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.

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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.

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You’re Simply the Best

Dear Mom,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re simply the best

Better than all the rest

Better than anyone

Anyone I ever met

I’m stuck on your heart

I hang on ever word you say…” 

You Are With Me Everywhere, Every Day

“When I am gone, look for me in every star,

every moon, every brand new day.

I am not gone.  I am everywhere with you dear.,

everywhere the light gets in.”

stargazing2

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, I went out to run some errands, and at a certain point, I thought I was lost. Lost in my own city, lot in my own neighbourhood, I was wondering what the point of all this roaming was.  Lists of things I ‘needed’ to get done throughout the day.  How did these lists even get made? I mean, how did I decide what to prioritize over what? And why?

My heart just felt heavy. I thought about you and how that should have been my main priority. And now, it hurts to not even feel like it’s an option- to give you my time, or love or get that unconditional love back from you. I was stepping on the pavement along the street, but felt a loss of footing, ungrounded.  I kept trying to keep myself focused on my list of things needing to get done, and not get distracted. But then I saw these pretty little cards and nick knack gifts at this cute shop along my path. And I stopped in not knowing what I was even looking for.

It turns out, I didn’t have to go very far. I hardly took two steps in, and IT found me. I didn’t have to even try. The first card, staring me right in the face. Or should I say fluttering it’s sparkly butterfly wings into my heart.  That little poem at the start of this blog entry is what was written on the card. And although I didn’t have my phone with me to take a picture of it, or even a pen to write it down, I sneaked open one of the pens that were on sale near me. And I jotted the words down on the corner of a little scrap piece of paper in my purse.  Don’t worry, I put the pen back where it belonged.

Hopefully, the universe will forgive me for taking a second to use a pen that wasn’t mine. I just felt like it was meant to be.  A message from you, I hope, I pray. A message telling me there is no reason to feel lost. You are with me, everywhere, every day.

I didn’t search for anything else in the store. Didn’t feel any need to delve deeper into all the cute items all around.

I walked out, walked to the bank- CIBC of course. Our bank.  And because I still don’t really like using the machines to make bill payments and check my balance (I’m very old school like that), I stood in line, and waited for a teller to be free.

I even remember thinking that I must have a lot of time on my hands to waste waiting instead of just quickening the process through the automated machine. But again, I was meant to be in that line. I am so glad I chose that “longer” path.  See, there was this older man in front of me. I’m guessing he was in his 70’s? I am not really sure.

But he was waiting too. And while he waited, he spotted one of those baskets or bowls of candy at one of of teller stands.  I thought he was just going to grab one, …or two? But he stuck his hand in their pretty deep and grab a bunch. Greedy little bugger, I thought to myself at first. Haha.  I thought for sure he was going to shove them in his pockets or something before anyone of the bank employees could catch him (Even though there is a camera not too far from where we were standing. But anyway…)

And you know what he did instead? He put his hand out to me, to tell me to take one or some.  Awww… my heart just melted.  “Have some,” he said, before he even took one for himself.

“Thank you,” I replied. “That is something my mom would do. It means a lot to me. Thank you.”

“My pleasure,” he said.

For some reason, I felt this need to add, “It almost makes me cry, because my mom passed away two and a half years ago. I remember she always used to pick up candy at banks while waiting in line, and give one to me and keep some in her purse.”

And he smiled such a genuine smile at me and said, “You know, I still talk to my parents, and they passed away a long time ago. We were taught that, that we could talk to them forever.  I came from a poor Irish family, but I was so lucky to have been brought up so well. I have had such a blessed life. Even my father never raised a hand or his voice to us. He didn’t have to. He would just look up at us and ask us to think about whether what we were doing was good or not.”

“Maybe you were meant to pass on a candy from my mom to me,” I said to him. “To remind me that my mom is always there.”

“Yes, she is,” he said.

And then he was called up to the next teller. And I tucked away the candy he gave me inside a corner of my purse, the purse you actually bought me, Mom.

You are everywhere with me, always.  I just can’t let it be any other way. I won’t let it.

I was, and still am, truly blessed to have you as my mom.

Love always and forever, Tas

 

 

 

Strumming for You

Dear Mom,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you, Mom.

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

Every song and melody and note is for you.

Love, always and forever,

Tas

The Sufi Way

Dear Mom,

I haven’t made it to Khane much at all like I thought I would. I find it hard to get through even one Du’a (prayer) without just being in a bucket of tears. There are smells and words and sounds and textures- even holding a tasbih in my hand- that are so you. They remind me of you. And this should be a good thing. But they also remind me that you are not here to be the barer of them. And that weighs too heavy on my heart. So instead of solace, sometime being in our place of prayer makes me so overly emotional.

