Art and Baking With A Two-Year-Old

My grandson wakes up singing.

I hear his voice through the closed door of his bedroom and do not go in. My heart yearns to listen and feel the joy in his song.

When I do go in, he smiles his beatific smile, holds out his panda for me to admire and asks, “Can I have my silver porch car?”

I smile and ask back, “Is there a word missing?”

He gives that same heart-melting smile and says, “Puhleaaase.”

I’d do anything for that smile and so go and find his little silver porch car.

For the next 15 minutes, I sit in the chair beside his bed as he plays in his crib with his trusty panda in one hand and the other ‘zoomin’ the car across the mattress. There’s a carwash to visit. A tunnel to drive through and a cliff to dangle the wheels over.

Eventually, he sits up, holds out his arms and says, “It’s time to get out of my sleep sack.”

And the day begins.

Each day always includes a walk. Rain or shine.

It is, ‘our thing’.

And I am into ‘our thing’.

Last year at this time when I came to visit, I wrote a post called “Lessons from a Toddler”. The first lesson was:

  • There’s no need to focus on your destination. It’s not going anywhere.

“Take time to savour every step along the way. You’ll get to where you’re going, eventually. Sometimes you’ll end up where you thought, sometimes you won’t. It’s all okay. Doesn’t matter. Where ever you end up, you’ll have discovered new vistas, new things along the way.”

With an almost 2 and a half-year-old, the lesson remains as true today as it was then. There is always so much to discover when you savour every step you take.

Inspired by the teachings of Orly Aveniri’s “Come Outside” online workshop, TJ and I have been collecting leaves and flowers and petals that have fallen on the ground. They are gifts for his mommy.

Yesterday, we smooshed our hands in paint and smeared them all over the pages of his painting book and made marks with his paintbrush and glued our collected ephemera onto the page.

It was pure delight.

Earlier in the day, we made zucchini muffins. He mixed the flour and dry goods in one bowl, poured the liquid and vanilla into the other and then stirred them all together. The kitchen ended up with flour everywhere. It didn’t matter. Though, as I said to my daughter, “One thing I forgot. When cooking with a 2 year old, make sure you have all the ingredients on the counter before you begin!” Otherwise, you risk having flour flying out of the bowl and being reminded that a mixing spoon is not just a spoon. It’s a rocketship too!

As we neared the end, he climbed down from his special kitchen stool, raced into the bedroom where his mother and sister were lying on the bed with his dad and proclaimed proudly, “I made muffins!”

I could listen to his voice forever.

I have been here for just over a week now and my heart is full.

Time with my granddaughter, Ivy, is a blessing. I savour it all.

Time with TJ and his family is a gift. A treasure. It fills my heart and memory banks as sweetly as rain trickling down a string of copper bowls into a barrel.

I will dip into it when I’m not here and come out refreshed, nourished and soaked in the sweet, tender goodness of these days.

On Wednesday, C.C., my beloved, will be driving out with my youngest daughter who is coming for ten days to support her sister and family.

She was to have flown but concerns over exposure to Covid on airplanes nixed those plans. Concerned that she had never taken such a long drive alone, C.C. offered to drive her out. They’ll rent a car so the two of us can drive home together in my car.

His willingness to take that long drive just to help out is a testament to his natural generosity and kindness.

But then, that’s family.

Heeding the call of Love to be there for one another in good times and challenging times.

These are exceptionally good times. Times to savour. Remember. Cherish.

Times to fill the memory barrel letting the sweet nectar of these days fill my heart.

Namaste

My Mother’s Prayers

My Mother’s Iris At The Altar – Mixed media on book page.

My mother prayed. A lot. No matter the time of day, situation, pressing need, she would pray.

After she passed away, my sisters and I sorted through her belongings and came across the leather pouch where she stored her many prayer cards.

None of us knew what to do with them so I took them, thinking I’d eventually use them in an art piece.

That time has come.

On Tuesday, I started a mixed media online course with Orly Avineri. Orly is my kind of creative force. Free-flowing. No ‘steps’. Just you, the muse, your intuition. And the courage to take risks.

