Rest In Love
“Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.” ― Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz, me thinks ya nailed it. Some of us get started early with the lesson of loss. Others are blessed enough to live without the suffocating scent of loss until middle age. As with everything else, loss has a defining olfactory imprint. The scent is best described as a thousand dried, crushed roses with the top note of wilted carnations left too long in the sun. A cloying, pervasive potion. It’s overwhelming. A hard slap and a sucker punch at once. Stunning. Shocking. Your knees give out and down you go. It leaves you breathless. And you don’t care because you do not possess the energy to breathe anyway.
Two weeks before my second birthday the Mother that gave me life crossed over. Twenty years ago today the Mother that raised me followed her older sister into the ether and on to the great “whatever comes next.” I had two Mother’s, Betty-Jane and Christina. I only had one Mommy. The sister that raised me, Christina.
I have shared tales of Christina here in the past. Some of you reading this blog had the gift of knowing her.
Mommy was born during The Great Depression and was in so many ways a product of her era. In so many more ways she was nothing like other woman of that era. Christina had a quick wit, a quick temper, and a heart quick to offer its goodness to anyone lost and in need of care. There would be no lost angels left behind on her clock. She would not have it easy. She rarely caught a break. Her health was always a challenge. Christina never got over the loss of her sister Betty-Jane. Blind sided by this loss in her young twenties, Christina understood exactly what it meant to hurt the hurt of the damned. What it felt like to cry rivers of tears with no hope of ever stopping the pain. To have blues so blue it makes you see red.
Her compassion for our lesser brethren was unparalleled. She believed that no matter how bad you had it someone always had it worse. And the person that only had it bad should be grateful. She taught us to care. Care or else! We never wanted to know what the or else was. We just “acted right” cause it was expected and that was enough.
Christina volunteered her time and soul to the mentally ill and aged. She ran a special program through Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Mt. Lebanon, PA at an asylum known as Woodville State Hospital. The patients were gifted with gatherings that provided a delicious meal and entertainment. Sometimes that entertainment was me. I would show up to the party, play my Goya guitar, sing gospel music and Bob Dylan tunes. The party goers were given gift bags throughout the year filled with everyday necessities. Rolls of dimes and quarters to make phone calls to loved ones on the pay phone. Clothes, shoes, accessories, and framed art that covered the walls of the hospital. Pretty pictures to lift the spirit and distract a troubled mind from trouble. If anyone had a special need that was brought to her attention Christina made sure it was taken care of.
Isn’t it a wonder how a broken heart can inspire another heart to mend? Mommy was a champ at it.
Resurrection is the only gift loss has to offer the grieving. Who did I become after my Mother crossed over? A motherless child that walks the world alone. A woman that shows up and shines no matter the circumstance. A fearless truth teller. A lover of all that is real, and true, and fine. Twenty years ago today my heart was broken into pieces by the death of my Mother. Recently, I have noticed that the pieces are held together by thick veins of gold, filled with wisdom, humor, and light. Thick veins of gold named Christina.
Rest In Love Mommy.
Sending… Love, Light and Oceans of Bliss for the Highest Good of All.
And so it is!