Before my mother met my father, she had every intention of becoming a nun. And then, this dark-haired fly-boy rode in on a southbound train and swept her off her feet.
Years later, when she was a couple of years older than I am now, I asked her if she had any regrets. “I regret leaving my mother and father in India,” she said. “I promised to always take care of them and I didn’t.”
She didn’t regret not taking her vows. Her life, while often difficult after leaving India, was full of her family. Though, after returning to Canada in the late 70s, she wished she still lived closer to her brothers and sisters, most of whom were in France.
But she was deeply devoted to her son and granddaughters and never wanted to be far from them. When my brother left this world in 1997, a year and a half after my father, she was shattered.
It is the one thing she struggled with for the rest of her life; to understand the tragedy of his death and the loss of all contact with her two eldest granddaughters which followed.
Yet, no matter how devastated she was by her losses, her faith never faltered and she never questioned God’s will.
I often admired my mother’s deep faith. It gave her such certitude and grace. There was no doubt in her mind that God would take care of her and in that certainty, she sometimes wondered about ‘the why’, she never questioned God’s Grand Design. She never felt alone because God was always with her.
On Friday, I attended the funeral of my friend Bev, Tamara’s mother.
It is in such heart-breaking moments that I wonder if I had faith such as my mother’s would my heart ache so much. Yet, I know it would because loss is not about faith. It’s about sorrow. And the only thing to ease sorrow, is Love.
Because of Covid, there were only 10 of us at the service. Tamara, her aunt, cousin and seven friends. We were seated far apart from each other, masks on, no opportunity to hug, to support one another, to share our love, stories and strength with her beautiful daughter.
I am so deeply grateful for the gift of being able to be there for Tamara and to wish Bev a safe passage in this, her final adventure. But, the restrictions of Covid felt so heavy and binding and so very uncomfortable.
What struck me most was the realization of how important ‘gathering’ is when someone’s physical body leaves this world. How being there to say one last good-bye is vital. As is being able to walk alongside their loved ones in close community, to support them and to love on them.
With Covid there, it made the loving on them more distant and remote.
When my cousin Linda succumbed to Covid April 30th of 2020, my cousins in France could not gather. I was saddened by how difficult those days were for them, but didn’t fully comprehend just how tragic it would have felt until Friday, when I left the gathering, got in my car and drove towards home.
It was a beautiful, warm spring day. The leaves were budding. People were out and about. The sky was crystal blue clear.
My eyes were cloudy. My heart heavy.
Not just for Tamara’s loss and pain. But also because, as we sat in the sanctuary and bid Bev good-bye, Covid was present in our midst simply because of its restrictions and we were unable to give the one thing I know we all seven friends wanted to give Tamara and her family. A hug.
And so, this morning, I know in my heart, I must chose to seek the value in all things. To find the beauty amidst the aches that cloud my heartfelt view of the world on this beautiful spring morning.
This ache is a reminder to savour the moment and to treasure those I love and let them know how very, very deeply I love them and their beautiful gift in my life.
To live life with passion, purpose and presence.
To give. Love. Laughter. Compassion. Hope. Kindness.
Freely. Completely. Always.
And… to have faith… In Love. Always.
I do not share my mother’s deep faith in a God I never came to love as she did. It is not my way.
My way is to Love. Always. Completely. Freely.
And so I shall.
Love all things. Including this ache that reminds me that life is a precious gift to be savoured, tended to and cherished in every moment. Just the way it is. Just the way I am. And to be shared, freely and completely, with those I love.
I love you all and am grateful for your presence here, and in my life.