As the plane relinquished it’s contact with land, grief surrendered my body. Breathing the knowing that the physical evidence of death was far below on the ground created space to consider things from a less encumbered perspective. The pain filled heaviness that has plagued my body for months now lifted for a few glorious days of embrace and welcome of a fresh perspective. One that felt lighter and allowed consideration of the colors, shapes, and textures that form the many things that are good and certain about life at this time.
Of course, coming into the house after such a wonderful weekend of remembering what it feels like to be loved and cared for only to discover that Mom and Molly had not returned in my absence, made for a challenging re-entry. It only took twenty minutes to be reduced to sobbing like a broken desolate child. Once the sadness tank was again empty I picked myself up, headed out into the sunshine and mowed the lawn. Watching the unruly grass being buzzed back into order brought a parallel process to my emotions. Knowing that I had glimpsed the future made the present far more bearable.
A curious state continues. One in which, more often than not I am considering my life being governed by guidelines, or principles and less by rules, or restrictions. Initially this felt terrifying. It is now beginning to feel like something that is pretty exciting. More on that next week.
At the same time, as is often the case the past, present, and future often overlap. And so it happened that the day after my return, my cousin’s beautiful wife brought over an album filled with the incredible black and white images of mom and my day in the life photo shoot. That morning I spoke to a friend on the phone who said but you sound so much better and had a great time are you sure you should do this today? From a deep place, without a hint of hesitation I knew. The page is continuing to turn and before it lands completely on the next, I would rather pause here to re-consider once again what has been rather than be pulled back to this place from somewhere else.
Mom and I had talked for some time about having someone witness on film a typical day in the life we lived together. Unfortunately, although many people offered to help their availability existed in a future I was certain had already passed. Fortunately for us Chelsea had stepped up. She spent the better part of a day, two weeks before her wedding and one week to the day before my mother’s death, photographing us. Mom was aware of what was happening. The morning Chelsea arrived she said, “I feel silly, but I know this will help after I’m gone. Who cares what people think. I won’t be here to have to see them. I say do it for you.”
Watching the entire slide show for the first time, with Chelsea next to me, I was reminded of the strength and love of, for, and with my mother. The sheer effort of will that she summoned to prepare for the arrival of her grandchildren later that day to see Cirque du Soleil, when she was so obviously weak and tired is exactly that which I need now.
I share some of these images with you here. Not to re-visit sadness, but in the hopes of fostering new visions of strength, love, determination and life. May the slowness of the everyday bring you to a place of peaceful recognition about what is good in all our lives.
Gratitude and love to Chelsea Levine – witness to our life, and creator of the photographs you are about to see. The photos chosen are excerpted from the over 400 images that Chelsea produced. Special thanks to Lynne Rome, my mother’s dear friend, who joined us for lunch. The music is Gabriel’s Oboe, excerpted from The Mission.