“You are the bows from which your childrenAs living arrows are sent forth The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite And he bends you with his mightThat his arrows may go swift and far.”-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
If she were still in physical form, my mom would have turned 85 today. Throughout the day, I’ve been reflecting on how I can continue her essence and influence in this world through the qualities we shared and the inner work I do that helps to complete or extend what she was able to do and be in her lifetime.
My mom was exceptionally sweet and caring, often putting others first. She was the one everyone went to – the listening ear who always was there for you and had your back. Just like her mother (my grandmother).
But I get the sense that other people’s issues ultimately were too much for her. She absorbed a lot of other people’s pain and suppressed her true feelings. She didn’t express them, to please and keep the peace.
I come from a lineage of exceptionally sweet and caring women who would bend over backwards for you. And I’ve inherited that trait. There have been times in my life when I fought against my wiring and rebelled against my mom. I didn’t want to be like her.
But in some ways, I was. Most of the inner work I’ve done so far in this lifetime has been around developing healthier boundaries. At times, my empathy has been weaponized by others and has caused (me) a lot of suffering. Like my mom, I often kept my feelings to myself, to avoid hurting others or making waves.
My mom was the one everyone turned to – the go-between when people couldn’t talk to each other directly. Since she passed away, it seems I’ve taken over that role, although I don’t want it. I’ve often thought that if this is the position my mother was in and the way she felt, no wonder she got sick.
Several years ago, a relative had a session with a psychic medium who emphasized that my mom is watching out for me and doesn’t want me to follow in her footsteps. She wants me to express what I’m feeling and not hold things inside so much, like she did.
Years after my mother and grandmother died, I’ve come to the realization that all the work I do to communicate more honestly and develop a stronger backbone benefits them, as well. It’s as if they’re standing behind me, rooting me on: “Maybe she’ll be the one to do what we weren’t able to do” and heal the dysfunctional patterns. I feel I’m carrying them with me (like carrying an unborn baby, except kind of in reverse, if that makes any sense) in all the healing work I do, and I find courage to speak my truth instead of holding it in for our sake, not mine alone. Our inner work generates ripples of healing that touch both future and past generations.
I can’t pick up the phone and call them like I used to be able to, but I can express love and relate to them in new ways. This has been one of the great revelations of grieving.
People are often surprised to learn my mom and I didn’t have an easy relationship. When she was alive, I experienced her as sweetly controlling and was busy pushing back against her and trying to be different than her. I didn’t make it particularly easy for her. We were caught in a dynamic. It’s amazing how a relationship can evolve even after one party dies. I feel so close to her now and have tremendous compassion and respect for her.
This morning when I thought about it being my mom’s birthday and how I’d celebrate, a voice in my heart told me to look at today’s card. I have a thick stack of inspirational cards, and at the beginning of every month, I count out enough cards for each day of the month. I don’t look at the cards ahead of time. So after hearing the voice speaking through the telephone of my heart, I went to my card display and moved yesterday’s card to the back of the stack, to reveal today’s card.
It was a cartoon with a speech bubble that read, “I am always here for you,” captioned with the words, “Listen to your inner guide.” I had some music playing in another room, and when I entered that room, the lyrics being sung were, “…words my mother said to me.”
We still celebrate my mom’s birthday – though this year we’re postponing it a couple of days, to include my almost seven-year-old granddaughter. She loves to celebrate my mom’s birthday – not just because of the cake but also to hear the stories. She seems genuinely curious about her great-grandmother and seems to feel connected to her. We’re always telling her how much my mom would have loved her, and it’s so true. It’s uncanny how alike they are! I can’t believe they never knew each other. They would have been like two peas in a pod!
My granddaughter is the kid in school who asks other children if they’re okay and comforts them. She notices and appreciates something about everyone she meets and is highly empathic. She explained to me that one of the “bullies” in school is bullied by his father. One day, his father came to school, and she heard him speak disrespectfully about his son. So she understands why the boy bullies classmates and has compassion for that. We’ve had many conversations about having healthy boundaries with people who don’t treat you right. My deep wish is for her to develop wise (rather than foolish) compassion, sooner than I did.
So all the work I do to have healthy boundaries and not intercept other people’s drama will benefit her as well. Someday when I have passed on, I will stand behind her and root for her arrow to go as far as possible. I can’t imagine wanting anything else.
When my daughter was in labor about to push out my granddaughter, I held up one of her legs. On the final push, I felt my mother behind me, as if she were hugging me from behind, and it seemed to give my daughter a blast of energy to push her out.
I sense very clearly that our ancestors are with us like that, helping us and cheering us on – and that we can call on them whenever we need them. And reciprocally dedicate the merits of our deep, inner work to them. For love continues to evolve and remains a two-way street.
Happy birthday, Mom.
© 2022 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.