The first exercise includes an invitation to use whatever papers are on hand, affix them to a page and create.

My mind immediately leapt to my mother’s prayer cards. This would be a good home for them. Not just on the first page, but on every page I create in this art journal.

In this case, the journal is an old book I found in a box that I’m willing to release to the creative forces. It is part of a set of three I’ve had for years. Unique to this one is the way the inside pages are inserted. They are all upside down.

A book with upside-down pages seemed appropriate at this time. The world right now feels a little topsy-turvy. Like everything we once knew, relied on, took for granted is no longer so dependable. So known. So inevitable.

There are no mistakes.

Working on this art journal, “My Mother’s Prayers” is stirring up my thoughts and feelings and memories of my Catholic upbringing, my mother’s prayers and her unshakable faith and our relationships. It is giving me pause to look at it all through different glasses, angles, lenses, perspectives. Upside down included.

Yesterday, I completed my third 2-page spread in the book. As with the previous two, this spread also includes a couple of the cards from mom’s collection.

As I created the page using flowers from the garden that were at the end of their life-cycle, my mind swept back to childhood days when my sister and I would help mom with the flowers in church on Saturdays.

I go back to this memory a lot. As if somehwere in that sacred space I might somehow find the key to where my mother’s and my relationship went off the rails.

Because it was. For much of our life together, not a very well functioning relationship.

In one of Orly’s videos for the course, she talks about how it’s important to live within the gifts, not the trauma of the past.

There were many, many gifts that came through my relationship with my mother. It helped forge the backbone of who I am today and who I am as a mother, an artist, a woman, a human being.

In her final years, the tensions between us eased. In her passing, they fade away leaving behind only Love and memories of the sacred moments of grace we shared.

The gifts in those moments are what fill me up today. They give me peace, hope, faith, Love.

Perhaps, one of its gifts is also in the surrendering of any guilt I may be unknowingly carrying from the past.

And I smile as I write the word ‘guilt’.

How very ‘Catholic’ of me.

My middle sister and I used to joke a lot about our Catholic guilt. We were good at it. Doused in it as children, it felt only natural to carry it into our adult years.

It took me years, and lots of therapy, to realize guilt is not natural. Nor is it constructive.

It can however, be a powerful force for change.

To not carry guilt, I must clean up my messes. It isn’t about tidying up the past as much as honouring it so that I can let it go without feeling… guilty.

And so, I create.

A book of prayers. For my mother. For me. For my daughters. My soon to be born grand-daughter.

The Crosses We Bear – first 2-page spread in My Mother’s Prayer Cards Art Journal

A book of prayers that begins with the words I wrote on the very first 2-page spread. Words that surprised me even as I wrote them: “The crosses we carry through the centuries burden us with their blind faith in what to believe in the here and now. Their weighty presence strangles our breath as we struggle to free ourselves of the guilt and shame of a past we cannot change.

I cannot change the difficult times with my mother.

I can honour our past, all of it, and in the here and now, celebrate and cherish her beautiful thread in the tapestry of my life.

Being the mother she was, her spirit is praying for all of us now.

What a wonderful gift of life and death in an unending circle of Love that remains, as always, nourished by my mother’s prayers.

Just As My Mother Taught Me.

It is four months today since my mother took her last breath.

The Irises are blooming.

This is our third summer we have lived in this house. The first that the Irises have bloomed.

They were her flower. She carried their name. Iris.

Iris Marie Gallagher August 31, 1922 – February 25, 2020

And I smile. My mother is here. Around us. With us. Amongst us.

For a few weeks, she kept visiting me. Usually, while I was in the bath. That kind of bothered me so I kept pouring in extra bubbles to blur her view.

“I’m spirit, Louise. I can see through everything. Including you. Stop hiding.” She said this to me on one of her many visits over the past four months. Her laughter tinkled like cutlery and crystal amidst the chatter at a cocktail party.

I don’t remember my mother laughing like that in real life. I also know she never sat in a glittery, tight, figure revealing cocktail dress, martini glass in one black elbow-length gloved hand and cigarette in a long glossy ebony holder in the other.

