I realized something about grief today. It's the most clear and meaningful realization I've had since we lost Mama Hop. Coincidentally (or not), Merryn had texted me "I miss you" in this moment of clarity as I added another crumpled tissue to my pile. I immediately shared my realization with Merryn because she "gets me" on some inexplicable level. She also carries a lot of Mama Hop in her. Those two were deeply connected.
I fielded a tough phone call this morning about the loss of a friend and neighbor that Travis and I cherished named Elaine. Upon hanging up the call, I felt compelled to write a sympathy note to her family. Before I began, I bowed my head, closed my eyes, and prayed. I wanted to channel Elaine; to call to mind her memory and to share some special things about her and how she touched our lives.
The process of writing that sympathy card was very cathartic in that I couldn't help but call to mind my own mother's passing. I felt her presence very close to me as I was writing. Words flowed out effortlessly and even though I was writing to Elaine's daughters, I had an epiphany about my own grief process:
When we extract the very best qualities in someone that we've lost and we try to exemplify those qualities in our daily lives, we are honoring their memory and strengthening their legacy in the best possible way.
Strength is found in moments when I know I'm making Mama Hop proud. When I excavate patience in moments of motherhood where I'm on the brink of snapping, I feel Mama Hop's pride. When I put my own agenda aside to do something thoughtful for someone else, I feel Mama Hop's pride. And when I laugh off something that might otherwise get me into a neurotic frenzy, I can hear Mama Hop bellow "You go girl!"
We are all humans; we have strengths and weaknesses. Mama Hop and I overlapped in many ways and we were far apart in other ways. It's cathartic to attempt to close that gap by summoning qualities that she possessed - patience, selflessness, resilience, and serenity - and push myself to honor her legacy by demonstrating those qualities in my life.
To embrace the power and the responsibility of sharing the best parts of Mama Hop with the next generation offers both purpose and healing.