What a difference community can make.
For the past ten weeks I have deep in grief for my mum.
Each day I have walked with her right next to me (figuritively speaking).
Each day I have shed tears, full of deep sadness for her suffering, regret for decisions I have made and feeling lost and cynical.
I have been making my way through the gulf of loss and doing exactly what I needed to be doing.
At times I have had to remind myself that "doing something" with such uncomfortable feelings means not doing much but being present with them.
"Doing something" means walking my days in deep acceptance of this moment in time.
This has been one of those times that doing nothing was exactly what would eventually move me forward in wellness.
My mum has died. I want to honour this time in my life.
Over the years a favourite poem of mine has been "SM" by Alice Walker, especially these two stanzas:
"I tell you, Chickadee
I am afraid of people
who cannot cry
Tears left unshed
turn to poison
in the ducts
Ask the next soldier you see
enjoying a massacre
if this is not so.
Violence does not work
except for the man
who pays your salary
if you could still weep
you would not take the job.
So I'm ok with tears and the girls and I have cried and shared stories and remembered and asked questions.
I have held my girls. The girls have held me.
It is a recipe for a healing tonic.
Ruby writes to her Grandma each evening telling her about the day and the girls have also worked on books of their own.
Ruby began hers one morning; a memoir of the weeks in Wellington after Grandma's death. Sky picked up on the idea and began one of her own. All I have done is provided encouragement and space to get them finished.
As they write and draw, they make sense of this time for themselves.
The books are called "In Rememberance of Grandma." Such wee treasures.
And then there is the sewing the girls have been doing; gifts for cousins from Grandma's fabric stash.
Fabrics, which Grandma used to make dresses for my sisters and me (uh-hum, 40 years ago), are at long last seeing the light of day again and being sewn into gifts by and for her grandchildren.
As we sew, we have been weaving her qualities and gifts and love back into our lives and although we feel her absence, our hearts swell with her love.
At some point on Sunday I remember realising that I had hardly thought of mum. As I filled up on new connections and fun and beauty, the time I spent thinking of her had fleeting.
Until then, my head had been turned toward the past for ten weeks but hanging out with interesting and connected young people and their families inspired curiosity and rekindled my hope for the future.
New ideas arose, fresh possibilities were planted and unexpectedly I found myself walking once again with the living.
Real community makes a difference.
That weekend something shifted.
Unknowingly, the community held me and helped me trust once again that life is good.