As she has taken to doing since she passed away last February 25th, my mother once again visited me while I was in the bath. Unlike in life, where her fear of opening doors to the past kept her burdened with sadness, she asked if we could talk about something she’d avoided speaking of all my life.
There are so many truths I could not face when I was your mother of ‘this-world-out-here’ she says. Life was so hard for me and facing those truths only made it feel harder. I was always afraid the truth would break me, she says. I was not as brave as you. I’m sorry.
It was the ‘I’m sorry’ that got me. In life, my mother never, ever apologized. Never.
It was not her way.
My mother’s way was to cling to the picture of being the perfect mother of her dreams. She wanted to give us the world, it’s just the world was so big and scary she had to hold onto the belief she was the perfect mother to keep her fears at bay. It was her fear that blinded her to the beauty of truth in all its sometimes painful manifestations.
To be the perfect mother, she had to hold tight to the belief that the troubles in our relationship were all my fault. I was too outspoken. Too challenging. Critical. Judgemental. Harsh. If there were issues, I created them. I was the one who needed to accept the blame and apologize.
And while I’m not saying I wasn’t all of those things, I also felt she owned some of the issues. I mean, it takes two to tango. Right?
Where my two-to-tango thinking got me in trouble was believing that if she would just once apologize, the past would be set straight, as would my life.
The only way to set the past straight is to let it go.
For me, letting go of the past comes through forgiveness.
I thought I’d done the work. I mean, how much therapy, self-development, journalling, channelling and whatever other process was out there could I throw at myself?
We cannot see what we do not know. I thought I’d done the work and then, my mother apologized and asked if I could forgive her for not protecting me as a child and I discovered a knot of pain, not even her apology could dissolve.
But then, it was never really about her apology. It was about my pain and my holding onto it in unforgiveness.
I cried. A lot. When I felt the knot inside my body. It was lodged somewhere in my esophagus. It hurt.
I want to, I told her. But the words are stuck.
Then practice, she said. Practice saying, I forgive you.
Even that hurt. But I know the wisdom of my mother’s words.
To be free of unforgiveness, I must practice. I forgive you.
This painting comes from my practice. It is a gift from my mother to me. And to my daughters and grandchildren and their children too.
Unforgiveness blocks the beauty from shining bright in the tapestry of our lives. Unforgiveness hinders free passage of the love that weaves us into our family story, the love that forever weaves its way through time, even after our last breath has been tied off on the giant loom of our story.
It is Love that weaves all the colours of the rainbow into the tapestry of life flowing into the story of generations to come. And it is forgiveness that is its warp and weft, muting the pain and sorrow. Tears and fears. Sadness and hurts. Transforming them into Love.
My mother came to visit me. She asked for my forgiveness. Not for me, she said. It’s for you. You must say the words so you can weave an even more beautiful story of your life today that will inspire generations to come.
She was right, this mother of my dreams. There is much beauty in letting go. Especially when threads of forgiveness are woven into the tapestry of your life with Love as the weaver of your story.