“Who are you?” I asked the first time she appeared. I knew she was my mother. She had her face. Her voice. Her scent. But the rest?

“Louise. I’m spirit. I’m the mother of your dreams,” she replied, again with that tinkly, almost girlish laugh.

“But you’re so different. You’re smoking!”

“It’s not like smoking is going to kill me,” she said and then, she threw back her head, blew smoke up into the skylight above her and laughed. Loud. Deep. Sexy.

Sexy? Oh no. Not my mother. She was beautiful. Exotic. Mysterious. Never sexy. As a girl I didn’t think she even knew how to spell s-e-x, which was always said in a whisper making my sister and I giggle at mom’s descriptions when she tried to teach us her version of the art of being a woman. If we had questions her favourite response was, “Go ask the school nurse.”

We never did. Ask the nurse. We mostly just muddled our way through it. My eldest sister taking me to buy my first bra. My first box of Kotex pads. My grad dress.

Girlfriends were the source of all things boy related and as to boys… Well, as long as you kept your legs crossed you couldn’t get in trouble. At least, that’s what my mother told me.

Which was why this mother, the one who insisted on visiting while I was in the bath and drinking martinis and smoking was so surprising to see.

“What happened to you when you crossed over, mom?” I asked her one day while she sat on the closed toilet seat lid painting her nails a bright red that she never would have been caught dead in if she was alive.

“Real life put so many restrictions on me,” she replied. “It was such a heavy load I always felt like I was suffocating. Now, I’m light as air and can delight in being all of me. And with you, that means being the mother you always dreamt I’d be. You did say you wanted a martini drinking, high heel wearing, cocktail dress swishing kind of mother didn’t you?”

Oh dear. My mother read my blog “Is This Grief” from the other side. She knows what I wrote.

But then, she always said she did. Know what I was up to. And it wasn’t always good, she liked to remind me.

Softly she whispers into my thoughts. “Louise. I know you did your best. I know you wanted to be a good daughter. It’s just the pain and the secrets between us were greater than our ability to see eachother as co-creators of our life together, not as adversaries.”

See what I mean? This is not the mother I remember. My mother never used words like co-creator and she definitely didn’t acknowledge that their was pain we shared. I mean, I was the one who inflicted the pain on her. Right?

Wrong.

At least that’s what she told me during her bathtime visits. To acknowledge ours was a challenging relationship from the get-go and to apologize for her role in it all. (Now that’s something my mother never, ever did in real life. Apologize to me.)

“You know Louise,” she said one day during one of her ‘from-the-other-side’ visits. “What if it wasn’t about my being the mother you wanted. What if it was all about my being the mother you needed to become the woman you are today?”

That one stopped me. Still does. Kind of makes me cry too.

What if it’s true? What if my mother was the perfect mother for me? Just the way she was.

And I breathe.

My mother hasn’t visited me in the bath lately. Last time she was here she told me she had other relationships to tend.

“Relationships are like a garden,” she told me. “You water and weed and tend them with loving care, and beauty will grow. Ignore them, let the weeds overrun the seeds of possibility, and everything will wither away.”

And then she said the words I’ve yearned to hear. The words she used to say all the time. The words I often dismissed and miss so much now. “I’ll light a candle for you and say a prayer.”

She took one final sip of her martini and did that thing only spirits can do. She threw her glass over her shoulder without breaking a shard and said,” My words will always be a prayer of Love for you, Louise. Nothing will ever change that. Especially death with all its deep and mysterious beauty stretching out into eternity.”

And then she, like her martini glass, disappeared into the deep mystery of eternity.

My mother is gone from this physical plane. But she is here. Showing herself in elegant blue wonder in my garden.

She is a candle burning bright in the mystery of life.

I too have lit a candle this morning.

My daughter asked me to light it. To say a prayer for her and my soon-to-be born grand-daughter.

And so I do.

Just as my mother taught me.

Namaste.

.

The Stories Untold Awaken

Nine years ago, I wrote a blog called, “In search of my father” on my original blog, Recover Your Joy.

