Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One Year Since

"Here is the world.  
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  
Don't be afraid."
Frederick Buechner

It's hard to believe it's been one year since my Grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  Five years after she had conquered it.  Around that same time I found myself pregnant with Bodhi.  Needless to say, it's been a rough and beautiful year in many ways.  But if there is one thing my Grandmother taught me, it was not to be afraid.

Fear is not something that should make you cower.  It's there to show you when you're at a crossroads and have to go beyond it.  Further than you think you can.  Fully experience it.  Even when you think you can't.  It makes you tender, not hard.  That kind of strength is within us all.

She showed me even when I didn't think I was paying attention.

That was the kind of strength I needed to care for her and support her in the decisions she made, and make some decisions I never knew I would have to.  Of course there were moments when I would dwell in fear and cry and cry but shutting down was not an option.  I was taking care of her, my two-year old, unborn child, myself and our home.  I was needed like never before in my life.

She knew I was pregnant and that was something beautiful to talk about.  In fact, there's always something beautiful to talk about, even the sad stuff.  We were close, we talked and I saw her often but the last weeks were different.  We didn't pretend it wasn't happening, but we didn't make it the center of every conversation.  We held onto hope.  The kind of hope that only endless love knows.

I made time to feel it and be in the experience with her.   We sat and talked like we never had before.  I am eternally grateful she opened up like I never saw in my life.  Many hours we just held hands or I watched her sleep.  We would look at pictures and tell stories.  She'd skip lunch but eat the cake.  She would watch Z play, just absorbing his joy and beauty.  Tears of joy and tears of sadness were shed.

She shared things with me I never expected, but am glad she did.  It made me sad when she told me she always wanted to go back to Hawaii and never had.  But it made me happy when she talked about the most beautiful vacation she had ever been on there with my Grandfather.

She was strong, held onto all dignity and never complained even a little.  Not once.  I don't know how she did it.  But she taught me something while she did it.

January 26th, The last afternoon I saw her we were alone, and she was half in and half out of this world.  Her room was filled with pictures and objects that were dear to her.  There were three pictures at the foot of her bed.  One was her and my Grandfather smiling (her about my age) and her parents.  She looked at me more peacefully than she had in the month since she had found out the chemo wasn't working.  She said with a half smile pointing at the pictures, "They're with me everywhere I go."  It was the first time I felt like she had found peace.

One month to the date that the doctor said she "probably has a month to live" I received a knock on my front door about five in the morning.  It was my dad telling me she was gone and we could go say goodbye.  I immediately felt the loss in the depth of my being but I also felt her with me.  I quietly slipped out of the house and held her hand one last time.

She's still with us to this day, just not in the way she always was.

Having the grandmothers I had, and now being a mother, makes me a stronger woman that I ever knew I was.  I am always opening up to unknown parts of me.  Especially when I'm not trying to.  Life's lessons are deep in the marrow of our being.  When we need them, they're there to provide strength.  It's funny when I recognize something that they taught me or catch myself doing something that they taught me when I didn't know I was absorbing a thing.  It makes me quietly smile knowing they're with me.

When I peer quietly into my children's eyes I feel the love of the whole universe, the one that my Grandmothers are still a part of.  It's something I never experienced until I had children and even more since I lost my Grandmother.

It also makes me realize that every action I make is being watched carefully and every thing I do is teaching my children.  They are little sponges and mirrors.  I can teach them strength or I can teach them weakness.  It's up to me to pause when I'm at the crossroads and choose a direction.  I can also recognize when I make a mistake and not be afraid to backtrack and choose the other way.

I am grateful for my grandmothers' strength, my children and Zen practice.  They help me be and accept the woman that I am and things they way they are.  Mistakes and all.

**The picture above is "GG" (as Z called Grandmother), me and Z on her 80th birthday at our house.  February 14, 2009.**

No comments:

Post a Comment