Today is the 14th anniversary of the death of my mother from breast cancer. Naturally my thoughts start to turn to her at this time of year, but additionally the specific topic of cancer had popped up on my radar these last few days, which made me think that I needed to explore further this seemingly divine message.
What I found was an invitation to examine and experience my grief a little bit differently this year. Besides the grief that inevitably comes from the death of someone you love, losing a parent at a young age can be especially difficult for a child (I include young adults in this) who may still be gaining a sense of identity. Yet now at 36 years old, I am at a place where I want to honor her by acknowledging the ways in which I have grown and matured since her death.
So this year instead of focusing on the losses, I looked for the gifts.
And these are the gifts I uncovered:
- A broader understanding of femininity and what it means to be female. Because I have had a series of “surrogate” mothers since my mother’s death, my perception of being a woman and a wife has expanded beyond what I directly experienced as a child. Through these different viewpoints, I have gained a greater sense of who I am and who I can be from within these roles and the others I play.
- Just an entrepreneur at (he)art. Like my mother, I also possess creative and entrepreneurial tendencies. Myself as a music therapist and psychotherapist, my mother as a visual artist and baker.
- Life is short. Live it fully. Related to the above point, then, is that through her death I can more fully recognize that life is too short to be anything less than who I am. Subsequently, it is not only possible, but necessary that I consciously create a life path for myself that allows for an optimal work/life balance in which I can be of service to others in my community, while also remaining true to myself.
So while it may have taken me some time to unwrap these gifts, I am deeply appreciative of them. Thank you, mom. Love you.