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These bonds with our children as we are their mothers in this lifetime – like Joni Mitchell sings,’permanent tattoos’ that transmit all kinds of emotional knowing and intuitions about their states-of-being into our bodies. Indelible. Love’s burning mark. – Kathryn Brady

When I was 26, I had an explosion of love like none I’d experienced in my life thus far – the birth of my first baby. It was in that moment, feeling that degree of love, that I realized just how much more vulnerable I was in life. I never really had very much to lose, that is, before now.

It’s a girl. I had always been a tomboy, didn’t really know much about girlie things. The men in my family and the men in my mother’s family had been the nurturers. My mother was the matriarch and wielded much power, impetuously. I think she missed the nurturance gene.

I never wore pink. Intuitively, I knew that Casey was a pink baby. She was completely uninterested in the trucks, farm animals, and backhoes I bought her. Casey loved to wear pink and always had a baby doll in her arms. Early on she made it clear that she was an Artist, drawing hearts and balloons on everything she created. As a conscientious mother, it was always a mad dash to provide blank pages on her two-sided easel so her creativity could flow endlessly. Entering her room, I never knew what creations I was going to encounter. A happy being, Casey woke up  every morning singing in her crib until I heard, “Ma!” and my day began.

She was around two years old when I became a single mom and it was Casey and me for the next few years. I rode her to pre-school on my bicycle down St. Charles Avenue and sometimes we rode the streetcar. When I took a few classes in premed, she watched me study, enjoyed my wonder, and was curious about the dead frog in the refrigerator that was my homework.

Casey was strong-willed and she came by it honestly, if you know me. She is a third-generation fiercely strong woman and, also, just the medicine my mother needed to open her heart. There was a special bond between them that I was not a part of, but for which I am deeply grateful.

At four, my creative daughter built a clay Madonna that her art teacher found exceptional. Unfortunately, it exploded in the kiln. Nevertheless, my daughter was to be an artist no matter what else she did with her life.

Any program, class, or experience I could find to enrich her life, we participated in. I loved to watch her blossom and blossom she did. Aside from being creative, Casey was very grounded and sure of herself. In preschool she asked for the telephone list of her Montessori school and began calling each student and telling them to bring a particular fruit to school the next day. Casey was planning a fruit salad! During these moments, I watched her in awe and happily became her assistant.

Another quality noticeable at a young age was Casey’s selfless generosity, an attribute she shared with my mother. When Casey was three, she grabbed a plastic bag and started putting her stuffed animals into it. When I asked her what she was doing her reply was, “I’m giving these to the ‘crooked childs.’ ”  This quality has been consistent throughout her life.

We used to draw letters on each other’s back at bedtime and excitedly guess what each other drew. It was a sweet, simple time. There was strong connection and love between us that has surrounded us throughout our lives.

Conflict arose in her fourth year when my second husband joined our family. Casey is fiercely loyal and I suspect this quality was triggered, perhaps including Sid felt like a breach of trust on some level. Also, Casey had to share me for the first time which made for a bumpy transition.

We eventually found a new equilibrium, that is, until a few years later when I dropped into a sense of unworthiness and self-loathing almost too painful to contain. I later recognized this as a replay of the postpartum depression I’d experienced for a few hours after her birth.

Dense feelings have a cumulative effect throughout our lives and once they become unbearable, the earlier triggers may have been long forgotten. They often become lumped into general malaise and even medicated. Our culture doesn’t value vulnerability and the trauma that contributes to it. Postpartum depression is usually minimized to just hormonal when it is more like a lantern illuminating, or bookmarking, an issue to be explored at a later date. Embracing a greater vision of the cumulative, multigenerational nature of trauma is essential if we are to heal the depression and fear so prevalent in our culture. As we are learning with epigenetics, trauma can skip one or two generations and really wreak havoc making it more difficult to connect the dots. The mother/daughter dyad can provide a mirroring aspect that is often unconscious and evocative. Understanding our ancestry can be a helpful part of the tremendous healing process that is possible with same gender dyads. Some useful tools are Holotropic Breathwork and Family Constellation Therapy.

Being a psychotherapist and open to different healing modalities, I was able to bring much of my angst to consciousness which became grist for the mill for myself and my children. Fortunately, I raised children who are self-aware and communicative. My parents, having been first generation American born with parents who immigrated from the traumas of Eastern Europe and grew up in the Great Depression, made physical survival a possibility for our lineage. I try to make it a practice with my children to give gratitude to their grandparents. Our ancestors’ lives were not easy.

Considering this, my mother was likely struggling with similar feelings I had, but she struggled silently and with fewer internal resources.

