Out of the Embers
We all experience stressful or even traumatic events at some point in our lives. Death of a loved one, divorce, and illness are tests toward our ability to cope and overcome the suffering. Each of us will go through some form of grief, we are not exempt. It is part of our natural life course. It may also be viewed as vital to our ability to become more resilient beings. Perhaps part of our moral imperative. I view testing times as opportunities to grow deeper spiritually and connect closer to our divine purpose. Although, this perspective was not part of my younger years and it certainly, does not suggest that we do not grow spiritually through joyful moments. Falling in love and the birth of a child are celebratory gifts that offer us hope and keep us inspired. Without celebration we would have no desire to wake up each day and work toward goals and aspirations. A life filled with suffering and absent of joy would be torment. Celebration and struggle are often shared experiences. Being connected to family and friends is what makes celebratory moments special and times of struggle more bearable. The birth of a child is often announced and welcome news that brings love to the newborn and new purpose to the parents. Likewise, the love and compassion of family and friends can help ease the pain of the loss of a loved one. The broad and sweeping impact of the Covid-19 pandemic brought isolation and uncertainty not only to individuals, but to countries, hence the term pandemic. Seemingly overnight, we were forced into isolation for the sake of public safety and in that instant celebrations and trauma were to be endured alone. The pause button was activated, and no one really knew what to expect.
Coping is an individual process, complex and multi-factorial. Although basic patterns have been identified, how each of us grieves is as unique as our fingerprints. Thus, through the Covid-19 isolation coping and grieving varied from person to person. Some people are stoic and able to appear as they are in complete control while others appear to crumble and become unable to function at even the simplest threat of discomfort. Some people turn to their faith while others may separate and go within. What is important to remember is that each of us is different and no matter how we respond to life’s events no one way is better. Choice must be respected.
I have endured much trauma in my life. Childhood abuse, poverty, sexual harassment, and intimidation rooted me in feelings of inadequacy. It seemed I had to fight for everything I wanted yet never felt I deserved anything I earned, except for pain and suffering. In my memoir, aptly titled Wearing a Mask Called Normal, I describe my life as waking up daily and putting on the best mask to fit the day. I became the role I needed to be for the moment, but never believed in myself or my accomplishments. It is curious the world’s perception of you is often not as seen through your own lens.
Mother’s Day 2020, Coronavirus peaking, was not a day of festivity for many. Families were suffering and people dying. It is difficult to feel joy on a holiday when you are consumed by empathy and concern for others. However, like any other Mother’s Day, my children generously try to make me feel special and this alone trumps any gifts purchased or dinner’s out. This Mother’s Day was even more special because my family remains healthy. I wouldn’t believe any gift could add to my gratitude during this testing time. But my eldest son proved me wrong. He shared a gift that moved me more than I thought possible. Not only because it was created by him, but because it made me take pause and deeply reflect on how the story of a crisis during my young adult life has profoundly impacted him more than I realized.
My son wrote a poem to honor me for the struggle I endured when he was abducted as a small child many years ago. A poem that describes in his words how he feels about the story that he experienced but was too young to remember. A moment in my life that tested my resolve and unfortunately left my son with a divided family which could not mend. And so, it is written:
Two year old child.
Taken in his youth.
The disgraced father affixed the noose.
An anguished mother left morose, weeping as her soul necrosed.
Weeks had passed and not a sight.
Her tears fell into forlorn night.
The hiding man that dreamt up a lie.
No questions son your mom has died.
A discovery one day made by a hired sleuth.
To her child she went to make a truce.
“Give me my son,” while the wife seduced.
But at Hudson’s first sight she had to run.
Vows cut short from the abduction.
Distressed from her course up River Styx,
and injured battling with Cerberus.
With son in arms she began to pray,
and because of her I’ll always say.
Decades since that Amber hue.
Mom, we passed the test, and I love you. D.L.
The words of a young boy with an absent father written three decades later. My first-born son who struggled to understand why he had no dad, translating within his psyche that he was unworthy. He was unloved. I tried to fill that gap. I could not be dad. But I could marry another man. One that would never replace his biological father or heal that wound, but one that certainly did love him. Does love him. Yet, the scars of our childhood cut deep. The pain continues and the inadequacies seems to build upon another. Childhood abandonment, childhood abuse whatever its form, has real and devastating impact on us which carries with us into adulthood. No therapy takes that pain away. It explains it to us. It tries to alleviate our suffering and it does help. But it cannot eliminate our pain. Only we can do that. And most often we will not release that pain until we are older, more mature. During the time we begin to see the world through a broader lens. Perhaps when we see our self as part of a greater plan. A soul with a mission and a purpose. Brought here to learn lessons and to teach. To celebrate and to suffer. Nearly three decades later, my son puts to paper his interpretation of my experience and in that moment, he is lightened. He releases his burden. I am healed. He helps me release my burden. Student and teacher. Woman and mother. Man and son. Victim and Advocate.
In this gift I am honored and better able to appreciate the courage and strength within me. The courage and strength that is within each of us, but not always able to be revealed. In this message, I hope you can be lightened. Clarity be revealed and appreciation that our suffering is not for naught. Celebrations are more precious when forced limits are imposed. Covid-19 brought isolation, despair, uncertainty and it forced pause globally. As the pause lifts, the uncertainty will continue. We never know what the future will bring, but the pandemic brought this concept front and center. There is no escaping today's uncertainty. But in truth, uncertainty has always been. We cannot live in fear, nor are we meant to. We must live with regard for public safety and do our best for self and others. Finding the balance between concern about disease transmission and desire to live freely has become our new normal. There is no one size fits all answer. In closing, I pray that the transition out of the Covid-19 syndrome is as smooth as possible. I offer much love and will always be an ear to those in need. I can be reached through thesource-ny.com.