I’ve been thinking a lot about healing this week, as I watch my body go from neutral to first, then to second gear in a few short days. Today is Day 10 of my new life with two new hips and the promise of a level of mobility I haven’t seen in years.

All around, there are signs of healing. Longer days and stronger sun have prompted green stuff to cover the scrapes and scratches of ice. We’ve actually gone from bare, cold earth to lawn-mower days in less than a week.

At the same time, the US, in a way, is healing from a decade of grief complicated by the creeping paralysis of a polarized political environment. So much has happened since 911, yet we can call up the searing pain of that day in an instant, with the right trigger. And, this was the right trigger.

In life and in death, Osama bin Laden has hurt us. On Monday, one at a time, we played back those old tapes, reliving our losses. If we thought we had run out of tears years ago, we were wrong. 

I had just gotten out of the hospital when I heard the president’s announcement, and instantly wrapped myself in a shawl to help me process the news.  

Was I glad? Yes, but not joyful. Was I sad? Yes, but not for OBL. Was I angry? You bet. Not only was I angry for thousands of senseless deaths, but also for the generation that,  thanks to him, has had to live with the threat of annihilation. Most of all, I wanted assurance that I need not worry anymore about my family in DC or NY or SF. Tell me it’s really, really over.

And, that’s when I thought of my mother.

She’s been dead a few years, but was lost many years earlier to the fog of Alzheimer’s, and before that to her own demons. On the day I gave birth to my son, I learned exactly what my mom wanted to be to me, even when she couldn’t. It’s okay, I wanted to say. I understand. Now – lucky me - I get to revitalize the primal connection of motherhood vicariously, as a grandmother. 

Today, I talked to a cousin who lived with my family when she was young. As soon as she left college, she moved to Spain and never came back. Every now and then we get on the phone and talk about our lives, especially about our mothers.

They were sisters, and as far as mothering goes, they weren’t the best and they weren’t the worst, but they were ours. We loved them and we hated them. We swore we'd never be like them when we grew up, yet can’t look at each other or talk on the phone without seeing, hearing and feeling the presence of those two women, in each other. 

And, so it goes.

Here’s a very touching tale that ties together cultures, tragedies and two women from opposite ends of the earth. I'm not sure I could be so generous, but, in spite of vast differences, these women meet at the mother nexus, that place that connects them to the past, future and oddly, to each other.

Here’s to all nurturers, teachers, mothers, everywhere. 



05/07/2011 16:42

This is THE Mother's Day post. You know that look on Hillary Clinton's face as she watches the live video feed from Abbottabad, Pakistan? That look on her face, her hand to her mouth? That was the look of a mother. I wore that look as I watched this video--the universal mother's look. And I saw it in the faces of the women in the audience at this TED talk.

Two new hips and a new lease on movement! May you feel well. May you go as far as you would wish to go.

05/07/2011 18:11

Thanks,Nance. The more I think about it, the more I realize I'm SURE I wouldn't be as generous as the WTC mom, but she certainly gives us something to live up to. As for Hillary, yes, it's that gasp that gives her away. I'm getting to really love HC, much more than I did during the campaign. We should all be very proud she's representing us in the world--as a diplomat, a woman, a wife (?) and definitely a mother.

05/07/2011 18:23

What a post. Nance is absolutely right - it is THE MOTHER of all Mother's Day posts. I'm trilled to hear you are healing, I was touched by your words re 9/11 and your relationship with your mom, but the last video brought me to my knees. Oh my.

05/07/2011 18:38

Leslie---the video brought me to my knees, too. There's much more healing to be done, but that's what spring is for, isn't it?

05/07/2011 18:39

I'm so glad that you are on the mend. There are 4 of us from another blog who have had hip replacements and we have promised to get together and do a dance someday. I don't think it will be the Can-Can. Would you like to join us?

Keep getting stronger. Happy Mother's Day.

05/07/2011 18:43

Darlene--I'd love to dance with you and your friends! I'll get out your way someday and we'll tango through the town.

05/08/2011 06:12

What a lovely post to mark your return to us.

May the healing, all of it, proceed in due course for all of us.

05/08/2011 07:11

Thanks, Diane. It's good to be back among the living, and the (almost) walking!

05/09/2011 11:16

This was read in my Unitarian Universalist church yesterday:

Mother's Day and bin Laden (poetry)
Written by Chip

We call upon the ghost of Julia Ward Howe,
dead now one hundred years,
yet still alive in our imaginations and our hearts--
we call you forth in our consciousness
to echo your cry
for a Mothers’ Peace Day
to end the unnecessary bloodshed
which we humans all-too-often employ.

We call you, dear Ms. Howe,
to help us make sense of the death of Osama bin Laden.
You, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic,
know that self-defense and war are sometimes necessary.
Yet you, as a mother,
who lost her own mother as a child
and who lost a child herself,
know the tragic sting of death.

Mindful of the chaos and destruction
and the many, many deaths
on September 11, 2001,
and through the war-torn years since,
we honor the losses and the sacrifices
and we rejoice at this possible turning point
in the war on terrorism.

We rejoice at the possibility of peace,
but let us not rejoice at the loss of life.
Mother Julia, remind us
that every life has inherent worth,
that each person had a mother somewhere.
Help us to use this moment for self-reflection,
that we might grow and evolve.
Urge us to take this opportunity
to rededicate ourselves
to justice and compassion for all:
help us to end terrorism
by ending the injustices which fuel it.

Let us honor this Mother’s Day
as if it were your own Mothers’ Peace Day.
Let us honor mothers of all kinds,
and those who serve as mothers,
and those who would be mothers,
by creating a more just and peaceful world
for all children.

05/09/2011 11:20

Here's a link about Julia Ward Howe's First Mothers Day Proclamation, written as a response to the death and destruction of the Civil War. Tellin' it like it is!


05/09/2011 12:43

Oh, Karen! these are terrific! Thanks so much. You are so lucky to be part of such rich spiritual community.


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