Written by Anonymous
The burl was alive in this hand-turned bowl that held little pieces of white paper with hand-written questions on them — prompts for discussion among a group of women at a yoga retreat I recently attended. I was more intrigued by the container that held the paper than the question that was waiting for me when I unfolded my pick. I half-stared at the pattern in the bowl, wondering how many years this tree lived and where and how it might have fallen. Did it die of old age or was it taken down for aesthetic purposes? This was the question running through my mind as the blur of the words gradually became crisper and found my full view. These words had been waiting for me all day; they wanted to ask me a question and they were patiently waiting for an answer. I pulled my gaze away from the bowl as it was now captured by the question in front of me. “Do you have unfinished business with a significant person in your life? How are you dealing with it?” Whoa! Two questions? I was only expecting one. Ok – I can answer this, I thought. And before I could consider my response, I already felt the wetness from my tears on my lap. This is what I wrote in my journal that day:
There are hugs left to feel without the fentanyl under the opiate that calls to my daughter. There is a little girl who goes through the normal growing pains as she transitions into the teenage brain and emerges finally a woman. Or a young lady who strolls the quaint little shops in the center of town, carefully choosing the dress she may wear on the night she milestones into engagement, job, promotions — little personal victories shared between a mother and daughter…only a mother and daughter. To have a bond and connection with a front brain not tampered-with for years and years. And merriments left uncelebrated and untouched by joy.
This is what I yearn for and what I hopelessly hope for. This is what still flickers in my deep-down inside heart. And even when that flame seems like a blurred, pre-historic memory, smothered in the time of petticoats and horse and carriage, I dream I embrace a daughter who is bright-eyed. She smiles purely and lives bravely without the pipe, bent spoon, lighter, pills, rolled-up dollar bill. Without the heroin. Wwithout the fear.
I have every day my breath that I can breathe. I have the awareness that if I breathe in, my mind can find a retreat and a lovely home on the inhale and the exhale. It is simple, but true. When I breathe, I have a choice to focus on that breath. I can walk instead of run. I can slow down and look at this life filled with beauty of sunrises and sunsets. I can feel the breeze on my face and focus on that sensation. I can choose this joy!
I can smile at the many gifts this universe delivers. While she sleeps, I am free to feel what it is it like to have true friends. They accept me as I am, for they too understand my sorrow. They lift me when I am unlift-able and I am blessed, for were it not for my child’s affliction, I would not know this kind of love.
This is how I live; this is how I survive. This is the negotiation and the contract of a mother of a zombie. This is the deal we make: to sit in stillness and breathe and feel what is in this very moment. This is the joy of the present moment. It may be just the feeling of each foot walking up the steps. This is the present moment. I ask myself if I can feel, smell, touch, taste, hear, and breathe in all that happens around this dilemma of the mother of an addict.
And then I think, as I unearth the life of the tree that made this bowl, of the years it spent in the sun, rain, and wind; the days and nights this piece of carved-out wood survived. It is in my view again and I realize…As long as she can breathe air, she is alive under the sickness. This is the conversation between my mind and my heart. Someday, perhaps, the embrace will be clean.