In it, I told the story of travelling a thousand kilometres from Calgary, to a tiny town tucked into the prairies of Southeast Saskatchewan. Gravelbourg.

Gravelbourg is the town my father first lived in when he came to Canada as a young boy.

While I was there, I wandered the streets my father walked when he was a boy. I visited the cathedral in which he served as an altar boy at mass. I visited the Bishop’s home where he and other boys who attended Collège Mathieu, the boarding school where he was sent as a young boy, sometimes visited with the Bishop who oversaw the district when the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption was the seat of the diocese.

And I toured the almost deserted town of Mazenod, a few kilometres away. I went there because I discovered, via the school records, that my father’s father gave an address in Mazenod as his permanent address while my father was at school in Gravelbourg.

We never knew that, about our grandfather being close by while dad was at school. His story was always that he was sent, alone, to the school and only occasionally saw his Uncle Pat, who lived in Regina many kilometres away, on school holidays.

So many secrets. So many mysteries in the life of my father that will never be resolved.

He had no brothers or sisters. Though there was a half-sister in England who died many years ago. Even there my father’s penchant for secrets prevailed. The presence of an aunt on my father’s side of the family was never fully known by my sisters and brother.

Dad never talked about her. Until one day, he received a letter through veterans affairs. Inside that envelope was a letter from his sister.

My eldest sister called me when she found out. “So. What do you think about dad’s sister?” she asked.

“What sister?” I replied. “Dad doesn’t have a sister. He’s an only child.”

“Not anymore,” my sister said.

I promptly called my father to inquire.

“Her name is Phyllis,” he said.

“Why didn’t you ever tell us about her?” I asked.

“It didn’t seem relevant,” my father replied tersely.

For the next two years, my father and Phyllis corresponded via mail and telephone, both refusing to go see the other, though they both stated they wanted to meet again. Dad’s rationale was always that as she was the one looking for him, she needed to come to him.

The last time they’d seen each other was when dad was shipped off to boarding school from London, England and his mother left his father to live with another man. A man she’d been having an affair with for many years. Apparently, Phyllis was actually his daughter and so, she went with her mother to live in a new home while dad sailed across the Atlantic to take up residence in a new country.

Aunt Phyllis died before she and dad navigated the distance, the years and the pain between them.

My father passed away a few years later and carried the stories of his youth he’d never shared with him.

And still, sometimes in dreams and quiet moments, my father’s voice enters and whispers quietly in my heart. “You are a poet child,” he whispers. “Woven together of the warp and weft of stories threaded through your timeline shivering in harmony with the voices of the story whisperers of the past. Be brave. Give voice to the stories calling out to be told.”

This morning, I went in search of the posts I’d written about my father long ago. Thank you Bernie for your question! Aside from having to ignore the typos, I read the stories with fresh eyes and a heartful of gratitude and Love.

Listen. The muse whispers. The stories untold are awakening.

________________________________

In order of appearance, here are the stories — and btw — if you have never been to Gravelbourg it is a beautiful town set in the vast wild prairies. The cathedral alone is worth the visit!

In Search of My Father

Journey

Father Maillard’s Ode to Joy (This one has lots of photos of the town and the cathedral)

Always. There Is Love.

Photo by Britt Gil

I remember the first time I heard her cry. She was inside the womb. The doctor was about to cut in when he stopped momentarily so that I could hear her cry. Within. My body.

I remember hearing her sweet, precious voice.

And I remember the feeling of Love that washed over me, consumed me and never let me go.

34 years ago today, I heard my eldest daughter, Alexis, cry for the first time. Over the years, there would be many more tears and much more laughter and giggles and lilting songs and poetry read fierce. Sometimes there would be angry words and sometimes, gentle words and sometimes curious words and always. There was Love.

Alexis age 2

No matter the times. The words. The thoughts and feelings. Always. There was Love.

It is her trademark. To love fiercely. In light and darkness. To care deeply. In joy and sorrow. To speak truth. In courage and in fear.

Alexis is a truth-sayer. If you follow her posts on Instagram, you will hear the clarity and beauty of her voice as she speaks truth about the things that matter most.

Motherhood.

Family.

