Today would have been my mother’s 87th birthday.
This has been a hard week for me, starting off with Mother’s Day and now this. For others who’ve already mourned the passing of parents, I can understand the feelings that these types of days can amplify. It hasn’t been easy, going through the “firsts”.
The following prayer, by Naomi Levy, mostly says what I’m feeling. There are parts I would edit, add to…but, I thought better of it, and decided to leave it as it is. I’m sure many, if not all, have had the good and the not so good we see in our parents. We live the stressful times when they are with us. Time to let them go now that they, too, are gone.
“I miss you. You gave me my life. You were my protector, my teacher, my moral compass, my comfort. I feel so alone without you. No one worries about me the way you did. No one loves me the way you did.
Please forgive me for the times I caused you pain, and for the times I took you for granted. I can’t begin to fathom all the sacrifices you made for my sake.
I want to thank you for all the ways you blessed my life. Nothing can replace the gaping hole your death has left in my life. But mixed together with ll my sadness, there is a great joy for having known you.
I will remember your smile, your touch. I will remember your laughter, your kindness, your generosity, your determination, your love.
Thank you for the time we shared, for the love you gave, for the wisdom you spread. I will always treasure the lessons you taught me. i will carry them with me all the days of my life. I am so proud to be your child.
May God watch over you and bless you, with gentleness and with love. As you blessed me. Rest in peace. Amen. ”
~from Talking to God, by Naomi Levy (c)
Quote by Neil Gaiman
Art (c) DC Comics
So, here we are. A week I’ve been dreading, as I mentioned on Sunday (which was Mother’s Day). It’s now mid-week, and the presence of this coming Friday looms over me. As I’ve mentioned previously, this May 17th would have been my mother’s 87th birthday. It’s a sad week, not as horrible as I thought in those regards…
Today I had a mid morning break. I sat in the school library, trolling the internet for work to apply to. A teacher was already at one of the computers when another came in. Instantly, their conversation was solely on recent deaths in both families. There was nothing for me to do but log off as fast as I could and bolt from the room. I was propelled down the hallway, looking for some refuge. It just came out of nowhere, and the feelings just caved in my head a bit.
Just not what I was expecting. School is full of life; all the little ones just bouncing off the wall. Being aware that it is all about them, their safety and well being, was a saving grace.
Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to Friday.
As to disappointments…I have, since Sunday, received about six rejections from jobs (not even an interview, just that my credentials do not meet what they are looking for). Today, I got a call from a job for the summer (and possibly beyond) that I had high hopes for: they did offer me the job, but only 12 hours a week at $25/hour. Yes, it’s better than nothing, but I have another offer that at least will give me more of a weekly wage during the summer.
So, others would say (and I know who they are) that I should be happy that I did well on the interviews I’ve had and have gotten offers. So many others don’t even get to the interview stage. I get that…it’s just I see a dangling rope in front of me, and while I may grab it, it ultimately is not strong enough to pull me out of the dregs I’m in. Enough metaphor?
I did get a one week residency that will help my June out, so that is a good thing. When saying my prayers, I asked God for some break…this definitely came out of no where and is most welcome. So…thank you, God.
“I am weary, God; please renew my spirit. When I despair, fill me with hope. When I feel as if I have no more to give, remind me that my strength comes from You. When I assume that my energy is finite, teach me to see that I am connected to an infinite source of inspiration and goodness.
When I lose faith in myself, remind me that I am blessed with enormous talent and ability. When I get lazy, remind me that there is much work to be done and that there are many people who need my assistance. Teach me to see that my efforts do make a difference.
When I forget why I am doing what I am doing, help me to recover the excitement, the meaning, and the satisfaction that led me to this work. When I lose direction, show me the way, God, back to passion, back to enthusiasm, back to You. Amen.”
~from Talking to God by Naomi Levy (c)
Some of my closest friends lost their mothers years ago, and I’m only now realizing I did not take that into account (or I don’t remember if I did) the pain they might have felt, the loss, on Mothers Day. I know it grows more difficult around holidays, and on the birthday of those who passed. Rich, Sam, Barbara, Kim, Molly…I’m sorry if I didn’t extend myself to you during those times. No excuse. I just hope that it is easier for you all, and you retain fond memories.
I have the double whammy this week: Mothers Day today, and then this coming Friday would have been her 87th birthday.
