Today is the 9th anniversary of my mother's death.
I panicked late last week. January is filled with all sorts of dates - I am friends with a few Aquarians, plus the new year, plus some people have died in this month, though most significant by far is my mother. I thought I had missed the anniversary, which normally wouldn't bother me too much - I think about my mother every day. I don't have to set aside a day for her. Yet, this year, it feels significant. I finally did the math and realized my day off was her day. Today.
I got bronchitis late last week and have spent the last few days at a retreat (mentally), then, recovering in retreat (physically) from the world. I was sick a lot of my childhood - my mother's chain smoking with me-as-mini-woman-in-womb, plus in our house constantly with windows closed really did a number on my lungs. I haven't had bronchitis, though, in five years. The last time I caught it, grief caught up with me after graduation, scrambling through the south of France, hoping to find myself with some lackadasical young man in tow. Recently I have really realized how I speed through everything - especially relationships. I had a dream this week that everyone I have ever loved gets into a car with me, and I am driving, and I am always speeding even at the start. Most of my lovers have jumped out while I was still moving, still desperate to make it work. My mother died my freshman year in college. I get the sense - a blameless, spacious sense - that she was ready to get out of my speeding car at that point. Her job was done, as it pertained to me.
One major topic covered on the retreat I attended this last weekend was learning to stay, then, bringing abiding (a sense of staying) out into the world. My old therapist used to talk about being both the watcher and the watched, about being both the audience and the stage. This analogy appealed to my narcissism, but like most things she taught me, I now see that that appeal was - dangerous, not quite accurate, and loosely off-base. We were instructed this weekend to not see ourselves as two parts - as the watcher and the watched, for instance, rather, as one. One presence. One abiding body and mind. Because I was very miserable this weekend, it was easy to look for causes - one woman began to speak to me of chakras, of the lung and heart chakra, and another scoffed (Buddhists are, by habit, good skeptics) - the second instructed me to be wary of how anything can be used against us, and she was right, for in the past I have been apt to take instructions, guidance, healing properties and turn them into jagged knives against myself. A friend had warned me earlier on last week against moralizing my ailment - and this came back to me full force. I am sure there is a connection - grief and lungs are tied together in all sorts of eastern healing traditions - but there need not be blame in that.
To be awake is not to be self-conscious. They seem so close - conscious, self-conscious, seeing as how so much of our perception of any given situation is composed of us-ness, me-ness. However we can perceive behind, beyond, in between this. Not exclude the self - no watcher/watched, rather, involve in good proportion. Infections take time. Healing takes time. Grief takes time. Gratitude takes time.
Today, for the first time publicly, I thank my mother for all that she gave me.
Last night I wrote her a letter - today I planned to deliver it to her grave, but my lungs are clearing and I no longer feel it necessary. I send this out to her over the intertwining nets, the ironies of the internet - Tricia Leanna Reilly Hall, you made me from parts of you, and I may not have liked them all, but I am grateful now.
I've got nothing to lose. And I'd give it to you.