Today, I had the sweet pleasure of interviewing my mom for a little family archive project. (An excellent use of Zoom, by the way).
This photo of her parents and 6 of her siblings pre-dates her own birth— she was the 9th and last child from a union that has both haunted and guided her because she never got to know her father. Sadly, he passed away when my Grandmother was 4 months pregnant with mom.
Being born amidst unimaginable grief is not an ‘uncommon condition’, of course. Throughout the interview mom shared snippets of love letters her parents exchanged through the years; letters and postcards that underscored both their playfulness and passion. Recalling the words of her own father today, a man she only knew through her own mother’s narrative, was both sad and soothing.
For most of my life, I wrongly perceived this grief my mom lived with as something flawed or a weakness of character. Boy did life come to school me on this!
As I’ve come to learn and personally experience, what one does with grief is pretty much identical to what someone does with love. They are two ends of the same frequency. To live an entire life with this “burden” is a powerful testament to the love my precious mother was born into, her own immeasurable strength, and therefore, the legacy of loving energy my sister and I were born into….and on and on it goes.
As I stand here today, I realize that it is grief that shows us (to ourselves) the true measure of our love for someone or something. Conversely, it can also show us the things and people we did not love along the way– because although we remain grateful for the experience, we don’t grieve their loss at all. Therefore, the grief we carry with us is a direct measure of our own capacity to love. If we dare look at it and touch it, it will transmute and molds us into life itself– and remind us, what it is to be truly human.