Mother's Day 2012
The year I turned 50, Mother's Day was one of the hardest "holidays" I've ever faced. I had lost my mom two weeks before and the holiday was especially poignant and filled with mixed emotions. That was six years ago and also the beginning of a defining time in my life.
Grief and loss can be mysterious and powerful forces in our lives. As a mom myself, of course, "life goes on". I look back now and realize, my heart was broken after mom died, but I shouldered on with my career and my role as mom and wife. You have to - there's really no other choice. But there's something about not having parents any longer that changes one's sense of self (my dad is gone too). No matter how busy or loved you are, you feel a unique kind of loneliness. My parents' brand of unconditional love and their way of "knowing" me like no one else can....that was gone now. I realized losing mom that I was so lucky and so lost all at the same time. So lucky to feel such love that was an unspoken, undying and constant presence in my life. So lost without the physical reminder of it in my life anymore. In a lot of ways, my husband and son not withstanding, I realized that my mom was the love of my life. Something my oldest brother said about being with my mom at the end says it all. He said "I realized that hers were the first eyes I'd ever seen and mine were the last she'd ever see."
It was when my mom was dying and in hospice care that I discovered Hall & Oates again. Of course, I knew the music from the 80s, but I found Live from Daryl's House during the sitting around, waiting and hoping one does when a loved one is not well. And a particular song and performance really resonated with me at the time. It was the Pat Monahan and Train episode and Daryl and Pat's rendition of "Wait for Me". I was commuting every week between my home in Seattle and my mom's home in San Francisco. "Wait for me....I know the light is fading is fast"...I carried those lyrics and the emotion of this ballad with me on those trips back and forth.
Like I'm sure has been the case for many others, music gave me solace as I settled in to life without parents. Songwriters embed their own life experience in their compositions, and the soul and emotion of those songs found me. In a way, music was the only form of comfort I could accept during this time because it's not easy to share or show such pain to those you know love you. I found the music of Hall & Oates and others in a new way - the deeper I went into the music, the more I found songs and the stories behind them that reflected something much richer than a bunch of 80's pop songs. Songs like Changes of Season, Time Won't Pass Me By, Do It For Love and many others offered me fodder for reflection - an antidote to my broken heart. During that time, I also found the meaning and story behind Pat Monahan's "Drops of Jupiter". I read the song came to him in a dream, after he lost his mother to lung cancer, the same illness that took my mom too.
"Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Eventually, nearly five years later, the music led me to the memoir - John Oates' memoir, Change of Seasons. I had no idea that this book would have such an impact on my life! Its tales of the seasons in Oates' musical journey inspired and moved me. So much so that through a series of unbelievable circumstances, I was lucky enough to meet Oates and his co-author Chris Epting and they allowed me to start a book club, study the book and share the discoveries with others. Along the way, I found out that the experience of losing loved ones is a common theme among book club members and even the authors. Certainly part of it is a natural consequence of being of "a certain age". But for me, the common theme is more than just loss. It's the discovery of looking at the meaning of our lives and a desire to live an inspired life - a life that leaves a positive trail of footprints for others to follow. We're all striving to do that - and the music and the memoir helped me turn mourning into a renewed quest to make sure the time left matters.
So now 2018 - it's been six years since my mom passed away. Imagine the affirmation and magic I felt standing in a huge arena watching the Hall & Oates and Train concert a couple of weeks ago in San Jose. I know it's a coincidence, but in the moment, I felt as if Mom orchestrated the whole thing. First, that night I got to hear Pat Monahan perform "Drops of Jupiter".
Then, I got to hear Pat and Daryl sing "Wait for Me".
Mother's Day 2018
It doesn't really matter if I imagined the magic in the experience. Because feeling it makes this Mother's Day a day to celebrate once again. The loss and undeniable separation will never go away. But now, there is this wonderful magic mixed in. Maybe mom had something to do with it all...maybe not. Maybe it's the luck of meeting some like-minded souls along this adventure who make me feel a little less alone with loss. But whomever and whatever forces brought the music, the musician, the writer and the memoir into my life, I am forever grateful. It's a gift beyond measure and I promise to use it to "Keep On Pushin Love" in whatever ways possible. And I hope these words are spreading a little of that spirit today, to all the moms, daughters (and sons) that happen upon my story...:)