And she could choose however she wanted.  Whatever she felt comfortable with. I gave her the example that after I take a shower, and the mirrors and windows get all fogged up in the bathroom, I write “Laila” with my finger onto the foggy mirrors.

Before I could even finish telling her the example, she had already started gently tearing up the little pieces of red tissue paper that one of her birthday presents was wrapped up in. And she spelled out Laila Mama with the tissue paper pieces all across the table we were sitting at at Brown’s Restaurant.  That’s your granddaughter, for sure. Little miss creative, and jhittee. You called me jhittee, but I got that from you. But that’s a topic I will save for a whole other blog entry.

Anyway, there are people on their patios and balconies- family and friends all laughing or drinking or toasting or enjoying each other’s company on this special Vancouver night. I know that’s all you wanted. And I am sorry I didn’t help you take advantage of these firework nights.  But I promise you that I was not out on those nights either, watching the fireworks without you.

I just missed them everytime as well. I didn’t realise what a special memory they could have held for us.  How magical they could be, until now, when I watch them from my balcony and wish that I could turn back time and have this be one of our dates- just you, me and the fireworks.

Do you see the shimmery gold ones right now, cascading down so gently, with splashes of red every now and again? Oh, not there is the big bang white ones, that burst out like gigantic flowers opening up to the whole city.  My favorite ones are the sparkly white ones that shimmer quietly closer to the water.  They make me think of heaven, what I imagine it to look and feel like.

Oh.. now he shimmering white ones have these beautiful tips of deep purple added to them. I’ve never seen that before. Or maybe I just never noticed them enough.

I cannot turn back time. That is going to be an uvsose of mine forever.  (It’s funny, or bitter sweet how these kachi words just spring to my mind without me thinking about them).

But maybe I can make sure to sit with you on fireworks nights like this, writing to you and talking to you as if some things have not changed. As if you are still with me. That everytime the sky lights up with another shot of colour from these beautiful fireworks, that I can imagine that we are both finally watching them together.

I love you,  Mom. Until the next fireworks night.

Goodnigtht.

Love always, and forever,

Tas