“April is the cruelest month, ” said T.S. Eliot in The Wasteland.
Indeed it is a bittersweet month for me.
In early spring, cheery blossoms bloom from the dormant gloom of winter. April brings the tradition and symbolism of Easter – rebirth from death. Each day, the sun rises earlier and sets later, promising fuller brighter days.
In younger days, this brought the promise of fuller, happier days, continuous growth and boundless potential. Life just got better and better. My life continued happily until one weekend in April 2003.
I had a wonderful family with three great kids, I enjoyed fulfilling work as a family physician and I had great relationships with my parents. Life was close to perfect, until I received a call from my sister. Our previously healthy mom suddenly collapsed and died during an exercise class at the community centre. She received immediate CPR but she could not be revived.
Life is never the same after losing a parent even as an adult. For the first time, the person who knew me best and loved me unconditionally and who from the moment of my birth had always been an integral part of my life was no longer alive.
Nothing had ever seemed so startling, unbelievable and irreversible than this.
Gone were the expectations of my mother seeing my daughter and sons grow up, sharing their achievements and their joys, and sharing her abundant love, kindness and wisdom. A whole future of positive possibilities collapsed in a moment.
Life would never be the same. Life would never be perfect.
Eventually, it was possible to be happy again. I would remember my mom’s gentle words, generous spirit and kind acts and know that they made a difference – a positive impact on others and in my life. My daughter though not quite four remembered baking, shopping and playing with my mom. My sons remembered her warmth and care.
And I would find happiness giving forward to my children – and to others in my life – the love and kindness my mother so generously gave to me.
Happiness can be regained in acts of grace. I graciously accept the gift of my mom’s life and the love she gave. I graciously accept that our greatest gifts are not ours to hold forever – but to appreciate, let go and give forward in the cycles of life and nature.
We are connected through our memories and losses, suffering and joy, and in the love we accept and give forward. We can enjoy happiness, give it to others and give it back to the world.