This is an entire article, full of love and hurt and grief and grace. Ultimately, grace.
I’ve highlighted the points that spoke most directly to me- but let me try to honor your most thoughtful story here.
First, you are so right. Americans- with the exception of immigrants who have brought their rich cultures with them- deny the existence of death. We rail at it, deny its existence, and yet we deal in it all the time. as bloody as our history is, we have no way to gently honor those whom we love as we wipe out those we feel are inferior. That lack of sensitivity makes us brutally incompetent to handle the very real challenge of those whom we love who succumb. There is no training, there is no process for us to travel by someone’s side as they enter another world. Without this we are utterly helpless. So many cultures honor death as such a critical part of life- without death we can’t live. Embracing the honor in this is part of our ability to be fully human. A full life must have an ending. Nature depends on it. Yet we constantly discuss how to prolong life, prevent death, anti aging this that and the other as though there was some
As with your immensely talented mother, mine was too. Both- and countless others- forfeited their gifts, ambition, and potential in order to give us life and lessons. Many, like your mother, my mother, so many other mothers suffered abuse of all kinds by men who took, abused and then discarded them. Some were serious offenders, like your father. In my family it was my brother. Different times, different laws, as you say. Who knows what the world lost as a result of the prices these women had to pay in order to give us direction, hope, and as much love as they had left.
Too many of us don’t turn the hurt we suffer into compassion for others. What is so brave about what you say is that indeed, without those experiences we simply cannot put on another’s pain, see it, feel it, and offer comfort through the genuine depth of compassion. That is what we pay for our perspectives. This is the lesson of grace. Too many of us don’t achieve that because we use our experiences to justify bitterness, hatred, revenge and anger. Those things that happen in our lives are not for us at all. They are there to make us useful to others. You got that. That’s the very definition of living grace.
Finally, your last paragraph. I have no children. No family. I have a BF but there is no guarantee whatsoever he will be there at my ending. What you gave your mother is the ultimate gift: a safe, loving environment to put a gentle end to those things that she felt she needed to close. Surrounded by people who love her, given permission to move on, made warm by forgiveness, she took her leave of you in an atmosphere of love.
We should all be so fortunate. Ultimately that is the single greatest gift we can give anyone.
It isn’t just love. It’s permission to leave us, when their work is done.
What an exquisitely wonderful piece. Thank you. You absolutely made my day.