Don’t get me wrong. I think I have written this before, but what our faith and the culture you brought us in has taught me is invaluable. I feel so grateful to know that I could go to any country in the world, and if I walk into a Khane, I will be welcomed and be made a part of a community because of this commonality – a belief system- that we share or at least grew up in.

The problem is that I have so many questions. I have so many misunderstandings or “un-understandings” about the words and rituals and protocols we just follow. But I feel like I am following them blindly because I don’t have a good sense of what they mean or stand for. I do want to learn better. I want to learn not just for myself, but to teach others, especially my nieces, your granddaughters. I know they have questions too, and I want to help them find the answers, but also encourage them to find their own answers, and make their own choices. Faith should not be forced on anyone. It’s very meaning- belief- is about what we feel inside. And I want to feel a closer tie to this faith you so lovingly made a part of our lives. I want to do this also to feel a closer connection to you.

And sure, I haven’t been practising our usual Ismaili ways for years, in terms of customs or going to khane. But I think in my heart and the way I live and the way I treat people shows that I have those values in me.

And I found another way to delve deeper into Islam, through something that resonates more with me- Sufism.  Remember when I came back from that Sufism school that one day? I went to it somewhere on Lonsdale. And I told you about it that night or the next day. And you were so excited. I was excited too. But it was a little overwhelming for. But that and of course all those poems by Rumi, and my fascination with mysticism has just planted this seed in me that I think is my “ticket” into an Islam that connects with me.

Thank you for being so excited for me, Mom. I remember the way your face lit up when I told you about it. You didn’t know much about Sufism, as far as I could tell. But you were pretty charged up about finding me books or helping me learn more about it.

Well, guess what? I am now, Mom. I’ve been taking this online course called The Sufi Way of the Beloved.  It’s by Andrew Harvey, the author whose book I got sent in the mail. I think I have written to you about that recently. Well, he is a passionate speaker. And I was so drawn to his passion and the way he spoke about literature and spirituality and passion and … He had this one line in his description of the course. He said something about Sufism being transfused into your veins, and that just had me.

I have to admit, I have found a lot of the information quite overwhelming. It is a lot to take in and some of it, I don’t quite understand. Or maybe I have just never been a great listener to one voice speaking continuously for long periods of time. I need visuals. I need to read the words. I need to stop and think about them or discuss them. Otherwise, they all become a blur.

But each week, I took another line or another concept, or another piece of history or something that intrigued me with me. And it added up until last week where I just had goosebumps for the whole hour as Andrew spoke about Rumi. I think he is right. The other lessons and talks were leading me to Rumi. Rumi is my in to spirituality, to Islam, to getting back to my connection with my faith. And I am hoping it will help me find a connection to you.

I actually called in to the talk afterwards, and spoke to Andrew live over the internet. I told him about you. I told him about what I was struggling with, what my intentions with the course were. And he reminded me of something it sounds like Rumi taught him, or at least consolidated in him- that there is no death, really. That we are connected still. And that I can find that connection through honoring my name- Tasleem, which I know means surrender. And this is the reason I was so fascinated with Sufism in the first place, Mom. I never got a chance to tell you how after I learned what my name meant, I also found out that the Sufis believed that surrender was the highest attainment that someone to achieve.

And that has been my goal ever since- to live up to my name. To surrender to life, to love, to God.  I just never knew that I’d be doing this without you physically here. Or at least not this soon. But Andrew gave me some wise words of wisdom. He listened with so much compassion and gave me so much hope.

Thank you, Mom, for honouring our faith and being so full of faith. Thank you for being such a beautiful role model of spirituality. Thank you for bringing me up with this as my grounding. I am sorry that I may have never really showed much appreciation for it. But I was feeling lost in it. Not quite understanding it. But I am wanting to learn. It may be through a different route that most, or than you went through or that I expected. But I think this is more me- poetry, mysticism, dance, surrender, passion, and love. When I think of these qualities as being so embedded in Islam, that gets me excited.

And I am going to use this to get more in touch with you. I will try to update you with what I learn along the way.  The Sufi Way.  It is kind of intriguing, and magical, and gives me hope that something truly beautiful will come out of this not just for me, but also for you and me together.

Love you, Mom.

 

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

Awakening

Dear Mom,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you.
Tas

 

Champagne Birthdays

“…I know they bought a cottage
Just large enough for two.
My mother dusted it with love,
Baked sugar cookies, too.
I wish I’d been her neighbour
Who came for snacks and teas,
Who walked the back fence
Exchanging recipes.
I recall when I was small
She taught me prayerfully.
Sometimes I think my mother was
A little bit like me.
Of all the people in the world,
Much more than any other,
I wish I might have known her,
Before she was my mother.”
– By Brenda Leigh

 

Dear Mom,

In less than three hours, it would have been your 78 birthday.  That sentence feels so wrong to me for many reasons. The first one is the “you would have been” part.  I still don’t believe that you’re not here. It shocks me when I wake up every morning. Even in the middle of the night, I think it’s just the longest and worst nightmare I’ve been through.  But then I have to face the truth each day.