Friends.

Living true and fierce.

About being human. In all our complexities and challenges. In all our beauty and darkness. About dispelling myths and untruths and injustice and racism.

She has always been that way.

Speaking truth so that the light can shine brighter in the darkness of our human condition.

Speaking truth so that we can see the wonder of our humanity.

Speaking truth so that we can create better, do better, become more… human.

She is fierce. She is loving. She is loyal. She is true.

And soon, she will be the mother to her second child. A daughter.

And she will be for her daughter as she is for her son. Loving. Caring. Fierce. Loyal and true.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

It is her way.

It always has been. Because, no matter where Alexis goes. What she does. What she says and writes and creates. Always. There is Love.

34 years ago today, I heard her cry for the first time and in her cries, I felt my heart. Break. Open. In Love.

And still today, she continues to break my heart open in Love. Every single day of her life.

She is the gift whose beauty deepens and enriches my life through the Love she gives so generously and so completely. For always, no matter what. Where there is Alexis. Always. There is Love.

She is my daughter and I am so very, very grateful.

Happy Birthday Alexis!

A Beautiful Mystery

“Raindrops keep falling on my head.” At the park with Beaumont Friday morning.

The weekend started with rain. Heavy. Pour down buckets kind of rain. River running high and fast kind of outpouring of rain.

It ended with bright green leaves shimmering in the sunshine. The river still flowing fast but not as muddy looking. Friends gathered together on the lawn in the late afternoon for a socially distanced visit.

The weekend that was brought much delight. I am grateful.

Sunday evening walk with C.C. and Beau – it’s kind of a standoff — will C.C. come to the ball or will Beau bring it? 🙂

It’s funny, with leaving the formal workplace a year ago, (six days is my anniversary) I’m surprised that weekends still have relevance. But they do.

It’s as if my body, which has spent almost its entire lifetime acclimatizing to weekend breaks, holds onto that rhythm because it’s a habit, and I have done little to change that habit.

And that’s okay.

It’s a nice rhythm and, as the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

The view from where I sit looking up.

Today, the sun shines in a sky that arcs up from the horizon in pale whitewashed colour to a deeper, almost peacock blue overhead. A white wispy cloud slips silently into the space between the leaves of two trees reaching up to touch the sky, its feathery tendrils undulating through the atmosphere like a phoenix in flight. It is here and then, it is gone and the sky is blue again.

Looking out at the river, the leaves on the trees that border its expanse, shimmer and dance in the breath of a light morning breeze and the ever-present squirrels play their prerequisite game of tag amidst the branches.

Wine. Sunshine. Delicious treats and friends. A perfect evening.

The weekend has come and gone. Good-bye old friend.

The week lays before me. A beautiful, inviting mystery.

Hello Monday. I am ready for your delight! Open to your yet to unfold stories. Eager for your unknown moments that will come. All in good time.

In this moment right now, here I am.

And the trees give a little dance. The river flows freely. And the clouds keep drifting on by.

Gratitude. Grace. Joy. Contentment. Love. I breathe it all in.

Ah yes. This is Life.

The Future Is Not Now

Years ago, when I got out of a relationship that was killing me, my future was pretty grim. I was broken. The ‘me’ I thought I was had devolved into the puppet of his command. I had no voice. No sense of ‘I’. No future worth living for.

I had two choices. Stay traumatized. Heal.

Going through that relationship was hard. It almost killed me. Getting out of it, I had PTSD. I had no money. No job. No home. No belongings. Nothing.

What I did have was a miracle. He had been arrested and I knew deep within me, that was the miracle that saved my life.

I could not waste my miracle. I had to choose to heal. How was up to me.

Armed with my miracle and the belief I didn’t get it to live in pain and sorrow, I had to decide to heal. Me. Broken relationships. My life.

My number one priority was to heal my relationship with my daughters. By the time of his arrest, we were estranged. I wanted to be part of their lives again. To feel and share the love that had flowed so strongly between us, before I got lost in an abusive relationship.

To heal that relationship, I had to heal myself first.