I want to thank Doug for sending me the above photo and saying, and reaching out to me today, knowing this would be a tough one. He spoke of my “inner circle of friends”, and he needs to know that though we’ve never met, and have not had the depth of experience together, that I truly consider a kind soul like his to be part of that inner circle. Thank you, Doug.
Came The Wind, a very short piece I wrote for Tale Spinning yesterday, was driven by how I’m feeling. We’re left to go on, and to deal with our own feelings and memories. Not all are pleasant ones: it is up to me on how I deal with them, and how I let them go. It’s all we can do, as we continue on, and hope that when the day comes when we are no longer around, we leave more good memories than bad.
Happy Mothers Day, Mom.
“I really want this job, God; I need this job. Help me, God. Teach me to believe in myself, to see that I am qualified for this position. Calm my fears, God; soothe my nerves. Let me enter this interview with assurance and confidence. Let me speak my mind; let my thoughts flow freely.
Remind me not only to talk but to listen. Show me how to impress without seeming pompous, how to be agreeable without seeming ingratiating, how to be enthusiastic without seeming desperate.
Be with me, God; fill me with strength and faith and light. Let me shine today, God. Amen.” ~from Talking to God, by Naomi Levy (c)
I’ve written out the prayer above for a number of people:
My son came into NYC for an interview: they flew him in after already having an online first interview. He was told that he did well by the people he saw on this trip. If he got the offer it would be great on many levels: for his overall job satisfaction; taking care of a number of financial hassles; and their moving into the area, being closer (right now they are a 7+ hour drive away).
I am sending out prayers and wishes for Rich, Jay, Kim, and Sam as they continue/begin their search for new work, ones that are fulfilling and offer them the peace of mind that they deserve. It is hard to look for something new during these times, but when you have to, you have to. *I feel like I am forgetting someone in this, and if so…let this extend to you as well.
As to me, I’ve had another interview, and two calls of interest. The two calls are in my discipline (theater), with the other at least meeting a love I have (of books) in a job I had done part-time before. Making it full time would not be the worst thing in the world.
I just want to not have to worry about paying bills. I’d like something steady, which I never thought I’d say. I thrived, for years, on working piece meal, cobbling an artistic life through performances, workshops, residencies, and the odd part time job. It kept me busy, solvent, and was always challenging. What I’m doing now just isn’t. So…that prayer above:
I do know I’m qualified for the jobs: it is just all the rest. Making sure I do my best on an interview, presenting what I can do in a way that says “you need me on your team!” I’ve been in the top two or three for a number of jobs over the last 8 months: I’m tired of being the also-ran.
It’s time I was the “chosen one.”
If you are looking for a job, I hope this helps you. If you know someone who is desperately seeking, please share it with them if you feel they will benefit from it.
“You have blessed me with many gifts, God, but I know it is my task to realize them. May I never underestimate my potential; may I never lose hope. May I find the strength to strive for better, the courage to be different, the energy to give all that I have to offer.
Help me, God, to live up to all the goodness that resides within me. Fill me with the humility to learn from others and with the confidence to trust my own instincts.
Thank you, God, for the power to grow. Amen.” ~from Talking to God, by Naomi Levy (c)
I found a letter yesterday when going through yet even more papers that my mother saved. She wrote it to me in 1983 when she was very angry with me. It was never given to me: I found it amidst an assortment of bills and receipts, photos and greeting cards. At first, I started to read it. I decided I’d leave it for later, but in flipping through it a word struck me towards the end, and I read the last page. She was writing that the good qualities I had were in no small part to the way she raised me.
It ended with “I love you but I don’t like you.”
That ripped through me, as I’m sure it would anyone else. I flipped through, scanned, saw what she was angry with and did not read anymore after that. The negative feelings of that time period. those words, affected a good part of my day. In trying to deal with it, I talked to a few people. The hurt, thirty years after it was written, was too alive at the moment.
One friend said (and I’m paraphrasing): “you’re not looking at the whole: she said she did love you.” That is something I’ve questioned for so long, simply because so much of my mom was bitter in her later years; it’s hard to remember anything other than the negative side of her that I lived with for so long. Rabbi Pam has remarked, as has the therapist, that I hold onto the personal hurt too much, not anger towards another, but the slight and hold it as “truth” in this present moment. In actuality, those hurts are in the past, and should remain so in their own context.