Aside from family issues, Casey and I share something unseen. There is an energy between us that is beyond our limited, concrete understanding. For example, when Casey was very young she, her father, and I swam with the manatees in Florida. We had not spoken of manatees for decades. When she was in France, twenty years later, she was walking into their rental telling Kumar about the manatees when she checked her mail and I sent her a Valentine’s Day card with the name of a manatee I had adopted in her name!

After the disability became physically apparent, Casey agreed to go to Brazil with me for a couple of weeks to see John of God. I wrote more specifically about this profound journey in my book and in a previous blog essay, click here. After two weeks in Abadiania, Brazil sharing one of the most profound experiences of my life, I saw more of how Casey and I were similar, than different. I experienced the deep soul connection between us and how it had profoundly affected the community of others seeking healing and their loved ones. The collective grief was palpable as we left on the bus.

It’s as if something was activated during that trip that I had not been aware of previously. When I was preparing my book for publication, Casey told me she wanted to go to the river in Louisiana where they grew up and do an art project with photography and that’s where she would speak to me after I left my body. I titled my book Meet Me By the River – A Woman’s Healing Journey after asking her permission. For the book, click here.

I could have written a full-length novel about my relationship with my daughter. When she feels joy, I feel joy; when she feels pain, I feel pain, like permanent tattoos. I can also feel my mother’s compassion and joy at watching Casey grow and learn, after all, that’s what we are here for. It is not an easy curriculum here in human bodies. It is the PhD level of evolution and my mother, now in Spirit, knows that. As I can now feel my mother’s unbridled love, I hope my children will feel mine and when we are together again, we will all have a celebration.
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“… If the earthly and no longer knows your name, whisper to the silent Earth: I’m flowing.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Forgiveness-WebAfter I completed my book, I questioned whether it was time to leave my body, whether my Work was done; I thought about dying. I didn’t particularly want to think about it, it was just there as a viable option. After all, my level of functioning is pretty primitive on a physical level. I have been reading Kathleen Singh’s book titled, The Grace In Dying where she discusses something I had been contemplating, that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of dying, so familiar to the general public, were actually states of ego. And after moving through these ego states, there is a state of transcendence that is beyond the ego. Kathleen goes into much more detail about the later stages, beyond the original five stages. She elaborates that the acceptance stage can include much panic and despair, and it is beyond these five stages where surrender happens. I really couldn’t read much more, because I was experiencing too much panic and despair!

I’m really not sure what my next piece on the path is. This place of not knowing is probably the hardest place to be on the spiritual path, whether one is able-bodied or not. I really don’t know… Yesterday there was much despair present, but today that has lifted to a large degree. I slept eight hours and dreamed a lot. What has come out of it is that I will meditate more. MSNBC has been my drug of choice. Some part of me keeps “hoping” that greed will recede and empathy will prevail. ISIL will “see the light.” And maybe as this story unfolds, I will walk again and then snow ski.

Actually, keeping current with the news and interviews of artists and new films and books, helps keep me relevant while in my physical body, though much of the news can be depressing. In all honesty, I did not turn MSNBC off, it stopped working mysteriously. Sometimes I can’t help from unseen forces. My choices to accept this, graciously. As I turn toward it internally, the panic and despair recede. There is more me available.

After all, this is really no different from any other major transition in my life. Well, maybe it is somewhat different.

Questions about my mortality and my ultimate transition become clearer through self-reflection. I mean, who gets to be with these questions calmly and consciously? Would following the trajectory of choosing palliative care through hospice, thereby employing a medication to increase my respiration be copping out? It reminds me of the personal decisions surrounding childbirth, an apt comparison. Natural childbirth or an epidural? Should this birth be induced? How much medical intervention feels right to me? Is there an undercurrent of political agenda influencing the trajectory? I believe how one navigates these transitions is a personal choice for each individual and their family.

Do I have the courage to do this “birth” differently? Instead of choosing a cesarean out of fear like I did in the past, could I just weather the panic and despair as it arose and move into the transpersonal realms? After all, I am very familiar with the transpersonal; I spent fifteen years traveling those realms in breath work.

Maybe, just maybe, I have the patience and courage to do this Sacred transition using my own internal resources that I have been developing over the thirty years since I birthed my babies. Making this transition consciously would require trusting myself and the Universal Love more than I ever have. As of late, I have begun a practice of creating presence internally, by consistently meditating twice a day with the intention of clearing mental and emotional interference. After all, the practice of meditation by many teachers has been described as practicing the dying process, something we will all do.

I suspect that by continuing my daily practices, I will be supported, living the most satisfying life I could’ve imagined with this curriculum while still in my body. Living consciously, with integrity, can only be the best prerequisite to dying with grace.

VISIT THE BLOG FOR MY NEW BOOK – MEET ME BY THE RIVER!

Go to - http://www.meetmebytheriver.net -- And you can find it on Amazon!
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. more...

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