To heal myself, I had to choose to let go of the things that did not serve me on my healing journey. Bitterness. Regret. Resentment. Hatred. Anger. Fear. None of them moved me closer to healing. Giving into regrets and bitterness only made me feel worse.

There were so many questions for which I had no answers. How could he have done the things he’d done. How could I have been so blind? So selfish? How could I do the things I did to cause my daughters so much pain?

I had to choose to let those questions and all the heavy, life-sucking emotions that went with them, go. Those questions could not be answered from a place of weakness. I had to grow strong enough to face them without losing myself in their seductive, self-annihilating web of pain.

I could not go searching for answers in the past if I was to build a bridge to a future where I could be myself in all my darkness and light, beauty and the beast, warts and wounds, wonder and wisdom.

The past was too painful a place to tread without the light of love to guide me and the future could not be conceived without Love being my constant companion in the now.

The only place I could find myself was in the now. And, the only thing that could sustain me in the now was Love.

So I chose Love.

Every moment of every day.

No matter how broken and helpless I felt, no matter how lost and afraid, confused or tentative. Whatever I did, I had to do it in Love – with me, myself and I. All of me. The broken down, beat up, worthless feeling me. The shattered me who included the mother who deserted her daughters in the final throes of that relationship because the only way she could conceive of getting him out of their lives was to give up her right to live free of his abuse.

May 21st is approaching. It has been many years since that day in 2003 when a blue and white police car drove up and gave me the miracle of my life.

Time has deepened and enriched my gratitude.

I am grateful for my family and friends who loved me through it all.

Grateful for my daughters whose love, even in their pain and anger, never deserted me.

Grateful for the beauty and joy and Love in my life today. For the wonder and awe I experience with every breath.

And I am grateful I chose to heal In Love.

My life today is a beautiful tapestry of light and love, beauty and shadows that shimmer in the dark corners of my life as well as the wide-open expanses of possibilities unravelling with each new dawn. It is woven through with threads of fierce courage, gratitude and grace, joy and soul defining oases of calm.

It is my life lived In Love.

I still have down days and dark moments. I still experience cloudy skies and murky waters. This is life. Beautiful. Complex. Complicated. Messy.

But, no matter the times or the weather, one thing never fades. The Love that instills this moment right now with such beauty it takes my breath away.

Living now doesn’t mean giving up on the future. It means choosing to fill this moment, right now, with so much Love, the future becomes all that is now.

Namaste

An Image of Love

A collective painting. Created at our wedding celebration, April 25, 2015 by everyone who was there.

This painting tells a story. It is a story of Love. Family. Friends. Marriage. Union. Communion. Hearts intertwining and lives weaving together to form a beautiful, vibrant tapestry of life today and everyday.

It is the painting my beloved and I created, along with our family and friends who had come together on this day, five years ago, to celebrate our union in marriage.

The day began with pouring rain. Cats and dogs as they say.

I was disappointed. We’d chosen Bench 1775 Winery in Naramata, BC because of their deck overlooking Okanagan Lake and the incredible views it offered of the vineyards, the lake and the surrounding mountains.

By 11am I had to make the decision — we would not be getting married on the deck. We’d have to set-up in the tasting room and the tent we’d had erected for the occasion.

By 2pm everything was ready and I raced back to Therapy Vineyards Guesthouse, where we were staying, to get ready. (I know. I left it kind of late but I really wanted everything to look ‘just so’, even if we weren’t going to be out on the deck).

While Charles and his son got ready at the Bench, my two daughters, step-daughter and I laughed and drank champagne as we got dressed at Therapy. The girls did each other’s make-up and mine. Ross, our photographer quietly took photos and Tim, C.C. and my best man, ensured we had everything we needed. Though, getting to the ‘deck’ on time was not high on the agenda, we definitely had fun and were looking ‘smokin’ hot’ by the time we were ready to go.

At quarter to four, the time we were supposed to leave to get to the ‘church’ on time for a 4pm wedding, we still weren’t quite ready. I jokingly said it was, ‘my day’ and I’d be late if I wanted to! (queue It’s my party… though the only thing I would have possibly cried about on that day was the weather but even it seemed to be lifting the shroud of grey and mist that had enveloped the lake and valley all day).

