Was that you?

hopingDear Mom,

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

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

I walked into the store Utopia on Lonsdale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wishing2“Are you okay, Mom?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what It said:

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

 

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

I decided to look through the rest of the cards.

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

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

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

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

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

“I am so much better now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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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.

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.

 

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

 

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

Dragonflies

Dear Mom,

I went to a show the other night with two of my friends.  But instead of watching the actors on stage, I found myself pleasantly distracted by the dragonflies that swarmed above us.

We were at Theater Under the Stars at Stanley Park.  And at first, I thought it was just one dragonfly.  You know, another sign, from ‘you’.  So I had my eye fixated on it.  But it seems that maybe it’s an area where a lot of dragonflies come to? I don’t know. That’s what I thought I heard.  And so, at first, I was a little disappointed. Like it was just a usual occurrence there.

Because you know I’m obsessed with dragonflies, right? And you know why? Because of the necklace you bought me on my la…, I was going to say my last birthday. It wasn’t my last. It was two years ago. But it felt like my last in a sense, because birthdays AFTER the person who gave birth to me is ‘gone’ just don’t feel like birthdays at all.

Anyway, you bought me this pendant and necklace. Do you remember? You were really sick that day. But we were in Capilano Mall. And you kept insisting that we get this pendant. It was beautiful.  A blue butterfly, we thought. At least that’s what I assumed it was. And to my knowledge, you weren’t familiar with what dragonflies were. So I am sure you thought it was a butterfly too.

I think about that moment now, and realize that either you or something in the Universe knew it was going to be the last present. Maybe you didn’t know. But you obviously felt very adamant that you were going to get me something.  Gosh, Mom, how that something became the thing that represented ‘everything’ to me.  Because wasn’t it only a couple of weeks later, not even, that you were in the hospital? I am so lost with time.

One day, many months or I don’t know how long after that, I went to get a massage in lower Lonsdale.  The girl who usually gives me massages said, “I love your necklace. Dragonflies are really meaningful to me.”

Dragonflies? I thought. But this is a butterfly, isn’t it?

Then, she told me that she could tell it was a dragonfly because of the tail.  And we started discussing the significance of these magical creatures. Their blue wings, their light and airy presence, their unique look and especially how they are supposed to be good luck. When you see them.  And I’ve been learning more about them ever since.

  • I’ve learned that the Dragonfly is the world’s fastest flying insect
  • That seeing them more often can represent being more receptive to messages from the Universe.
  • People who have absorbed and retain the energy of the Spirit of the Dragonfly are often good healers
  • A dragonfly paperweight will help to bring harmony to the environment.
  • You can call upon the energy of the Dragonfly Spirit to your mind- for healing of emotional wounds and grief.
  • “The Dragonfly has a 360 degree field of vision, the eyes have 30,000 facets, each of which is a separate light sensing organ. The Dragonfly has a particular optical illusion called motion camouflage, moving in such a way to project itself as a stationary object, whilst moving at great speed, as a method of self protection against all that would cause them harm.”
  • The oldest known species of Dragonfly are 320million years old, and appear in fossils.
  • When a dragonfly shows up in your life, it may be a reminder to bring more joy and lightness in your life. It can also be a message that it’s time for change.

I can’t find any specific writings on it now, so I don’t know if I made this next part up, but I thought that dragonflies were a symbol from heaven. So I’d like to think that they are telling me that you are okay, that YOU are telling me that you are okay. And that you are bringing me this beautiful flying insect, out of nowhere, especially when I am feeling really down and worried about you, to tell me there is nothing to worry about.

Because it wasn’t just in Stanley Park that I saw dragonflies. What about the one I saw a couple of weeks ago, when I was really sad after an appointment? I was thinking about you and all the medical things you had to go through. Some of which I don’t know about exactly. And I felt so heavy hearted and teary eyed. And I’m walking back to your car. Yes, I still call it your car as that’s what it was. And right there, on a side road in Kitsilano, I catch something out of the corner of my eye. And sure enough, it was a beautiful dragonfly. I followed it, and imagined that it was also following me. We did this little dance between the two of us for some time. And then it kind of just disappeared into the bushes or trees, and it was gone, just like that.

But the feeling it brought me- the lightness, and weight it lifted off of me, stayed with me for some time after.

And when I think about it, I have seen quite a few dragonflies since you passed away. Even at the skytrain station, when I realized I took the wrong train and wondered why I was even there. Why I made that mistake. I end up being accompanied on my wait by a dragonfly, just whisking above my head. Around and down and up and in circles, just flitting about.  I didn’t care anymore about the ‘wrong’ train I took. I felt almost like I had gotten a little taste of heaven in that moment. And I hope that heavenly message was from you.

So many people now know about my obsession with dragonflies. One of my friends from a grief therapy group I went to just months after you passed away sends me messages whenever she encounters dragonflies. She says she thinks of me and you at those times.

And even A. and K. and R. chose a dragonfly charm for my Pandora Bracelet (yes, the bracelet you bought me), as a Christmas present a couple of years ago, because they know how much I love dragonflies.  Because of you.

