Reflections On Death, Dying & Living With Purpose
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV
Today around 12 Noon is the 3-year anniversary of my mother’s death and my journey as a motherless child. As women, we can bury a child, a spouse, a father, and siblings but when we bury our mother’s the umbilical cord connecting us to another human being is severed. As I reflect on the death of my mother, I am faced with the reality that I’m walking towards my own death. I have more time behind me than I have in front of me. Each day and every breath is precious. So, what lessons am I learning as I visit the Motherless Child Earth Walk?
Lesson #1: You’ve Got To Take The Bitter With The Sweet: I could say that the past three years have been the worst of my life on one hand, but also the most rewarding. Do I mourn what I’ve lost? Or do I celebrate all that I’ve received? It’s the age-old question of seeing the glass half full or half empty. I’m struggling with mourning the loss of Doris, Minnie, Mat, and Grand-Mère, but I realize that the seeds of creativity that they planted in me are yielding abundant amounts of fruit.
In the three years since my mother’s crossing over, I’ve attended Penland School of Crafts three times for improvisational quilting with Luke Haynes, impressionistic hand embroidery with Katherine Diuguid, and a natural dye studio with Charllotte and Sophena Kwon from Maiwa. Standing on my dying mother’s prayers for me to share creating color with plants and stitching I’ve taught workshops at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, Otahpiaaki Fashion Week in Calgary, the Kainai Blackfoot Nation and the Nottoway Tribe of Virginia. I’ve received an art residency at Material Institute Fashion School in New Orleans.
Lesson #2: People Are Going to Criticize & Find Fault, So Don’t Take It Personal: Some looking at my situation especially my house would say that I’m failure instead of success. The house needs painting, the roof leaks and the inside looks like I’m a hoarder because I’m trying to sort through treasures and trash belonging to Doris and Minnie. They nick pick and criticize what I do, how I do it and what I don’t do. They judge me without knowing or considering all the facts. In the last three years, criticism has reached the point of becoming vicious and vindictive.
I’m learning how to walk away, even if it hurts, as it did with being an auction volunteer at Penland or participating with my high school graduating class. If I can’t be part of the solution, then I refuse to be part of the problem. Life is short and fragile for all of us, and I make a conscious effort every day not to participate in another person’s drama. I don’t want to talk about people behind their backs, find fault and criticize others. I believe with all my heart that if I put energy into finding fault in someone else, then I’m missing those that I can see in the mirror. Negative energy makes more negative energy because it feeds on itself. It destroys creativity!
Lesson #3: Art Heals! Creativity Helps Us Turn Life Into A Smile: We all have setbacks, we all have failures and disappointments, it’s part of life. How we choose to deal with our brokenness is on us. A song shared by women in my family says, “You Don’t Know What Love Is Until You Know The Meaning Of The Blues.” It’s a hard fact of life that every human being will experience. However, when we stop creating something from nothing with our hands, our hearts become hardened and our tongues become sharp. Every day we have a choice on what we want to create. Do I want to create hope, joy, unity, love, and peace? Or do I want to create mayhem, confusion, conflict, violence, and resentment? The choice is ours and what we create in our mind manifests in our hands and in our lives.
So, on this 3rd anniversary of my mother’s final journey, I celebrate her life by honoring the life lessons her crossing over is teaching me. I acknowledge my tears, my broken heart, my feelings of being alone, my loss of connection to people in my mother’s family who choose not to associate with me. I can’t change another person, but I can dig deep and change myself.