This is the week we honor our Moms, and it’s been two years since mine went to Heaven. I spent most of my life preparing myself for the day I would lose her, because I intuited that it would be the event from which I would never recover. Now that I’m on the other side of the heartbreak, I find myself rejoicing in her memories, instead of crying. I’m thankful, and still relieved, for this, and wonder if it is strength or simply numbness. The last two years of her life were spent in hospice, in a hospital bed in her home, with my three sisters and I taking turns caring for her, along with the help of a night nurse. My evenings with Mom were on Tuesdays, and I remember reading poetry to her (Shel Silverstein was a favorite), playing old records from the 1950s for her, and watching her favorite shows with her (Ellen and Wheel of Fortune). She used to save up programs she recorded for me each week that she wanted me to see, and keep a list of books she wanted me to read. (Tuesdays with Morrie comes to mind).
My Mother was the sun and her daughters were her satellites, our lives were intertwined not only with hers, but with one another. I realize now that I am older how rare and beautiful it is, to have this female cohesiveness, this love, among siblings. It’s her legacy. Shortly after she passed, I was scheduled to teach in Italy, and recall standing at the top of a hill in a vineyard, and seeing a large, heart-shaped hole that had naturally formed in the bushes before me. The sunset shone through the space, and I was bathed in a golden light for a few moments as the day drew to a close. I decided this was a small sign that she was still with me.
That’s when the heart signs first began appearing.
Over the past year, instead of seeing less hearts, I see them everywhere. Dozens have appeared and sometimes it is a daily occurrence. I began documenting them, because their frequency was clearly one of two things – either wishful thinking on my part or something completely unexplainable.
While filming in Santa Fe, New Mexico, last fall, just outside the front door of the cottage was a bench covered with heart-shaped rocks. I’ve shared a picture of that with you here. A month ago, while teaching in Fredericksburg, Texas, a sign hung in our bed and breakfast with a very simple message: “Relax, relax, relax,” signed with a heart and the initials: EB. My Mother’s name was Elsie Becker. There is rarely a week that goes by that I don’t receive one of these love notes from my Mom, in the shape of what she represents most. She is and always will be my heartbeat and my soul, my stubborn, guiding angel and the compass that carries me through every crashing wave that lifts or drowns me in this life.
I have so many friends now who have recently lost their Moms, or are caring for their Mothers in the twilight of their journeys. Focus on the good memories, breathe them in deeply and bathe your mind in those moments, this will keep you afloat, long after she is gone. And take comfort in your sisters, they may not be your blood sisters, but you are surrounded by strong women who want to love and comfort you, and who have been through what you are experiencing. Ask for help when you need it. You are not alone in this. And finally, watch for the signs. They are there if you choose to see them.
this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
in order to bloom.
– rupi kaur
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A Painting Prize Giveaway!
As a bonus especially for you, spring is the perfect time to give away a new $100 gift certificate for art supplies! Tubes of joy, boxes from Dickblick.com on the doorstep, brushes in pristine clear wrappers, all the things that make an artists’ heart to go pitty pat! To be entered to win, leave a comment on this blog, easy as pie. And please, if you’re already signed up for my upcoming Fredericksburg workshop, don’t bring the artist pie. She has already converted all her jeans to stretchy! I’ll announce the gift certificate winner on July 12, just in time for the Birds and the Bees in the studio!
Italy 2018 – Catch the Earlybird Pricing!
Join me for a VIP painting dream getaway to Italy in October 2018. Earlybird pricing is here, so take a peek!