When you were a child, I would sometimes tell you that you were teaching me how to be a mom. Then, when you were about 10, you stopped me with this: “Wait a minute! Does that mean Joe gets a better Mom than me?” Your thinking was always a step ahead of mine.
Throughout life, you challenged me, laughed with me, forgave me, and told me what you needed. I did the same. When you were about 16 and our relationship was strained by your need for independence and my need for parental control, we each read and then discussed the book Parent Effectiveness Training based on the concept of mutual respect. It helped us understand what we were not getting right. That’s how much you cared. Even at 16, you were engaged enough to read that book so that we could negotiate strategies to benefit us both.
Since you left in 2015, you continue to teach me how to be your Mom. My first words upon learning you were gone: “I forgive” not sure who or what I was forgiving. Then the knowing: “There is nothing to forgive.” Then wisdom: “I understand, Ron.” Then the wrenching grief: “Oh I am so sorry. So sorry.” Sorry for anything I did or did not do that brought us to this moment. And then, the plea: “Dear God, If You will help me through this, I will forgive everybody everything forever.” Your powerful love and spiritual essence led me to that understanding.
How often through the months and years, have I rocked and cried, “Ron, I am so sorry. So sorry” over and over. And I would hear you, “Oh Mom, you’re so roughed up,” your words for anyone in pain, “So sorry you’re roughed up, Mom.”
Now that I am about to enter my 6th Mothers Day without the flowers, the Phillies tickets, or just the right card, I know more deeply how you are at my side. You rescue me from despair.
You are there with our ancestors, holding and lifting me when it all becomes overwhelming. You have done that from the first moment when my shattered heart instinctively provided the words, “I forgive.”
You inspire me to be strong and brave so that, even in the agony of the grief and loss, I love, cherish, and value my life. This is because I know you are beside me, near as my shoulder, like a soft breeze against my cheek. I consciously live my life in a way that would make you proud of me, even as I grieve and long for your presence, your touch, your laughter. It’s like we have a pact. I am your voice; you are my inspiration.
You give me the courage to be free in ways that I might not otherwise be. Because of you, with your brother beside me, my soul could be seemingly lifted to heaven in South Africa at the sound of the Soweto Gospel Choir singing “Hallelujah,” I am a stronger advocate for justice, Joe and I created a music video of Alexander Hamilton and, in another music video, the joyful audacity to dance with chickens!
Everything I do, I do for you, for my healing and the healing of the world. My heart, you and the world are one entity. I claim that for my truth.
Because of you, everything I undertake is holy and sacred. Because of you, I need not fear. Because of you, when I mourn, my lament reaches a depth I never knew could exist in one human body. Because of you, when I laugh, I laugh with a freedom that comes with the certainty that joy still lives at the deepest core of my being. As an ancient psalmist wrote, “Weeping may endure the night but joy comes in the morning.”
Healing does not mean an end to grief. Healing can mean the possibility of a fuller embrace of a love so profound and a grief so deep that both are transformative and redemptive.
I believe that receiving you into my womb, birthing you into life, nourishing you from my body, loving you through every age and stage then, through a world of tears, accepting your return Home is, after all, the one singular act of perfect love attainable in this life.
You continue to teach me, Ron.