The last time she felt safe was when she was a child of seven or eight. Back when each day stretched out before her like a mile, with endless possibilities of play and friends in the neighborhood, in the pool, around the block, across the street, in other houses - utterly carefree. She didn’t know of fear.
Now her fear knows no boundaries at all. It is limitless. It is an omnipresent monster residing just under the surface; easily stirred. Like when she cannot ignore it any longer and she turns on the news against her better judgement or clicks on the article, awakening the beast and letting it into her heart, her mind and her sleep. Once it has taken up residence it consumes her easily and her thoughts become a reoccurring stream of When will it happen again? Where? How? It is only a matter of time.
She would feel the same, of course she would, even if her life wasn’t responsible for another’s. But it is. She has a child of her own. Which brings the intensity of her emotions to an extreme she never realized was possible.
Her daughter’s youth mirrors her own. She is temporarily, rightfully suspended in a bubble of joy. Days that revolve around swimming and friends, sleepovers and catching fireflies. She talks about her birthday in August and Nancy Drew. She falls asleep exhausted, sun kissed and happy. She shines with kindness and an open heart. Nothing bad has left a permanent impression in her mind. Nothing bad at all.
Her mother’s mind cannot un-see the things that she’s seen.
The six year old children who kissed their mothers goodbye in the morning just like every other day and never came home. The sons and daughters, moms and dads, cousins and aunts and uncles and friends who went to work in a high rise building and never came home. Or the ones who went to the movies, the mall, drove on the expressway, were in chemistry class in high school or gathered for a party in a conference room and didn’t come home. The families who went to the airport with excitement about their holiday and never came home. The young adults who went to their favorite club to dance on a Saturday night and never came home. And then there’s the college girls who attended a party and were horrifyingly violated by another student. They came home, but were never the same.
At some point a harsh reality like this will crash through her bubble and burst it, and she will be exposed to the things that keep her mother up at night. And the veil that shielded her from the ugly in the world will be lifted gently as her mother struggles to explain the divisiveness all around us, flying in the face of their family mantra we are all in this together. She will have to tell her about the many things that make people hate one another: beliefs, skin color, who you love. She will teach her that her safety requires good choices, yes, but also an awareness that there are those who walk among us who are broken, unstable, angry, mentally ill; and some who harbor an intolerance for entire cultures, races and religions.
She will have to tell her that there is more hate than tolerance, more judgement than acceptance, more rage than love.
Her daughter’s teenage years will come and she will learn how to drive and the freedom will liberate her and put her out there. Into the mall or the movie theater or the dance club. And her mother’s fear will expand and contract, expand and contract, until she comes home.
This is my daughter. My daughter is unaware of most everything outside of her world. And I hope that veil remains over her eyes for a long time, keeping her blissfully ignorant.
Early on in my personal spiritual journey, I went through a phase of watching and reading stories of NDE’s or near death experiences. It was an integral part of shedding my ingrained catholic beliefs of heaven and hell and life ending at death.
This led me to the work of Dr. Michael Newton (Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives), which quite literally blew my mind and made me eager to experience my own past life regression; which I later did with the fabulous Nancy Hajek right here in Nashville.
In the forward to Frank Ostaskeski’s beautiful book, The Five Invitations* is this quote by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.:
Chances are until you have experienced that one great loss, this will read to you as more ominous than catalytic. Like grief itself, these types of statements can’t fully be absorbed and understood until you experience them yourself.
We can get attached to who we think we are. We can be downright stubborn about it. Our identity seamlessly and completely intertwined with what we do. What we do becomes what we are. But what if what we do is taken away from us in the blink of an eye? Who are we then?
In the words of Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu: