DEEPLY AWAKE – THE LOST
We are, each one of us, lost.
Each of us disconnected, willingly and joyfully, we came here and donned the veil. We convinced ourselves that the veil making everything we touch, sense, taste, see was wrapped around us in a permanently maddening way, and that the only way to find any peace was to venture without, amid the folds of that veil, and out there find peace, find some salvation out there.
In a smile. In a home. In a pet. In work. In child rearing. In study. At church. At the office. At the bar. At the farmacy. Anywhere. The veil is out there, and good is out there too,
So it went.
We took it on, this veil. I think, though, that as the veil has lifted, as the curtains come tumbling down in my life now, I see myself primly lifting my bent fingers to my head, and there is my burka. Buttoned to it is my veil. My hands, knowing a truth I do not posses, nimbly unbutton this veil from my headscarf.
Long ago, I, myself, put this veil on my head.
I walked for five decades cursing the darkness and hating those who pressed up too hard against this veil, smothering me, unaware of the horror my face was expressing, knowing only their own blindness, their own darkness.
I was given gifts this morning, and while unwrapping them, up my mother's face came.
My mom. My impenetrable wall. My greatest koan. The one whose role it was to soften the blows life was to deal me, constantly in the corner, frowning in a detached way, looking out the window, smoking and wishing she was anywhere else.
I remember little kindness from her. I remember judgment. I remember never being good enough, tame enough, happy enough, girlie enough, never enough. No one and nothing gave her peace, although she tried it all.
Such exquisite love I had for her, never expressed, always rebuffed. I saw her pain every single day, the pain she punished me for recognizing, the pain to which she could not admit, only submit. That pain wove itself through all our endeavors, all our adventures, and all our crises as a family.
The funny thing is, when I look back and past the strum und drang, I want to say that the overall, true and clear signature of our house was humor. We four all have wicked, intense, dry, expansive and imaginative sense of humor. The four of us, I think, energetically agreed to use humor as a way to wink at each other through all the trauma and remorse. Because I will have you know, for every upset and outrage, there was laughter later. We made up for it. Raised on National Lampoon, Monty Python, all the greats, we consumed humor the way we consumed our food and drink... with insatiability. It was not optional... humor was our language.
Humor reminds you that a sacred cow is still a cow. And humor makes anything bearable. We three remaining are living proof of that.
Always I have resented that she didn’t really want to know me, and when she tried, she would always walk away from me mid-sentence.
My mom was so sad. So tenderhearted. So hurt. So abused. So degraded. She knew so little peace. She was not loved or honored by her husband or by her kids. She ruled over us with deep silence and disappointment and sadness.
This morning, remembering her, I remembered what it was that turned my heart on this spring. In a moment of ecstatic bliss, I saw, understood, truly and forever understood, that my dad, when he came here, took on a role I would never have agreed to. He too has had a hard road, one which we all drove on, in our car, in our metal can on wheels, the fours of us. Disjointed, doing harm to each other, and never, not once, not even once, really and truly and singularly seeing each other.
Today, I realized something about Mom that I'd understood months ago about Dad.
Mom volunteered to come here, and she took on tremendous challenges, such heartbreak I cannot, will not speak it, it is too sad, too shocking. She took it all on. And she folded into herself. She lived her 61 years sad and unfulfilled.
Had she had committed herself to self discovery and self forgiveness, I would not have come to know isolation. Had she agreed to joy, I would not have known constriction. Had she been able to see me, I might never have taken down this ratty veil of mine.
I'd come to look upon her life and her death and her then forever absence as an undone sentence, a participle dangling from my tongue, tripping it into spitting words of rejection, suspicion, futility.
I didn't understand until this morning that she was, is, always will be now, a Bodhisattva of a magnitude I may never reach. She chose to walk in the desert 61 years. She died in a hospice bed, a shell, the picture of agony, of desolation, of solitude. The one person who she looked to for strength was busy that day, as he was most days. She died while being repositioned, Mary and I downstairs smoking, knowing the end was near. The workers knocked on the window, motioned to us to come upstairs quickly.
Mary and I got there and Mom then took her last breath. Her face was contorted and purple, she was in her moment of extremity. And then it was over.
It was over.
As we packed up her room, after that last act of the play, I saw all of her clothing and little travel-sized grooming items as simply props that were no longer applicable. They had meaning while she was alive. This was her lotion, this was the nightgown I went to Kmart that day to buy. This was her ring. And then, the moment after, these were meaningless items, out of tune with the new music pumping through our hearts.
And this morning, I understand that my mom and my dad took on much more darkness than me, and they are bigger angels than I, because their pain went on without end. My dad is awake now, and he is peaceful, happy, whole. He is a human angel, I know that. It matters not what dramas we put on in the houses my sister and I grew up in. It matters not, at this point, who was bullied, and who was the bully.
It is so sanctified, so unspeakably holy, what they did for me.
I cannot see my mom as small anymore. I cannot see her life as a broken one. I see her choice to be continually betrayed and disappointed and hurt, this life of hers ground on and on, and we were all ground to glass with her.
And here I am, on the 15th of November, her birthday, remembering her, knowing her to be holy, understanding the energetic favor she did for me, knowing now that only a great soul would live such a sacrificial life, and I know a stillness, a balance, that has heretofore eluded me.
Her constructs and her expectations her disappointments and hobbies and pursuits and humor, her allowing and giving nature, her constant ever present permission for us to orbit around her, all of us lost to ourselves, and each of us blind, bumping into each other, bruising and cutting and breaking each other, there was a purpose for each of those days, each moment sanctified, every action, every reaction, scripted in a soulic way bringing us to this day, a day that, in a different reality, would find me gleefully readying my presents to take to her on this, her 73rd birthday.
I am a mother now. I have cast off the devices and constructs I grew up with, that old rickety framework of disappointment and rejection, of things never quite being right, always darkness lurking in the hallways, setting traps, surprising us in our joyous and calm moments, reminding us that we are not here to be happy or fulfilled.
Those days are over.
I have been blessed beyond measure, and my blessings took the form most would not recognize as holy.
This morning, realizing how much my mom really did love me, so much so that she found no peace at all, to give me this wound of incompletion, and these joyous days of healing, I see that this new age is here. I am changed forever by these moments of bliss. What looks like an plain, older woman sitting through a grey dawn, on her bed, looking out her window at her tree, and crying... this old woman is brand new.
I can hold no anger toward the lost.
The lost among us, the ones who reluctantly hold their palms to their heads to make sure no one unfastens their veil, I love them the most now.
They are sacrificing themselves daily. Their unhappiness and rude anger is a clarion call to know the greatness of their own soul, and invitation for all who encounter them to wake to more love, mercy, forgiveness.
I could not have known this light without having had my eyes held so tight. I could not have known this delicately indestructible joy had I not believed that my desperate sadness would, one day, kill me dead.
Never despair! Never curse your blindness! We take on this pain to know its mate. We come to do this magic contained, isolated, questioning our sanity and worth.
I can't prove any of this. But I know it all to be true. And I know, deep in my sane and true heart, that none of us, not one of us, not one, is truly lost.