At 10 to 4 a friend text me from Bench 1775 where our guests were all seated, inside, waiting for the big moment. Three simple words. “The sun’s out.” Followed by a series of smiley face emoticons.

I promptly text back. “Tell them to move the chairs outside.”

Momentary silence. And then she text back. “Ok. Done.”

She stood up, called out to the 50+ people gathered for the celebration and said, “Louise wants to move the wedding outside. Everybody pick up your chair and move!”

And so they did. Amidst lots of laughter and shaking of their heads and possibly a few, “Seriously?  What on earth is she thinking?”

Five years later, that day is still indelibly written on my memory. It was a day of laughter, joy, friendship and familial bonds shining in the sunlight that streamed in through a gap in the mountains lining the lake on the western side.

It was a day of vows committed beneath a cerulean sky dotted with fluffy white clouds, vows that continue to reflect and inform and enrich our marriage today.

It was a day to say, I Do.

As I sit in our home today, I feel the power of that ‘I Do’  resonating throughout my being. There is no one I’d rather be sequestered in solitude with during this time of Covid’s forced isolation.

While this virus might be coursing around the globe, our home is filled with the love and wonder of that day. It is imbued with the spirit of the hearts of everyone who gathered together to witness, to celebrate, to share, to dance and laugh and… to create an Image of Love with C.C. and me.

The painting we collectively created hangs on the wall as you enter our front door. It is a reminder of the one thing that endures, sustains. nourishes and abides no matter the weather or the times, no matter how dark or easy the path, no matter where in the world we are.

Love.

 

 

The Heart Never Forgets

George P. Gallagher
April 15, 1948 – March 17, 1997

 

The Heart Never Forgets
by Louise Gallagher

There was a time,
when your words and the things you did made me laugh
a time when your smile felt gentle on my heart
like warm spring rain after a harsh winter.

And then there are those times
when your words pierced my skin
slicing as sharp as a dagger to an apple’s core
leaving my heart exposed to the harsh cold winds of your anger.

There was a time.

Those times are all gone now
ended when your life careened, out of control
like a bullet racing steadily towards its target
on the road to forever gone.

I would take them all back
the good times and the bad
the laughter and the fights
I would take them all back to have you here again.

But there is no going back on death
No rewinding of time to get back those long-ago days.
There is only this time, flowing ever onward, relentlessly
carrying me towards the day when I too shall be, forever gone.

There will come a time when I will meet you there
on the road to forever gone. And when we meet, you will smile
and the past will be forgotten and our hearts will remember only
that which the heart never forgets, Love.

___________________

Perhaps it is that my brother loved to have a big fuss made about his birthday, at least until he started seeing signs of what he didn’t want to see, getting older.

Or perhaps it is that his passing was St. Patrick’s Day and I am wary of mixing laughter and good-times with the day he entered the realm of the ‘forever gone’.

Or perhaps, it is that his death along with the death of his wife, Ros who died in the same crash, was such a trauma-filled time, a time of grief and anger, of broken hearts leading to a broken family circle.

Whatever the reason, it is always on the day of his birth that his memory is strongest. A day I was not there for because, as I always liked to remind him, he was much older than me.

It is hard to imagine my brother at 72, which he would have been today. His memories are frozen in time, his face captured in photographs that ended on that day in March when time stopped moving forward for him, and we began the journey of learning to move on without him.

It was just before his 49th birthday. My sisters and I used to joke that George wouldn’t have enjoyed his 50th. It was too clear a delineation between younger days and older ones to come. He would not have liked the reminders that would have tumbled in on waves of love and laughter from his family and many, many friends. But we would all have loved the opportunity to get back at him for the countless pranks and jokes he had played on all of us.

It would have been my brother’s 72nd birthday today.

He is forever gone, as is the past. Today, my heart only remembers him with that which the heart never forgets, Love.

 

In Love, fear doesn’t stand a chance.

Easter Sunday.

No brunch at the golf club today. A family tradition gone by the wayside under Covid’s watch.

No family gathering – at least not in person.

