Before the year’s end I was so excited about Christmas, soaking up the wonderful blend of rituals that my German mother was so good at conjuring up. I hope I am transmitting that kind of magic to my grown children and they to theirs. I will have to wait and see. Then my 81-year-old mother fell and broke her hip just before Christmas, the dear thing. For weeks I drove back and forth to the hospital and the rehab place — contemplating her mortality as well as mine. Not exactly the sentiment I wanted to carry into 2019. And then again, thinking about death can also be the very thing that illuminates what really matters in life.
My mother is back home now and in fine form, directing her daughters with endless to-do lists — the kind that make you say, Just shoot me, already. Then I catch myself. We are entering a fragile decade.
In The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, the meditation teacher Frank Ostaseski, writes beautifully about the grave losses as well as little deaths that happen in our everyday lives. I think about my daughters who are both off to college, the new wrinkles that appear when I weep or smile, and the absence of noise. He writes about an undying love:
Every time we experience a loss, we have another chance to experience life at a greater depth. It opens us to the most essential truths of our lives: the inevitability of impermanence, the causes of suffering, and the illusion of separateness. We begin to appreciate that we are more than the grief. We are what the grief is moving through. In the end, we may still fear death, but we don’t fear living nearly as much. In surrendering to our grief, we have learned to give ourselves to life.
Ask yourself: What does it mean to live fully?
Matters in Kind
It so happens that a journalist interviewed me months ago about grown mothers and daughters. I had completely forgotten about it. Her story is on Today.com: 5 ways to have a better relationship with your mom. Reading my own words made me reflect: I should listen to my inner voice more often.