The Stable Bow

My girlfriend’s six-and-a-half-year-old daughter was struck and killed by a minivan two weeks ago today. She had spent the afternoon at the local library checking out books with her mom and asked if she could walk the two blocks home on her own. And, honouring her daughter’s burgeoning need for freedom, her mom agreed.

She was struck and killed in that two block walk home.

Two blocks.

The past two weeks has been heavy with grief, shock, sadness, disbelief and cold, white fear. My heart has been breaking for my girlfriend and her family. My heart has been breaking with deep and heart-wrenching sadness.

My heart has been breaking…but there is no protocol for my heart. How do I mourn the loss of a child that I did not know? How do I support a dear friend that I see once a year if I am lucky? What do I do with all this grief when I am so far on the outside of this loss but feel it as if it were my own?

The reverberation in my own family has been to tighten the rope on my three kids. Keep them close. Keep them safe. Don’t let them be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t let them leave me. Ever.

Simon and I travelled from the cottage five days after the accident to attend the funeral service. As our group of high school girlfriends came together in front of the church it felt surreal and tragic. The last time we had all been together was on the 31st of May for our annual dinner gathering. That occasion was full of happiness, laughter, fun, warmth, and love.

Needless to say, this gathering felt entirely different but the deep sense of community, friendship and love was as solid as ever and we were a formidable force for our beautiful friend.

While we waited for the service to start I browsed the program and noticed no name beside the Thanksgiving for Life. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my friend would stand up and deliver a stunning 20-minute eulogy for her daughter.

She stood before us and shared her daughter with the congregation. She shared happy memories, funny memories, and described the afternoon of the accident. She told us of her daughter’s need for freedom and independence and of the gentle loosening of the boundaries to honor that request.

She told us that her daughter died because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that she died feeling the heady freedom of a two-block-walk on her own.

My old friend reached into my breaking and bewildered heart and asked me to keep holding the faith. She asked me to honor my children’s need for freedom. She asked me to remember that my job is only ever to walk beside them on their journey and never to walk it for them. She read to me from Gibran’s The Prophet and reminded me that my job is to ‘house their bodies but not their souls.’

And so now it is time for healing. It is time to figure out how to be with a loss that is so much mine but not mine at all. It is time to move forward with the reminder of the fragility and vulnerability of human life. It is time to appreciate every moment I have with my beautiful sons.

And it is time to lean back into the fact that the moment I became a mother I also became the ‘stable bow from which my children as living arrows are sent forth’ and that I want nothing more than to bear witness to a flight that is both ‘swift and far’.

Thank you, Jilli, for your fiercely loving and courageous mother’s heart that spoke so deeply to mine. Sending all my love to you my dear friend. xo

On Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.” And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Cobwebs

I would not care to repeat yesterday. It was a rough one.

I am unaccustomed to heavy sadness weighing upon my chest like a heavy blanket. Yesterday’s mantle was so heavy that it was an effort to go about even the simplest of tasks and my heart goes out to those who feel that pall each and every day.

Tender HeartI had my first solid sleep in almost two weeks and awakened to my alarm at 5:30 this morning knowing that I had come through the worst. After a quick meditation, I got through the work that has been bogging me down and then began the arduous process of rousting three sleeping sons from their beds for the 8:15am appointment with our chiropractor.

There was something so delightfully charming about their early-morning-bleary-eyes that my heart swelled with tender mother-love as I drove the fifteen minutes to our destination.

After dropping the kids back at home after our adjustments, I was off for another self-care appointment with our energy healer, Tanis. She lives an hour away which means time alone in the car to relax, to contemplate and to connect. I had my iPad on shuffle as I drove and found myself easily leaning in to the music, the verdant green of the farmers’ fields and the knowing that there was nowhere else on the planet that I wanted to be in that moment of time.

Higher EnergiesI had a profoundly wonderful appointment and left feeling more deeply connected to my highest energetic self than I have in quite some time. Isn’t it funny how we can so easily slip out of the habit of the things that make us feel the very best?

Go figure.

Michael and Zachary were just arriving home from tennis camp when I pulled in and were full of the fun they had had. After a quick snack, Zach was off to play hockey with some buddies and Michael was tucking in to do his own thing in the Man Cave. So, after a cursory scan of e-mail, I had a long epsom salts bath and meditated in the comfort and the warmth.

For the past hour I have been cooking dinner for the family and singing at the top of my lungs (my poor neighbours!!!) to Mumford and Sons. And, really, I defy anyone to resist dancing around the kitchen when cooking with that music!

And so, between the chiropractor, the healer, the bath, the singing and the dancing, I am back. I am okay. I am healed.

It really can be that extraordinarily simple to clear out the emotional cobwebs, can’t it?Cobwebs

Monday Blues

I awakened this morning with a nasty case of the blues.

For months I have been so happily anticipating the coming together of the Cook Clan for my sister’s wedding and our week at the family cottage.

And now, after all the fun, laughter, celebration and love, we have gone our separate ways.

IMG_0765We had one last hurrah yesterday at my sister’s house; a pool party and barbecue with the entire clan. And now, my big brother and his family are back on the other side of the country in Vancouver and it will be another year before we are all together again.

The coach in me has spent the day just observing my emotional response and trying not to make too much of it.

The writer in me, and the observer of the extraordinary, however, has decided that the way I feel today is a gift.

I have an extraordinary family that I love with all my heart. We absolutely delight in being together. We laugh, we cry, we tease, and we bring out the best in each other. We love each other’s kids as if they were our own and we look forward to the next time.

Doesn’t make me miss them any less but it sure does make me extraordinarily appreciative!

The End

Moving 21 people out of a week-long stay at the cottage is a massive undertaking!

The day started at 7:00 this morning and it is now 9:30 at night. After the packing, sorting, cleaning, packing the car, driving, unpacking the car, unpacking the bags, unloading coolers, and laundry, I am completely pooped!

What an extraordinary week we had!

And, I couldn’t be happier to be sleeping in my own bed tonight! :)

Drifting

I have spent an easy, lazy and incredibly relaxing day in the company of my nieces, nephews, siblings, parents, sibs-in-law and my hubby.

The most taxing things I have done today are playing with my baby nephew, dancing with the kids at their dance party, singing along with Jim’s guitar, trying to choose a new nail colour for my toes and painting three of my nieces’ finger nails in ‘Aunt Katie’s Nail Salon’.

It’s a pretty extraordinary feeling to drift from meal to meal, conversation to conversation, and idle activity to idle activity.

And now I have a sunset to watch.

Just gotta love these holidays! :)