The world is silent. Streets remain empty. Few cars. Few pedestrians.

Shuttered behind closed doors, we wait.

Behind the front door of their home in Vancouver, my eldest daughter and her family wait. Not just the Easter Bunny to arrive but for the arrival of a precious, beautiful baby girl.

My eldest daughter is pregnant. Her baby’s due date, July 9. But, they’re pretty sure she’ll have to deliver 3 – 4 weeks early via C-section due to a liver condition that can appear during pregnancy.

The other day, I was telling her how I am consciously choosing to not think about the arrival of my granddaughter. “It hurts too much to think I won’t be able to be there,” I tell her. “Yet, not thinking about her means I’m missing out on the excitement, the anticipation, the joy her birth brings into my world.”

I must let myself feel. All of it.

I want to compartmentalize my feelings.

Good ones in this wide-open space of my heart beating wildly free. Hard to cope with ones over here, in this lockbox of steel and titanium.

This infant will be coming into a very different world than her brother entered just over two years ago. He too arrived early, but his world was filled with touch. Laughter. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews gathering to meet him, to hold him, kiss him, ooh and ahhh over him, cuddle him.

My granddaughter’s arrival will not be filled with extended family gathering to meet her. There will be no baby shower. No gathering of family to welcome her home. My daughter must cope with the losses amidst the beauty of giving birth.

There is so much missing. So much that will be missed.

But there is one thing that is not missing. There is one thing that will sustain and support my daughter, her family and their precious newborn as they adjust to bringing this new life into the family circle.

Love.

It is always there. Flowing. Embracing. Filling each moment, every heart.

I must remember the Love. Feel it. Be it. Carry it. Hold it with outstretched hands across the Rockies, the interior valleys up and over the Coastal Range to their home by the sea.

I must hold out Love. Hold onto Love. Be Love.

When I think of my granddaughter’s arrival, I want to wish away Covid, wish away self-isolation, wearing masks, constant washing of hands, avoiding physical contact with others, avoiding groups and Zoom calls in lieu of person-to-person gatherings.

I want to wish it all away.

When I think of my granddaughter’s imminent arrival, I want the world to be different. To be less scary. Less one enormous danger zone.

I want what used to be.

I can’t. I can’t wish away Covid and I can’t have what used to be.

I must breathe into what is and remember the Love. The Love that is always present. Always here.

In Love, my heart beats freely. In Love, fear doesn’t stand a chance.

I may not be there to hold her in the first few days of her life on earth. I may not be able to be physically there to help my daughter and her family during their first days as a family of 4.

And my heart aches. I feel the sense of loss. Of sadness. Of wishing that times were different.

And I remember to breathe.

In. Out.

Deeply. Slowly.

In. Out.

The ache eases. It is less pressing, less frightening.

And that’s when it comes to me. The realization that not thinking about my granddaughter gives the virus more power than it deserves.

Yes. This tiny, invisible to the naked eye microbe has changed the entire world.

Yes. It has caused massive suffering, death, economic hardship, mental anguish and a host of other dire things.

But I will not let it steal my joy. I will not let it take away from me the gift of family. Of being present to the anticipation of new life. Of rejoicing in an infant’s arrival on this earth.

I will not give this virus that power.

______________________________________

I awoke this morning thinking about the arrival of my granddaughter and feeling somewhat sad about these circumstances that will inevitably still be in place when she is born.

And now, as always happens when I write it out. I feel more hopeful. More centered. More ready to start creating different pathways to experiencing the excitement and beauty of this time of waiting and her imminent birth.

If you have any ideas on how to adjust ‘what used to be’ to create a loving way in the here and now of being present within her imminent arrival, I would be so grateful for all ideas.

It’s time I let go of ‘not thinking’ and became engaged in actively thinking about ways to celebrate her arrival and her life.

Namaste.

__________________

And for our Zoom-in family dinner tonight, I decided to create family bunnies to be at the table with us.

Doing this gave/gives me great joy.

And I breathe.

My daughter and her family in Vancouver

The last photo is the alcohol ink on yupo paper that became the bunny for Alexis.