Becoming a mother has really opened my heart. Besides being with family, I notice the compassion most when I am teaching yoga. One of my favorite places to teach yoga is in addiction treatment. I get to watch how people who look to check out start tuning into themselves. I see the wounded child come through desiring care and love. One client left me with quite an impression. She was lost too soon. Her daughter stays in the forefront of my prayers. This is for you sweet girl.
Dear Little One,
We never met but I feel like I know you. Your mommy talked a lot about your silly personality, your big heart, and your warm cuddles. She shared many pictures of your pretty curly hair, beautiful olive skin, and sweet toothless smile. Her face lit up every time she mentioned your name.
I won't pretend to comprehend the enormity of your heartbreak. Maybe your soul was shattered even before mommy left her body. Maybe you already suffered from the complexity of her disease. The way this illness consumed her must be so hard to understand. We'll never know what happened during her last hours. People will want to tell you all sorts of stories. I wanted to share how she inspired me and what she taught me. I hope that one day it will help make your heart a little lighter.
Your mom wanted to get better. She wanted to heal. She knew you deserved the best possible version of herself that she could give you. It was through her desire to get healthy and well that our paths crossed.
First day in treatment, your mom was just not going to have it...
"Why I gotta do yoga?",
"I ain't doing this sh_t."
"My back hurts",
"I had surgery on my ankle"
"My nose is congested"
" I can't do that! Or that!!"
Your mommy roared her excuses at me. It was difficult not to take it all personally. She was withdrawn, aggressive, and bleak. This was going to be a tough nut to crack.
Day after day, Your mom would disrupt the group, walk out of the room, and shoot me a good ol' roll of the eyes. I felt defeated. I didn't know what to do. How would I ever get your mom to try yoga? A week or so in, it was just me and her in our group. One on one, nobody else. This was going to be quite a challenge.
I decided to skip the yoga poses, waive the breath, and pass on the meditation. This was the ultimate surrender for me. Yoga is all about connection; Oneness. That would be our true practice for the next hour and I had to let it begin with me. I let her know I was from the Bronx. She was intrigued. We were both from a tough, hell-hole of a neighborhood. We appreciated each other's war stories. We both learned to be defensive, use anger to protect ourselves, and do whatever it took to avoid getting hurt. There were more similarities than there were differences. We became kindred spirits. I inspired her with the experience, strength, and hope that helped me find another way to be. Your mom helped me connect deeper to those parts of myself that I was still secretly ashamed of. I was able to practice compassion and love. It was a powerful exercise in courage and vulnerability for both of us.
During our next yoga session, she asked if I could play different music. I went with "Gangsta Rap". She stood on one foot, tried some breathing exercises, and stretched out her back. She even meditated for a couple of minutes. She laughed and smiled by the end. She also said I was "cool people" and she was going to try her best every time we had yoga.
Week after week, I had the privilege of watching your mom drop all the armor and blossom into a light-hearted, bright light. She was making friends. Her growth was noticeable to everyone including herself. Life became happy, joyous, and free. She was a miracle.
She was so thrilled about her healing. She couldn't wait to get home to you. She hoped to bring you out here to live amongst her supportive community and make a safe home for both of you. Her choice would always be to have you well taken care of and happy.
I didn't get to say good-bye to your mom before she flew home. I didn't get to tell her how proud I was of her. I wanted to remind her that she was incredible. In three months she showed so much courage, strength, and truth. She was a shining example of what can happen when you let something bigger into your life.
Having your mom come home must have felt so wonderful. Hugging her and feeling loved is priceless. She must have been so elated to see you and hold you and kiss you. It's a moment you will always cherish.
What happened after that, neither one of us will ever know. Mommy suffered from a very powerful illness. It would be challenging for her to stay on the path without the support she counted on. She was powerless over the obsession. No one could have stopped her until she stopped herself. The pain was too great. Your mom took her last breath in this life whether or not that what she wanted. It was time.
I don't know what to say..."I'm sorry for your loss"? That seems so trite in this situation. What I really want to say to you is that you are not alone and you have people in your life that love you. Don't be afraid to talk about your feelings, you're going to have a lot. You will survive and you can choose to thrive. Take life one day at a time and practice looking for what is going right. The love you shared with mommy will always live in your heart. Let it shine through.