Monday, December 13, 2010

growing up

Life sometimes involves experiencing vulnerability, and sometimes it resides in your parents - those who you thought were superheroes, stronger than anything.

I am 31 years old and a mother to a six year-old.  My mother has been a mother for, well...31 years.  She's more experienced than I am.  She knows more than I do.  She has it all together.  Or, so I thought.

This SuperMom hero of mine is vulnerable, and come to find out she probably has been all along, even though I've thought otherwise for as far back as I can remember.

Recently I've discovered that my mom's kryptonite is losing both of her parents.  With each of their death's we knew their end was coming. With the first, we had no idea it would be so soon, and the loss was a heavy weight of sadness.  With the second, her passing was long and hard, grueling even.  We knew it was close, and yet still it was heavy with so much to learn in the process.  So. Much.

Virtually no words can describe the feeling of watching my own SuperMom experience the passing of her parents so recently.  My mom has handled it all with such grace and dignity - two words she uses for the hope she has in how she will handle the remaining details of her parents estate, without realizing she already has these two descriptors in her character.

Grace. Dignity.

Losing a grandparent is painful and hard.  Losing a grandparent whose presence was so meaningful to my life and who truly added love and wisdom and joy, well, that's still painful and hard...but it's sweet, too.  It's time that I apply all that I've learned from this woman and allow her words and expressions and time spent together to settle upon me, and take up deep residence, as her roots plant firmly in my brain and in my heart.  Such joy and such sweetness.  What gifts we're given.

It is also a gift to watch my own mother lose her own, especially at the age I am, when I am able to make more sense of it all than if I was even a decade younger.  There's so much I can learn from as I watch my own mother's emotions play out before my eyes.  And mostly, I can learn about being human and real, and I can learn that it doesn't do anyone any good to put another person up on a pedastal.

We all hurt.  We all have pain.  We all get confused and struggle to make sense of anything.  We all need love and time and patience to heal.

Someday I'll look back on all this and remember pieces of how it felt watching my mother hurt, knowing that her own mother is no longer here to wipe her tears away and that I cannot make everything all better for her.  My mother must go through each step of the process and she will hurt - it's part of growing.  It's a necessary part of the process of living.  I'll learn more than I already have as my mother navigates through the mystery of grieving and remembering.

I think about life being birthed, and how I had to learn to be patient with myself as I navigated through my own feelings of confusion, fear, and anxiety, even among pure joy and happiness.  I hadn't had any experience with how I would feel as a new mother, much less any experience with what needs my own child would have and what kind of a person he would be.

And so, as I think of that new life just beginning, I compare it with lives ended and I find similarities.  No one has taught my mom how to feel as she navigates through her emotions from the deaths of her parents.  She can read the stages of grief and identify with others and their own experiences, but no one has had the conversations my mom has had with her mother in the time before her passing.

This is our time for growing up, even more than we already have. It's my time to learn that even though my mother is older and now a grandmother, she isn't all grown up yet and she continues to grow through life's experiences.

I see as I grow up a little bit more, that All Is Grace.  All.  Even this.

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