It's funny how we offer up a prayer, expect an immediate response, like a text message from Heaven and when it doesn't appear we think "oh well, maybe next time", and return to folding towels.
Some days I am so sad I can't breathe. So are you. I am not self absorbed enough to believe that my pain is worse than anyone else's or that I deserve special attention because my heart is broken for the moment. We will all have pain.
I miss my Shannon and my Mom. I have said it a million times and I often worry that I appear stuck or pitiful or that you will turn away because you have had enough... but I will probably say it a million more because it is true...but that is not the sum total of my life....it is simply the breath of today and today's prayer spoke to those feelings of lonliness for the two women who gave me life.
This afternoon I walked into the grocery store. Am I the only one who takes comfort in the smells that waft over you when the automatic doors open? Chocolate cake, strawberries, rotisserie chicken, coffee, tomatoes... it's intoxicating and for a moment I froze beside the pineapples, thinking I might be a little crazy. Overwhelmed with a sense of absolute gratitude that I have never been hungry, I whispered a prayer for the many who are and squeezed an avocado.
Oprah interviewed Maya Angelou. I love them both. We don't necessarily have a lot in common. I am not black or famous or wealthy, and I didn't vote for President Obama but I felt connected as I listened to them talk and laugh about their lives and loves and mistakes along their journeys.
What started to awaken in me was the realization that I have a tendancy to focus on what hurts. Maybe we all do, I don't know. It's like having a canker sore and having to put your tongue on it....repeatedly, as if it's going to hurt less each foolish time.
The last few months of my Mother's life were difficult. She was scared but insisted she wasn't. She was sick but tried to overcome it. She often moaned because she said it helped. I didn't understand. I wanted to understand but she had trouble putting it all into words that I could hear. I wanted desperately to help but my hovering and helping and offering sickeningly sweet servings of optimism only served to irritate.
One evening when everyone was at Mom's, when she was disappearing before our very eyes I returned from the grocery store extremely pleased with myself because I had remembered to get oatmeal. Such a silly little thing. Oatmeal. Unfortunately, the week before I had come home with steel cut oats and she was very vocal about how much she hated that kind of oatmeal...but this time I had gotten Quaker oats, the minute kind. I knew it would please her that I had remembered. Well, she wasn't pleased. It was once again the wrong oatmeal and in a moment of ridiculous disappointment that I had failed....again.... in front of everyone, I snapped, "Fine, I will throw it in the trash!" I still cringe at the wide eyed silence that met my remark.
Even as I write the words I am brought to tears. Can you believe it... I snapped at my precious Mother as she sat watching television with her grandchildren, over OATMEAL. Regrets. We all have them. We are human. We are fragile. We do the best we can but we don't always get it right.
Of course I apologized and several days later my brother went to Food Lion and got the right oatmeal but it was never opened. Mom is happily in Heaven. Two unopened boxes of oatmeal went to the food closet and three months later I am weeping and purging over oatmeal.
There is a silver lining, however, and I believe it is an answer to my prayer. In her conversation with Oprah, Maya said that sometimes on our journey we step in poop but we don't make the whole journey about having poop on our shoes.... or the wrong oatmeal.
Love is love. It doesn't always look like love, or sound like love, or feel like love but it is undeniable. Life tests our capacity to love unconditionally and we fall victim to our fears of inadequacy or lack. But when our tears dry and our heart opens again, we know without doubt that it is all about love...." that's it... that's all".
For so many years I looked back to my childhood and saw only the hurts. Today I have made a conscious choice to see the millions of other moments that didn't. The moments that gave me strength and courage and the capacity to believe that there is always hope.
Before I sat down to write something that would remind me of the way I feel in this moment, I pulled Shannon's copy of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" from her bookshelf. I'm not exactly sure what I'll find in those pages but I feel Maya has more to say to me. At least today she got my attention and I promise to give far less attention to the poop on the path !