As I gaze upon a black and white photograph of my mom I wonder, what would she think about the current state of affairs ?
I imagine her rolling her eyes, fixing a strand of her hair (as she always did when trying not to say exactly what’s on her mind) and finally, after only a slight delay, she’d blur out something fantastically sarcastic and unexpectedly funny.
And that’d be it. We’d all get the point, and not only because of what’s just been said, but the eye-rolling was an unmistakable sign that this is not the time for the victimhood chatter.
When I was about ten years old, mom sat me down on a swing in the garden and after we had both stared at the dog running around for a while, she showed me a picture of a baby girl.
No, it wasn’t a photo of me. Long before I was born my parents had a baby girl, a precious little thing they couldn’t wait to take home and love. She passed away a few hours after birth due to complications with her lungs. My heart stopped for a moment and then I bursted out crying uncontrollably. When I finally gathered myself together I turned my face towards mom and realised that she was smiling and looking at me as if I was overdoing it.
Surprised, I asked if she wasn’t sad and as she nodded in agreement she responded that the sadness was overwhelming, but there was something bigger and stronger that she clung on to then, and always.
I didn’t realise it for a long time, but throughout my life, there was only one place in which all my troubles absolutely had to end. Always. Until I arrived at that spot there was no chance for a calm sea in my view. Mom wouldn’t let go for as long as I was hanging on to the pain, anger or any kind of a blame game.
Now, as we are caught in the middle of this hostile world-wide isolation, I know exactly where my inner voice wants to guide me.
We are in this together, but on many levels, as we dive deeper into our inner dialogues, we realise how scared and lonely we feel. We might be locked in our homes with the people we love, but this doesn’t feel like togetherness. It feels more like waiting for an asteroid to crush into our homes.
Even those that are together feel lonely while they cuddle up to their fears.
But I don’t.
A few weeks after my sister died mom had a dream. She was climbing a mountain and came across a river. She noticed a movement, two big strong fish were swimming against the current. When she woke up in the morning, she had a deep sense of knowing that she’d go on to have two strong children. And she did.
So what exactly was she clinging onto ? Love, she said.
I didn’t quite get it then.
But whenever I recall going through hardship, being excluded from a project I hoped to lead, abandoned by a boyfriend who, in my mind, was perfect or lost in a foreign country on a school trip, I’d call mom. And mom would always support ME, but none of my confused stories about how alone I am in the world.
She’d have me sit down and write out answers to the same three questions.
What do I stand for?
What are my priorities?
What can I learn about myself as I look back at the situation?
Mom never stood for crying over spilt milk. Not because she thought that dwelling on the past is a waste of time. But because she wanted to bring me back to the sweet spot of the source of love and strength in my life.
No, it wasn’t mom. I am the source.
The most powerful lesson my mom ever taught me was that all love is self love.
We don’t need someone else to pick us up, to brush off the pain or stitch up our wounds. We already have everything we need to navigate through any adversity that might come our way.
Others don’t give us love, but they can make us feel in a way that inspires us to spark up like a christmas tree and bring our own love for who we are up a notch, or a lot.
The love we receive is the same love we give. And this is the key to building an undestroyable fortress of trust within us. Trust that whatever happens, it always turns out to be a platform for growth. Trust that I always have a choice. Trust that I can never be alone, because the love is there and therefore I am always in the company of the person that loves me most.
If mom was still here, she’d probably learn two languages and write a book in one of them by the time lockdown ends.
And if you’d say anything along the lines of “This is amazing, how did you manage to do that ?”
She’d just roll her eyes.