Light dances on the water where the river flows freely through an icy bordered channel. If I keep my eyes focused only on what appears to be the light dancing, it is as if the river is standing still.
I know it’s not.
It is the same in life. Sometimes, I think time is standing still, and then I notice a birthday flowing past, a memory drifting away into forgetfulness and I remember – nothing is static. Everything changes.
Life is energy and energy is not inert. It is constantly moving, shifting, changing, flowing. Like time. Always on the move. Like life. Always evolving.
It was at this time last year that my sisters and daughters and I began to gently move into the space where we knew the light in our mother’s/grandmother’s life was beginning to waver. That space where, at 97, she knew her time on this earth was drawing to an end.
It would be another 15 days before she drew in her final breath and released herself to eternity, but she knew. The one’s she had loved and lost in this life, and the God who had held her steady through every breath, were waiting, she said. She was ready to join them.
In those final days of my mother’s life, if I kept my eyes focused on each breath she took, it felt as though time was standing still. As if, her breaths would keep on going, even though her heart was growing more and more still.
It wasn’t that I wanted her to not go. It was that I wanted her to open her eyes and see that what she was leaving behind was a circle of love that she had woven together through every hardship, every sorrow, every moment of joy.
It was often hard for my mother to see the moment’s of joy. Tormented by depression most of her adult life, darkness often clouded her view of the beauty surrounding her.
I remember as a young girl wishing I could weave a bridge of words that would take us away from where my tormented mother stood in the kitchen in front of my siblings and me holding a knife to her breast and threatening to end it all. That bridge would take us away from the darkness into a land of constant sunshine.
It would be many years before I realized I was never powerful enough to break through the darkness. And, even longer before I learned that even though I could smile my way through even the darkest night of the soul, the darkness owned part of me too.
It was a therapist’s calm question of, “How long have you been depressed?” that created the first visible crack in the darkness for me. I was in my early 40s at the time.
“Me? Depressed? Never.”
I remember how she smiled, slightly, and asked, “What would you do differently if you were?”
It was a really tough question for me to even consider.
I knew how to walk alongside other’s in the darkness. I did not know how to walk alongside myself.
I feared sadness. I feared the depression that had consumed my mother throughout her life. Yet, to love my mother as she was, I had to learn to love her in the darkness. I had to learn to not be afraid of sadness, tears and emotions that did not come wrapped up in a smile.
Much has shifted since that therapist invited me to consider the shadow side of my constant smile. The icy grip I had on maintaining ‘my smile’ has eased as the warmth that comes with letting myself feel deeply, cry freely, live joyfully in darkness and in light, has helped me grow beyond my fear of the dark into loving all of it. All of me. And all of my mother.
And though my memory likes to play tricks on me sometimes, like the light dancing on the water, life keeps flowing with its beautiful truth shimmering in every moment. To see through darkness, we must open our eyes to the light. And, to truly feel and know lightness of being, we must honour the darkness that makes light so much brighter.
I watched the light dance on the water this morning. The river kept flowing. Time kept passing and always, Love moved freely through the darkness and the light holding me always in the circle of Love my mother’s hands wove together through every breath of her life.