It’s a negativity loop, and I really want to break that habit.
I can easily excuse away anything that has happened, but that is not helpful either. This goes hand in hand with the question of forgiveness: how to forgive myself for things that now are long gone, and can do little or nothing about them. If I learn from it, that is a positive thing, and that is what I’m trying to do. I am sorry she felt that way, and I wish we had the relationship to talk things out, but, as was her want, she would rarely tell the person she was having an issue with how she really felt. She kept it inside most times, and it ate at her (or, in this case, wrote it out, which was not like her at all: I wonder if she really intended to give it to me and was either talked out of it by someone or thought better of it).
So, looking at it from both sides, she wrote of the positive and the negative that she saw in me. We all have that in us; I guess I am glad that she did find the positive traits in me. I know the circumstances of that time period that angered her so, and I also know that there is nothing I can do, now, but to learn from this again: don’t hold things in and let them eat at you; don’t carry a grudge; find some way to let yourself accept, let go, and move on.
I’m still working on the forgiveness to self part.
Etched into the faceThe eyes The shoulders, tensed Fingers rigidly grasped Broadcasting Observed, Those who see Who are aware Who open up beyond themselves Who are concerned. Unfathomable to so many An abyss lies before them What they see is the darkness That they detour Avoid Move away from Not understanding The darkness is the abyss As the abyss is that someone Who could not detour Avoid Move away Who is in that abyss Plunging down. Light comes in many forms But it has to be taken in Wished for Prayed for Delivered By one’s own doings It is a burden On top of so many others. *************************************************
This is my 100th post since beginning this blog on November 18, 2012. I began this a month after my mother passed away; I had been writing, but my feelings and such were mixed in with my creative writing on Tale Spinning. You may, or may not know, that the Rabbi I had just begun seeing. She asked me to try and write in the first person, not hiding anything in my fiction. As that was not what Tale Spinning is about, I created this blog four days after meeting with her.
What does this mean for me? 100+ days have passed (as I have not written every single day, though I have tried) since starting this blog, plus the extra month. I wonder if this blog has just about run it’s course, and I ask myself that on the days that I feel I have nothing to write, nothing to give. I know I will not place an extra burden on myself by continuing this just for the sake of continuing. It needs to have meaning for me; this has never been about getting a large number of readers, but just a way to find some catharsis in releasing, in self examination, in being as open and honest as I possibly can.
I hope that while I continue this it remains helpful to others. Some have written to me, either here or in private communications, telling me that this has been important for them, in various ways. For that, I am glad.
I want to thank: Rabbi Pam for (inadvertently) starting me on this path; all my friends, whose caring has helped see me through this dark time; and you, the readers who I’ve gotten to “know” through comments and those of you who read but keep to yourself. For all: from Talking to God, by Naomi Levy (c):
“Please, God, help me to recognize my strength. May I always remember that no matter how far I have fallen, no matter how bleak my life may seem, no matter how lost I feel, that I can always begin again. Amen.“
Thank you for being here with me. I hope you find the strength within yourself and are able to continue sharing it with others.
“How are you doing?”
It haunts, dragging me to the ground
It stings, re-tightening the chest,
It churns, causing my stomach to roil
And my head hangs low
And my eyes are downcast
And whatever else shuts down
For whatever liveliness that still resides drains out
Puddling, dripping, pouring down an abyss
For you feel helpless
For you feel hopeless
For you feel numb
And the platitudes keep coming
For few really want to hear
How you really, really, really feel
For they can’t cope with rawness
And hope they never feel the same
Never have to confront that pain
How are you doing?
Another piece from Tale Spinning.
While not feeling in the same mode as I was when this was written, it is still a question, or variations of it, that I’m not wild about hearing. I get tired of shrugging my shoulders, mentally &/or physically, about answering how I’m feeling. Still a lot to process.
Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.
Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.
“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never. Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?
Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.
And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.
Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag. He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds, and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.
I wrote the above for Tale Spinning, my creative writing blog, originally on November 11th. This was the post that spurred Rabbi Pam to ask me to write in the first person and not hide behind any fiction. It was less than a month since my mother’s passing when I wrote this.
I’m going to copy and paste some of that work up here over the weekend. I don’t have a lot of time to write this weekend, so instead, I’ll post what others might not have seen. Since they were the genesis for Opening of Doors, I think it’s only fitting some of the work comes here.