It began with the words appearing just as I was falling asleep. I quickly grabbed my iPhone from the night table beside me and recorded ‘the message’ the muse had delivered. And while the final quote is not exactly as I recorded it, the foundation of the idea that dredging up the past has little value did not change between sleep and finishing the painting.
My mother used to say something like that to me a lot, “Why can’t you just leave it alone? It doesn’t do any good to dredge it up. Stop making trouble.”
I struggled to understand how my trying to understand the past was trouble-making. Mostly because I couldn’t understand how letting the past go without understanding how it was affecting the present didn’t make sense to me.
We butted our heads together, a lot, over that issue.
My mother wanting ‘peace’ by not discussing anything that had happened in the past.
My wanting to discuss things that had happened so that I could find peace with the past, today.
Today is March 3rd. Today is the day we said our final farewells to our mother one year ago.
On this morning a year ago today, I was sitting at my desk, where I sit now, typing. It was a little later in the morning. I know this because at one point, I looked up from my desk and saw two coyotes standing at the back gate along the stretch of tree-lined bank that separates our yard from the river.
I grabbed my phone to take a photo and called out to my sister, who was lying on the chaise beside me listening to a song I’d played for her – it was a family favourite and I wanted to include it in the powerpoint I was working on of mom’s life.
I wrote on my blog the next day,
On Tuesday morning, two coyotes loped off through the forest that lines the river in front of our home. One stands hidden in the trees, waiting patiently. The other comes and stands outside my window. He is listening and watching. And, when he turns to go I hear a voice say, “Cheerio kids. “I’ve got her. She’s safe.”
This morning, as light creeps across night’s sky, I keep looking out the window. Will they appear?
And I smile.
While mediums might disagree, I can’t order up spirits in the form of coyotes at will.
But I can remember the sight of those two coyotes that morning and the message they brought.
And, I can hear my mother’s voice this morning whispering through the trees, “The answers you seek are not in the past, Louise. They are inside you. They always have been.”
I hear her voice and want to argue.
And I smile again.
It was always the way for my mother and me. She would say something and I would try to prove her wrong, or at least convince her that my way worked too.
I listen again. Deeply. The answers are not in the past. They are inside you.
I take a deep breath and watch two geese flying along the river, their wings almost skimming its surface. The geese are noisy these days. They honk and flap their wings where they nestle up against the ice at the edge of the river, just outside my window.
I close my eyes, take a breath and let my conscious mind sink down into the bottomless mystery of my life deep within me.
The answers are inside you.
I follow the trail of memory, like Hansel and Gretel wandering through the woods until I come to a cave, its entrance a black whole buried in the side of a rock. It is not foreboding. Just dark. Mysterious.
I step inside and am immediately bathed in a beautiful, pure light.
I love you, a soft voice whispers. Always have. Always will.
I take a deep breath letting the light wash over me. A tear trickles down my cheek. My body feels warm.
I open my eyes and look outside the window.
The river flows. The geese honk. A squirrel runs across the branch of a tree. Morning has broken.
There are no coyotes at the back gate.
It doesn’t matter.
I have the answer to my prayers.
I love you. Always have. Always will.
And I know. To hear the voice of love, I needed to first unravel the past. To find the path from the ‘there and then’ to the ‘here and now’ where I am free to cut the strings that tied me to my quest for the events that would answer the question ‘why’.
In the end, ‘why’ was never the question.
The question was, and will always be, “Knowing what you know now, what are you willing to do to love yourself completely?”