It’s hard. I want to stay up until 12am and call you right at midnight like you did for my birthday last year.  Better yet, I wish I could show up at your place, and spend the night so that we could celebrate together.  I would watch Hindi movies, or eat samosas, or go to Walmart or Shoppers or even take you to Sha’s Video and James Street Grill if I could.  I wish I could do all your favorite things with you to show you how special March 16th is to me, how special you are, and how lucky I am to have had you as a mother.

And this would be your seventy eighth??!! Really? Honestly, Mom, you never looked a day over 50 to me. And even then, your skin and hands, your innocent smile, and your warm heart were always so youthful.

Youth.  I wonder what you were like when you were younger, before I knew you, like maybe on your Champagne Birthday.  Oh my God, Mom, I never got a chance to teach you about Champagne birthdays!  It was actually a term I didn’t learn until just a few years ago, when Renee had hers- her Champagne Birthday.  She actually taught me what the phrase meant.

See, Renee’s birthday is March 29th, so the year she turned 29- that 29th birthday was her Champagne Birthday.  Your birthday is on March 16th, so that means that your Champagne Birthday was when you were sixteen. Sorry I missed it.  I try to imagine what you were like at 16 or younger. Sorry I missed what kind of girl you were growing up- what you looked like, what you dreamed of becoming, who you played with, and even your laugh or the way you wore your hair and what kind of boys you liked.

I know some little things about that time- things you told me like you liked to wear long maxi dresses, and wear anjern in your eyes to highlight them with a black line inside your lower lids.  But what were you reading in this picture?  How old were you? What was in the suitcases beside you?  What kind of room did you have?  When did you first start putting on make up?

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There are so many questions, so many details I wish I had asked you, about the girl you were before you were my mother.  I loved hearing your stories.  They will never be the same coming from someone else.  You always said I should write this stuff down. Well, now I can only write down the things I remember.  There are a lot of holes- things I don’t know, things I was scared to find out about because I know you didn’t always have it easy. And I guess sometimes, we forget that our parents were not always our parents. You had a life before me. You ran around your own playgrounds, had your own parents who looked after you, you had your own dolls and favorite places to go to eat or meet friends.

I only have a few pictures of you when you were younger. But they are not as far back as when you were a child. I wonder if anyone has those.  I think you all had to leave them behind when you had to leave Uganda.  You lived in Uganda. That in itself is incredible to me.  It’s like another lifetime for me, but it was during your life, a part of who you were.  I wish I could have seen it from your eyes.

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You were so beautiful and looked so free in the pictures I saw of you before you were a mother.  I couldn’t have been there for that time in your life.  I guess I should be grateful for that because I wouldn’t have had you for a mom then.  So thank you for having me. You were definitely there at my Champagne Birthday! That would have been when I was three years old.  I found a picture from that year, that birthday.  Look at the way I was looking at you, Mom?   You feeding me cake, my eyes fixated on you like you were my everything. You really were, and still are.

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I hope that wherever you are now, you are being taken cared of. I don’t know if you celebrate birthdays up there, but this would definitely be a day to celebrate.  Your birthday. It was the best day of my life, because it was the start of the journey of you becoming my mom.  And you coming into this world- well, you touched so many hearts and lives, Mom, the way you cared so much. You always seemed to be buying gifts for other people, never thinking about yourself.

I can only buy you something now to hold onto myself, for you.  It’s not the same, but I try to still pick things that I think you’d like.  I loved buying you gifts. I still see things around at different shops and picture you wearing them or opening them as a gift, or I imagine what you would pick to buy or try on. Oh wait, you never liked trying things on. That’s right. You just saw it, bought it, and I hoped it fit so we wouldn’t have to return it to the store in time. And you were always grateful you didn’t have to spend time in a change room.

I hope that you are showered with the sweetest gifts now.  Have lots of cake with Mama and Bapa. I hope that they are feeding you all your favorite flavors.  And of course, that there is endless chai to go along with it.

Happy Birthday, Mom. You are so deep in my heart. I carry you with me wherever I go.

I am not into celebrating my birthday anymore without the woman who gave birth to me. It just doesn’t feel right. But I will definitely celebrate your birthday in the small ways that I can in hopes that you might feel me thinking about you.

You are never to be forgotten.  You will live on in my memory forever. And everyone of your birthdays will be the most special day of the year for me.

Love Tas