We are, each one of us, lost.
Each of us disconnected, willingly and joyfully, we came here and donned the veil. We convinced ourselves that the veil must settle on everything we touch, sense, taste, see; this cloak is wrapped around us in a maddening, seemingly permanent way.
Some of us can tolerate it no longer, and we, in a moment, in a flash, do the only thing that makes sense, taking the only way to find any peace, venturing without, amid and through the folds of that veil, to a place unknown, rumored, out there, where peace is found, and salvation is known.
And the prayer may be said after an argument, after a disappointment, in silent prayer. The veil, once pierced, allows something more to then be seen, known, experienced.
In a smile. In a chance circumstance. In a pet. In work. In child rearing. In study. At church. At the office. At the bar. At the farmacy. Anywhere. The veil is out there, separating the mundane from the multidimensional,
So it went. So it goes.
We took it on, this veil. I think, though, as the veil lifts, as the curtains come tumbling down in my life now, I see myself.
I’m primly lifting my bent fingers to my head, and there is my burka. Buttoned to it is my veil. My hands, knowing a truth I do not posses, nimbly unbutton this veil from my headscarf.
Long ago, I, myself, put this veil on my head.
I walked for five decades cursing the darkness and hating those who pressed up too hard against this veil, smothering me, unaware of the horror my face was expressing, knowing only their own blindness, their own darkness.
I was given gifts this morning, and while unwrapping them, up my mother’s face came.
Not really my mom, but instead, The Mother. But my experience of this was an impenetrable wall. My greatest koan. The one whose role it was to soften the blows in my young life is sitting quietly, frowning in a detached way, looking out the window, smoking and wishing she was anywhere else.
As a child hell-bent on pleasing others, what I remember is judgment. I remember never being good enough, tame enough, happy enough, girlie enough, never enough. Authority is particulalry foul-tempered when they have come to believe that no one and nothing can give peace, after all.
Such exquisite love I had for my own mom, poorly and rarely expressed, often, then, awkwardly rebuffed. I saw her pain every single day. It was palpable to me. She would have preferred it go unseen, but it wove itself through all our endeavors, all our adventures, and all our crises as a family.
The funny thing is, when I look back and past the strum und drang, I want to say that the overall, true and clear signature of our house was humor. We four all have wicked, intense, dry, expansive and imaginative senses of humor. The four of us, I think, energetically agreed to use humor as a way to wink at each other through all the trauma and remorse. Because I will have you know, for every upset and outrage, there was laughter later. We made up for it. Raised on National Lampoon, Monty Python, all the greats, we consumed humor the way we consumed our food and drink… with insatiability. It was not optional… humor was our language.
Humor reminds you that a sacred cow is still a cow. And humor makes anything bearable. We three remaining are living proof of that.
My mom was so sad. So tenderhearted. So hurt. So neglected. So disrespected. So degraded. She knew so little peace. She wasn’t lushly loved, nor was she revered or honored by her family. I think that could be said for each of us, as I look back on my family life. We did the best we could with what was on hand, and though funny, the feeling states of that household were often bitter silence, and disappointment, and sadness.
This morning, remembering her, I remembered what it was that turned my heart on this spring. In a moment of ecstatic bliss, I saw, understood, truly and forever understood, that my dad, when he came here, took on a role I would never have agreed to.
He too has had a hard road, one which we traveled together in our car, in our metal can on wheels, the fours of us. Disjointed, doing harm to each other, and never, not once, not even once, really and truly and singularly seeing each other.
Today, I realized something about Mom that I’d understood months ago about Dad.
Mom volunteered to come here, and she took on tremendous challenges, such heartbreak I cannot, will not speak it, it is too sad, too shocking. She took it all on. And she folded into herself. She lived her 61 years.
I’d come to look upon her life and her death and her then forever absence as an undone sentence, a participle dangling from my tongue, tripping it into spitting words of rejection, suspicion, futility.
I didn’t understand until this morning that she was, is, always will be now, a Bodhisattva of a magnitude I may never reach. She chose to walk in the desert 61 years. She died in a hospice bed, a shell, the picture of physical agony, of determination, of solitude. The one person who she looked to for strength was busy that day, as he was most days. She transitioned as Mary and I took a smoke break outside just under her window. We did it knowing the end was near, but needing a moment out. As soon as we started, the hospice workers knocked on the window, motioning to us to come upstairs quickly.
Mary and I got there and Mom then took her last breath. Her face was contorted, her extremity witnessed and shared. And then it was over.
It was over.
As we packed up her room, after that last act of the play, I saw all of her clothing and little travel-sized grooming items as simply props that were no longer applicable. They had meaning while she was alive. This was her lotion, this was the nightgown I went to Kmart that day to buy. This was her ring. And then, the moment after, these were meaningless items, out of tune with the new music pumping through our hearts.
And this morning, I understand that my parents took on much more darkness than me, for many more years than me, and they are bigger angels than I. That’s because their pain went on longer. Who, in the end is the lightworker?
It is so sanctified, so unspeakably holy, what they did for me.
And here I am, on the 15th of November, her birthday, remembering her, knowing her to be holy, understanding the energetic favor she did for me, knowing now that only a great soul would live such a sacrificial life, and I know a stillness, a balance, that has heretofore eluded me.
Her constructs and her expectations, her disappointments and hobbies and pursuits and humor, her allowing and giving nature, her constant ever present permission for us to orbit around her, all of us lost to ourselves, and each of us blind, bumping into each other, bruising and cutting and breaking each other, there was a purpose for each of those days, each moment sanctified, every action, every reaction, scripted in a soulic way bringing us to this day, a day I find myself gleefully readying my presents to take to her on this, her 73rd birthday.
I am a mother now. I have cast off the devices and constructs I grew up with, that old rickety framework of disappointment and rejection, of things never quite being right, always darkness lurking in the hallways, setting traps, surprising us in our joyous and calm moments, reminding us that we are not here to be happy or fulfilled.
Those days are over.
I have been blessed beyond measure, and my blessings took the form most would not recognize as holy.
This morning, realizing how much my mom really did love me, so much so that she found no peace at all, to give me this wound of incompletion, and these joyous days of healing, I see that this new age is here. I am changed forever by these moments of bliss. What looks like an plain, older woman sitting through a grey dawn, on her bed, looking out her window at her tree, and crying… this old woman is brand new.
I can hold no anger toward the lost.
The lost among us, the ones who reluctantly hold their palms to their heads to make sure no one unfastens their veil, I love them the most now.
They are sacrificing themselves daily. Their unhappiness and rude anger is a clarion call to know the greatness of their own soul, an invitation for all who encounter them to wake to more love, mercy, forgiveness.
I could not have known this light without having had my eyes held so tight. I could not have known this delicately indestructible joy had I not believed that my desperate sadness would, one day, kill me dead.
Never despair! Never curse your blindness! We take on this pain to know its mate. We come to do this magic contained, isolated, questioning our sanity and worth.
I can’t prove any of this. But I know it all to be true. And I know, deep in my sane and true heart, that none of us, not one of us, not one, is truly lost.