Thank you for that beautiful gift, Mom. I get so many compliments on the necklace whenever I wear it. I haven’t been wearing it as much lately only because one day, I realized the chain had undone, and I was so relieved that I didn’t lose it or the pendant. So I am just being more careful with it now.

But thank you for bringing my dragonflies, the spirit and magic of dragonflies. I hold them dear to me, as a sign that you are surrounding me always. And that you are surrounded by those and even more beautiful creatures and energies every moment of every day.   That you just send down a little taste of all the beauty that is around you now in heaven.

I love you.

Tas

Choose Mom

younger self

My two words would be : CHOOSE MOM (Always)

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

Look at the Water- ‘Duhryo Nar’

Dear Mom,

“Duhryo nar, Tas!”  Remember you always used to say that, especially when we were crossing over the bridge?  I do. I remember it now everytime I am near water.  Your voice saying “Look at the water, Tas!”  I wish I could hear that voice in real time all over again. But what does that even mean anymore- ‘real’ time? 😦

I used to get so annoyed because usually, I was driving when you’d tell me to look at the ocean. And I would be thinking, Mom, I can’t look right now. I need to keep my eyes on the road.  But guess what? I find myself sneaking a peak now everytime I go over any bridges.  I try to take a look for you.  You were right- it’s always worth even a second to glance at. And now I remember how excited you got when you saw the water. You seemed so in awe of it and this happiness and calm would just spread all across your face as you looked over at the waves and the boats and the beauty of it.

It’s funny though, that I don’t think you were much for being in the actual water. I don’t remember you loving being in pools or even dipping your feet in sand or the ocean. But I know you did come to a few, if not all, of my swimming lessons with me (Okay, I know there weren’t many since I can hardly swim now as an adult). But I wish I could thank you for putting yourself in an environment I know you weren’t that comfortable in just to help me learn and make me comfortable- knowing you were there with me.   I wish that you had been given more time as a child yourself, and as an adult, to just play and enjoy the water and the waves and to float on the water weightless and carefree.

I live only a few blocks from the beach and seawall now, the one that we grew up near. I have to admit that I don’t go out there enough- to walk and just soak in the fresh ocean air.  But when I do, I always make sure I stop in front of the water. I make sure I look out at the ocean, and take it all in with thoughts of you. Your appreciation for its vastness, its beauty and maybe it’s connection to God and the Universe. There must be something going right if we are blessed with such beautiful nature around us, right?

It makes me feel appreciative of my surroundings but also reminds me of how small we are. How small I am.  How there is still so much I don’t understand. And how some things are really out of our control.  That feeling is both a relief and causes me fear as well.  I still want to know where you went, what the Universe’s plan was in taking you so suddenly, and who is looking after you now.  Are you a part of the wind and ocean and air?

Do you finally get to float and move around freely without pain or sadness or heaviness around you?  Are you surrounded now by your own beautiful scenes like the ocean and birds that you loved so much here while you were with us?  How do I find you amongst all of this vastness? It seems so big and overwhelming, but I know I keep looking for you somehow. I don’t think I will ever stop until I get a sure sign that you are okay. And even then, I still need you in my life somehow.  I don’t know how or in what capacity, but I do need you, Mom. And you will always be my mom. The best one I could have ever asked for.

 

 

 

Every Morning…

Dear Mom,

cropped-cropped-2015-phone-pics-053.jpg

Every morning, before I do anything else (except maybe go pee- haha), I take that picture of you and I from long ago off of my windowsill, and hug it to my chest. Did you see that I changed the picture frame around it?  I also unplug the white lights I have surrounding the window and balcony sill at the same time.  And then I “talk to you” through that picture asking a few questions. They are always the same questions, just maybe in a different order. Today, the questions went something like this:

What are we going to do today, Mom?

Where are we going to go?

Who are we going to meet?

What are we going to say?

What are we going to believe?

What are we going to stand up for?

What are we going to change?

What are we going to let go of?

And I ask the questions as I walk to my little wine coloured shelf unit (that I put together. Oh my God, it took forever! -maybe you were there watching? or helping?)  that is in front of my kitchen counter. And then I set the picture of us on top of the shelf, next to the snow globes I bought for you recently and alongside the picture of you in your kitchen from just a few years ago.

I can’t seem to do anything else until I ask you to help me with my decisions for the day.  I like to believe that you are assisting me, that you are guiding me and encouraging me and still with me, by my side, somehow. I have to believe it, otherwise, I wouldn’t be very excited about getting up and going about the day.

Thank you, Mom, for continuing to help me live and make the right choices. I want to feel like I am including you in everything that I do. And I want you to know that you are always with me- in my thoughts, prayers and heart.

And of course, when nighttime comes, I take the picture of you and I and put it back on the windowsill and turn on the white lights to shine around it until the next morning, when I do it all again. And I’m never going to stop. It’s become a habit, a ritual, that starts my days and ends my nights with exactly what I need- my beautiful mother’s light.