Before dawn 21 years ago today the call came that my mother had died. It was not a surprise; she’d been sick for the better part of a year.
I left home in 1972. It was my mother’s fondest wish that I return, but I had a career and had built a life–several, really–and to be honest, as Bob Dylan once said, I was born a long way from where I’m supposed to be.
Still with me
My mother may not be here in the flesh, but she has been with me every single day of my life, including the years after her death. I carry her heart with me everywhere I go. I have thought about her at the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Sistine Chapel and the slums of Mumbai. She’s been top of my mind in Maui, Paris and the European Christmas markets. And of course she is with me every time I go someplace we explored together in northern California.
She would be thrilled that I live in our home town.part time. I’m sad to not have the pleasure of her company in the physical realm.
Before they buried her, I took a white rose from the spray on her casket. I carried it, too, with me all these many years and it’s with me now, in our hometown. Today, I’ll find my way to a place near Lake Ontario where I can remember her and scatter those now dried rose petals. Because, Kai Skye is right: love doesn’t end simply because someone is gone..
Loss is loss and grief is grief
Maybe you haven’t lost a loved one to death yet. Maybe you feel another loss. The loss of the hopes and dreams of a romantic love that can never be. A friend you thought was forever and now isn’t.
I’ve had those losses, too.
But here’s the truth: That love is still there. You don’t stop feeling it just because they’re gone. Love is a one-person thing. You feel it. It doesn’t matter how they feel or even what they do. It doesn’t matter if they’re here.
It only matters that you feel it.
So maybe today (or another day this month) you’ll find a way to memorialize that love you still feel for someone no longer in your life. You might like to honor your love for them with some kind of ritual, like lighting a candle, burning a stick of sage or saying a prayer. You can create art in their memory. Or frame a photo. Or even write them a poem or a letter. You can even burn the letter, sending your loving wishes for them up to the universe. Even just saying the words, “I carry you with me” is enough.
It’s an honor and a privilege to carry the love we feel for others all our days. And to that end, I’m reminded of a poem I love by e e cummings:
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)