She was a 25 year old mother of six children, waiting for the next to happen.
She married the son of her father's good friend, and they lived on a farm they didn't own.
The soil was rich, the cows gave milk faithfully, and the chickens provided eggs for breakfast.
Every day was the same; there was nothing more to life.
So, in the early hours of that morning, before he arose to tend to the chickens, and while the children dreamed in their beds, she took her carefully-packed suitcase from under their bed, and disappeared into history.
The note she left explained, "sometimes it's better to walk away." and she did.
Darla sat next to the girl in the pretty pink dress, in the front seat of a car thatdelivered them to kindergarten, where they would sing about being "a little teapot, short and stout", and they would learn A-B-C...
The radio was silent when the girl in the beautiful dress began pushing its buttons,click click click click.....
Thinking, "that looks like fun", Darla joined in, and they continued,click click, until,abruptly,the driver swatted at her hand, demanding, "Stop!"
"She'sdoing it!" Darla mumbled, feeling the warmth of embarrassment fill her face.
Without looking at her, the driver answered, "She'll stop."
Darla looked down at the ugly sweater she was wearing, striped and red, knowing if she were prettier, she would be allowed to play; and the buttons continued toclick click click.....
A 42 year-old father of a nine year old daughter is buried in the precious earth today. A man who was, by all accounts, a successful and loving father, husband, friend. A man dedicated, through active military duty, to his country. A man I knew only briefly and slightly; his wife and I were colleagues and friends some years ago. And now he is, suddenly, inexplicably ...gone from his family, his life. And on this day of clouds and barren trees and coolness in the air, I think about him again. I think of that video which shares with us his surprise for his young daughter at school back in December, when he was just home from Afghanistan. I think of that hug and the, "I missed you so much" in his voice. I remember how proudly he shared photos of her. No, I didn't know Mark well, but I know this is an excruciating and deep loss, and most poignantly for a young girl who enjoyed a closeness with her dad that most of us long for.
Depending on what we believe, we can justify something like this happening, by saying he was a good man so was called to heaven, or maybe his work in this life was done, so he returned to the universe to become ready for the next one. None of us knows, of course, and most of us attempt to justify these horrific events in our minds, make some sense of what has happened, because it makes US feel better. I can't imagine Mark's wife, Cindy and his daughter Samantha standing at his wake, or at his graveside, without my mind screaming, Why? What must their minds be screaming? How many days, years might it take for their lives to be anything close to what they thought they would be? Why do things like this happen?
There are no real answers to these questions. We work around them the best way we know, until we find our comfort in the loss. But it is at times like these, when my world, albeit far removed from Mark's family's, is shaken. The ultimate realization makes me consider my own spirituality and ways to wrap my thoughts, my feelings around this truth, trying to answer the question of why. There are so many facets of what this event will cause; how his wife will move on, what his daughter's life will now be without her dad.
Everything changes. Our peace is individual, and found within our intuitive selves, and it is totally human to mourn for such loss. This brings back to me, the absolute truth that we have only now, this moment. We can plan, hope, and of course, that is what we do within our lives, but ultimately, all we really have is now. And with that, my thoughts, my healing and peaceful energy are sent to Cindy, Samantha and the rest of Mark's family, that they find their comfort in Mark's living and accomplishments, and in the love he shared with them all. Peaceful journey, Mark.
Many of us lament a childhood which was less than we feel it should have been, less than we know we deserved as those young people trying to figure it all out. It is a fact that each of us had a different experience with our parents back then when we looked up at them in awe, for strength, for security and for that unconditional love. My own experience is certainly not what I'd like to share here today, it was less than I deserved, lacking in many ways, it is what helped form the woman I am today.
I have just spoken with my mother. For me, speaking with either parent is a chore. It's true. I admit it. And, this is true for various reasons with each of them. My mother is a kind soul who has been afflicted with an anxiety for life as long as I've known her, and considerably before I was in the picture, as she has shared. We are not alike, we don't have the same values or opinions or thoughts; there has been anger between us and a lack of consideration and that unconditional love. Over the past few years, and as a result of both a physical and emotional distance between us, my mom has shared her own experiences of lack and discomfort and "feeling like a piece of shit" as she wandered her way through childhood. She has shared a story of her dad, a silent, ungiving man who could think of nothing to say to his daughter as he walked with her to a job he found for her. Not one word. Sixty years or more after these incidents, she recalls vividly a transference of his silence into lack within her, judged by her father to be less than because he could not find, did not have any words of conversation, camaraderie for her. She has shared stories of a family who was disjointed, walking on opposite sides of the street from each other for reasons no one knew. This, the result of a crazy woman my mother's brother married at a young age who was allowed to wreak havoc on his family for years and until she died. My mother, at one point in her young life, lived with her aunt and uncle for a time while she recuperated from what I would consider to be a nervous breakdown. She was completely intimidated by the man she married, and lived too many years in distrust and lack of individuality.
It was important for my mother to bring me into these parts of her life. It was important to her that I understand she has remorse that she did not, could not rise to her children's deepest needs, while she continued to push through a life of fear and discomfort and not knowing. And as a result of both parents being human and dealing with life in the best way they knew, they raised two daughters with self-esteem issues and fears, to struggle in adulthood for that "perfect" place as they see it for themselves.
A while ago, a short while ago actually, I came to an important realization; one which allowed me to move out of that fog and to step higher within my own life. I realized that both of these people did the best they could. As cliche as that statement is, and I shudder to use it, it is truth. While they maintained a life of basic comfort for us, each of them, being human, had their own issues, fears, goals, good and bad days. As my mother spoke, I understood she is not an evil person, I know she is a lovely person, actually, who did not wish anyone's pain, but was dealing with her own. Today, she is much the same as back then, with the exception of the sharing. With the exception of the realizing. What a wonderful breakthrough! The start of healing. While my mother and I might never be close in spirit, I can and do appreciate what she has brought to me within these conversations. I empathize with her struggles. I know now, without a doubt, it is and never was, about me or my sister.
I am guilty of less than stellar choices with my own son. No one is immune. No one is perfect. Many of us have thought about the past and wonder what life would be if only we'd done......something else. And the best we can do for ourselves and for those we love is to put those thoughts away. The best we can do is work to find what we need, what we love, and pursue those things with diligence and vigor and passion. As we become those people who are happy in our individual lives, we radiate that happiness and joy outward into the universe, for all to take part. We smile more often, we have an aura of love we share easily.
So to that I say, Happy Mothers' Day to the beautiful women everywhere who have struggled, who have raised children less than perfectly, and who rise above all of that a little every day to become who they want to be. Cheers to us all. And Love.