Friday, March 1, 2013

A Lesson in Love

Sitting by my mother’s bed at the hospital, my heart is filled with emotions. Mostly love, and deep grief from a new threshold passed over a few days ago. My mother‘s stroke has left her unable to speak. Monday morning, she and I had been singing together La Java Bleue over the phone. When I saw her yesterday for the first time since her stroke, she recognized me instantly and smiled, with one tear out of the corner of her right eye. It hit me right there, the immensity of her love, and of my love back to her. The nurse said it was the first time they had seen her open both eyes since she got admitted Tuesday night. There is no telling whether she will speak or move her right leg again. She makes grunting noises when I put the phone on her ear and my brother speaks to her.

Sitting by my mother’s bed, my mind takes me to hard places, mostly memories of when I rejected her   love, and I was not there for her. Of course, I thought had reasons every time. I dismissed her as too anxious, too dependent, and wanting to live her unlived life through me . . . I wished for her to be other than she could be, less depressed, happier, less demanding of my love and my brother’s love. I moved far away, five thousand miles, to live ‘my own life’. This is what the mind does whenever it is intent on closing the heart. There were also the times, more recent, during the beginning of her Alzheimer’s when the illness exacerbated those traits of hers, and I did not know then the real cause, and I reacted unkindly. There is no rewind button on life. Instead, one is left with the karmic consequences of past misdeeds and missed opportunities to love.

Sitting by my mother’s bed, listening to the monitor’s beeping sounds and the commotion in the hallway, I take refuge in practice, and decide to turn the guilt that besieges me, into a teacher of love. No need to keep adding more misery, this time self-directed. Guilt, rightly understood, is a call to move forward with the heart wide open, and with mindfulness. Using the sting of regret as a constant reminder to guard from the mind’s deceiving ways. Dwelling in love, at this moment, first for my mother, and also myself, I feel a shift, an immense gratitude for this one more gift from her. And I review all the gifts she bestowed on me starting with the gift of life itself.

May she be at peace, and at ease during this transition.
May I also be at peace, and at ease.

And may this serves to help you love better, more often.

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