“In the gardens of memory, in the palace of dreams, it is there we shall meet.” (Alice in Wonderland)
On the afternoon of my mother’s passing, I went by the lake alone to sit and gaze into the soft ripple moving against the shore. Since childhood, it has been my favorite place to rest, read, and be alone. I would often gaze at the beaver hut and wonder how industrious it was and what could be happening underneath the water. Lily pads dotted the water’s surface. Stalks of cat o’ nine tails grew defiantly. They are said to be common in a “who would care about them” way, but I thought of them as elegant and interesting. Occasionally, fish would jump up to catch a bug, and frogs would sun themselves on the rocks.
At this spot where water meets the land, I had a large boulder on which to sit. As they did on this particular day, expansive, low-hanging pine boughs hung over me from ginormously tall trees. Here, I contemplated deep thoughts, like what makes an adventure an adventure or how soon it was to dinnertime.
On this particular day, as I stood on the moss-covered rocks that kept the boulder company, I could hear a message in the gently moving boughs. They whispered, “Don’t worry; all will be well.” I leaned into the gentle caress, feeling it as a warm hug. I remember the experience as though it were just yesterday rather than twenty years ago. The moment reminded me of when I would lay on my mother’s lap, and she would smooth my hair.
I knew the message was from my mother. It would have been her way. She loved gardening, reading, and everything the lake had to offer. I was always near or in the water, so she would have known where to find me.
Two decades have passed, and I still miss her, but I still hear and feel her near. I often talk with her and say hello to her smiling photo every morning. Death, as we think of it, doesn’t mean the relationship ends. My friend has expressed that death is where “grief and happy memories collide, and you feel lonely, but still, a presence remains.” I love that.
Like water washing up against a shoreline, grief changes us, sometimes graphically and sometimes nearly imperceptible, but it does change us. It causes us to go deep into a well of feelings that we didn’t know could exist. Yet, when we take the time to work through it (and it is definitely. a work of the heart), we rise out of it. It will often leave us gasping for breath, but eventually, we learn to make it part of our breath.
I was going to write about one thing this week, yet I have been moved to write something different. I hope I have not disappointed you too much and that this will have hit its mark with Mother’s Day soon to arrive.