By Laura Samper G.
Love After Farewell
I don’t have to close my eyes to see you.
When I do, I go back in time and touch your hands, remember the smell of your hair and feel how my little head fit perfectly in your chest when you hugged me.
Your embrace was the safest place on earth. No matter what I did, what I said or what I thought, your heart was my refuge. I was not right or wrong in your presence, I only existed and this was your joy. My heartbeat was your favorite music. I was your treasure.
I used to imagine how it felt living inside your tummy and the things you went through day after day to bring me with you wherever you went. Was I too heavy? I asked with humor. “I was so happy to have you that those were the most beautiful days of my life,” you answered with such grace. And of course, I was really heavy.
I still don’t know the joy of being a mother but I had the privilege to have you as mine.
They say you don’t get to choose your family but I think I chose you. I chose the happiness of seeing your smile. I chose your wise words when I was being completely irrational. I chose your sacred touch on my skin when I fell from the swing time after time. I chose your caress at night when I had bad dreams. I chose your delicious breakfasts and the excitement in your eyes when I asked for more. I chose your spontaneous laughter in the middle of a long day.
I chose your advice when my heart was broken. I chose your dedication for creating the most outstanding Halloween costumes: I was an ancient queen, a big strawberry, a beautiful flower and the quickest ninja. I chose you as my guardian when I didn’t want to cross that big bridge over the river. I chose your silence when I wronged you. I chose your strength when our family faced a crisis. I chose your elegance and your refined beauty. I chose you as my nurse, my best friend and my unconditional ally.
I chose the light of your heart, your openness and your innocence. I chose your loyalty and humility. I chose your bed at night when I wanted to hide from the world. I chose our trips to visit your family. I chose your clothes to feel like I was a grown-up. I chose to be part of your world, where God was always present. I chose your trust that whatever might come would be for the good. I chose your example for reflecting my true self. I chose your tears when I ran away once, twice and even three times.
I chose you knowing that you would leave me someday.
Yes, I did choose you as my mother.
Your birthday was three days ago. This is the first time I could not call you, send you flowers, squeeze you or take you on a nice trip to the beach. You left 11 months ago, after giving the most admirable fight against cancer I could ever witness. You were such a warrior. Yes. You were the most honorable fighter and I was your perfect companion. And since I can’t reach you, I write you this letter. The celebration of your life is my gift to you.
Now, you’re the one living inside me.
The Meaning of Resilience
I’ve never written about this until now, and I must say it’s not easy. Remembering my mom brings a deep sadness and I don’t think these feelings will go away any time soon. However, this has helped me discover a new depth in life.
I’ve known friends who have lost their lovers, their families and even their identities. All of them have something in common: the amazing power of their will. It’s like this great energy was there all along and then suddenly it reveals itself.
I don’t think that you need to go through a very hard time to realize this, though.
What I really found was an amazing strength and a great resilience. From somewhere deep within me, I discovered an intense light pulling me forward. I realized I could actually deal with her absence, and in the process share the experience with others.
Death is inevitable. It’s the only certainty, the only sure thing in life. But, it feels so unknown and is so misunderstood. It showed me a great potential for resilience, a great courage to move on with a new perspective on life.
And this is the best way I could find to pay tribute to my mother, by living the peaceful, fulfilling life she always wanted for me.
I like to think that this is the greatest and most challenging gift. Only through death may you know what life is. It’s a divine reminder to stay present and awake.
Death on the Spiritual Path
During my first Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat, I attended the most beautiful lecture on death. It was like having a warm conversation with an old friend.
According to my teacher, the greatest gift when you face a loved one’s death is the fact that you also face your own death. However, especially in Western traditions, death is taboo, a distant subject that is usually avoided.
“Accept what seems unacceptable, because this expresses total surrender,” my teacher continued. “In that intimate feeling, you’re completely present.”
I also remember that when I was younger my father used to tell me, “You should know that death is the only certain thing in our lives.” Live life to the fullest without being scared or fearful, but live in such a way that you experience detachment in all your endeavors.
I’ve realized that in feeling the pain, I let go of suffering. The more I allow myself to feel her absence, the more I feel her love as well.
So, How Do We Let Go?
Just by feeling each emotion, each memory and actually enjoying your tears. Yes, I said enjoy. There’s no need to give room to attachment, especially if the person you love left his or her body. Every time I catch myself longing for my mom to be here with me I feel bad as If I was making her stay with me instead of rejoicing because she’s now at peace.
Letting go means to be thankful. It means to be intense, to allow your emotions take over and then, just rest. I try to give myself space and time when I need to feel whatever pops up. Sometimes it is anger, other times it is grief and sometimes it is infinite gratitude. I allow myself the tears, the pain and the laughter, they are also part of this experience. And this is my advice to you: when you feel the discomfort coming welcome it with open arms. Receive it as you would when your best friends are coming to visit. If you need to get out of a taxi and walk, do it. If you need to stop working, leave it. If you need to go solo for the weekend, give yourself that gift. You’ll see how all the negativity you thought you were experiencing was just a glimpse of the glorious light beyond the effort.
And next time, when you feel like you can’t let go of a silly fight, a breakup, a job, your anger or anything you feel you are holding on to, remember to do this:
Choose one hand, left, right, it doesn’t matter. Pick a piece of paper, a stone, a pen, whatever you have around. Now, clench your fist as hard as you can. Ready?
Open your hand in one movement.
Just like that. You let go.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead says:
All things are impermanent, and all things die. You know this. It was only natural that your mother died when she did; the older generation is expected to die first. She was elderly and unwell, and will not resent having had to leave her body. And because you can help her now by sponsoring practices and doing good actions in her name, she will be happy and relieved. So please do not be sad.
I don’t have to close my eyes to see you.
I am present with your love.
I can feel you now in every wave of the ocean, in every movement of the wind. I see you in the shiny stare of strangers, I hear you in the music of crickets at night and I watch you in the dance of birds when sunrise comes. You are all the colors in every flower and every leaf. You are in the infinite sand on all coasts. You became part of the rain and the dark skies. You are also made of joy and sadness. You are the palm trees that surround my home. You are in my eyes when I see the beautiful stars at night. You are also one of the planets.
And when I close my eyes, I sense you in the fire of my heart and in the mysterious ways of my breath.
You are the stillness of this silence.
Our love is alive, stronger and more vivid than ever.
You live inside me.