So many thoughts are tumbling through my head this morning as I think back over the years of my life. Some of those years have a theme; 1963, 1968, graduation years, 1990 (my son’s birth), 2014 and of course 2016 – endings and beginnings. Losing my father in 2014 left a huge hole in my heart and like my mother’s death, caused me to question my beliefs, yet oddly, confirmed them at the same time. I have always been spiritual, but never fond of organized religion. I had imagined that I would feel my mother’s presence in the months after her death, hear her voice, know she was there – it didn’t happen and I was shocked. I realized over time that it wasn’t a lack of presence, it was lack of recognition. I had failed to recognize those moments – the tiniest of tugs, the wisp of the wind, a white butterfly swarming around me, 2 white butterflies the day after my dad died, an aroma, a song. Small moments of connection. What has been most challenging for me is how easy it is for time to pass without me thinking of them. I have heard people say, “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about them”. That is not true for me. Days and weeks will pass and I am not conscious of thinking of them. Then that tug, that song, that wisp of the wind reminds me. Is it you Mom? I can almost hear you saying, “how dare you forget about me, I gave you birth”. Or is it you Dad? “It’s okay kiddo, you are a lot like I was.”
Knowing that my own son will likely experience this when I am gone quickly brings tears to my eyes. I like to think he will know that I am always with him, but my death will also create space for him – endings and beginnings. One great thing about endings is the beginning; nothing ends without something new starting. As much as I miss my parents, there is an odd freedom in being parentless for me. The cloud of their perceived judgement has drifted, dissipated. Funny, I was the one who put the cloud there. I was the one who could have sent it packing. I was the one wearing the ruby slippers.
It is hard, nearly impossible, to understand the existence of possibility in the throes of an ending. I just have to remember that there are endings that are joyful and I have to relish those, like August 9, 1974. I look forward to another ending like that, hopefully this year, because I know around the corner will be a new beginning.
Sherri Walker for the Poplar Grove Muse