The bridge of compassion

She put on lipstick.

Brushed her hair.

Applied a little blush.

“You look beautiful,” I told my mother when I arrived to visit her at the hospital yesterday.

Definitely much better than on Tuesday when my sister and I wondered if she’d ever be able to get out of bed again.

That is the thing about blessings and kindness (and good medical care). When the heart is open to receive, Love flows freely. And with its flow, in no time at all, healing begins.

She is getting out of bed. They’ve taken out the IV, and she is eating better than she has in a long while. Even though “the food is terrible,” she says. And she scrunches up her face into a look of disgust, waves her arthritic fingers in the air as if brushing away something foul.

Which given her estimation of the culinary efforts of the hospital kitchen, is probably what my mother is doing, brushing away an ill-smelling memory.

It is one of her habitual responses — to throw her hands into the air, brush away imaginary cobwebs of confusion and say,  “Let’s not talk about that.”  or “Let’s not bring that up again.”

And while my mother and I have many similar traits, this is the one that sits between us, irritating whatever fragile peace we’d managed to claim in our often turbulent relationship.

I want to ‘deal with things’, get them out in the open, deconstruct and dissect to discard. My mother would rather just leap to the discard.

In the past, I have judged her harshly for her desire to discard. How can something heal if you do not acknowledge its existence? I’d ask when she would ask me why I have to bring that up, again.

Because to learn from it, I need to see what it is, I would reply.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore. What’s done is done. Nothing can change it.

Yes but…

And I would insist on pushing into it, pulling it apart, pushing it through to the other side.

For my mother, that felt harsh, cruel, mean.

For me, it felt constructive. It wasn’t personal. I simply needed to understand in order to learn. Believing that I cannot heal or change what I do not acknowledge, I wanted to speak of what it was that was causing me so much distress.

Except, when looking to heal a relationship, or build a bridge between two differing points of view, talking over the other person’s point of view only creates more of what caused the rift in the first place — discord, differing points of view, decidedly different perspectives.

It isn’t that either point of view is wrong. it is simply that they are different.

Yesterday, as I sat and chatted with my mother and my youngest daughter who was visiting with her boyfriend, I marvelled at how different the view is when no matter my perspective, I step out of judgement to see the people around me through a compassionate and loving heart.

When I let go of having to prove I’m right, the world rights itself to that place where it is not our differences that connect us, it is the thing we share that can never be broken, our family circle united in Love.



17 thoughts on “The bridge of compassion”

  1. LG

    in the waning years of my mother’s life – I had been struggling with similar issues. A wise counselor taught me that I could deal with those issues – but that I would have to deal with them by myself. A monologue, not a dialogue. Suddenly the need to get HER to admit, HER to change, HER to deal with me and issues differently – it became up to ME to see things differently, up to ME to be happy without imposing change on HER. I’m not sure if it was that alone, that made those last 6 months easier for her. I’d like to think it helped. It certainly made it easier for me.

    I’m just guessing here – but I bet your mother has had far more thoughts about her waning life than you have. I bet she struggles with the angst between you far more than you have. I know that might be a stretch – but consider she is 92 and can’t change much, she’s gripping life like there might be no tomorrow. I bet she has lots to say and do before she’s done. I bet, if you asked her, “are there things you want to say, or do, before you are gone that you are afraid you won’t get done, or live long enough to say or do?” … that you might get answers that surprise you.

    I bet.




  2. Years ago my ex said, “do you want to be right or do you want to be in relationship?” I hated that, but he was right. Hahaha.

    I think there are some universal truths that apply across cultures, gender age religions… This is one of them. Thanks for the reminder my friend!


  3. Before I visit my mothers I recite this mantra:
    “Notice judgment
    Let it go
    Open heart
    Join in!”
    I can’t make her change, but I can shift my attitude to one of acceptance … and let love be the guide not my thinking!
    Somehow we are both so much happier 🙂
    Val x


    1. I love your inner mantra Val — for many years, before I said anything to my mother, I would silently repeat to myself, “I love you…” and then say what I was going to say. It taught me to not react and instead, to act and speak and do from Love. Hugs


  4. oh friend, do I ever feel you! I love it when someone is direct. It feels safe.
    I feel like I’m on shaky ground with someone who won’t deal. Won’t deal….can’t heal:/
    I love how you’re gently walking this turbulent ground with your dear mom.
    Love and grace to you both,


  5. Most of my life I have been one to ‘discard’ and I am not sure that always served me well. I am much more open know to discuss things properly. That doesn’t always work either!
    I love your approach to see and connect through a compassionate loving heart.


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