Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Reaching for love

For a long time now, I have tried to not write about grief. I thought if I wrote about other things, this need to write about grief would just go away. However, for the last few weeks thatís all that has been wanting to come out. A few nights in a row, I have woken up in the middle of the night with words streaming into my mind that wanted to be written. I would have to open up my iPad and dictate into my Notes App. Yesterday, while I was in the Giardino Bardini I decided to bring a notebook with me. For a while, I hadnít wanted to have a notebook on me because I didnít really want to write about grief outside of my home. Often I am inspired to write when I am in one of Florenceís gardens soaking up her energy. I initially didnít want to pull out my notebook after I sat down on a wooden bench under the warm afternoon sun facing east, but I did.

Me, My Heart, and I :: Reaching for love

It has been over seventeen years since my mother has passed away. Many people told me that time heals all wounds, but they were wrong. Time might muffle the pain, make the visual memories a little hazier, but time alone doesnít heal the wound, especially that of a broken heart. When my mother took her last breath, I felt as if a hole was left behind in my heart. I had hoped that time would weaken the depth of my loss and the intensity of my emotions, but I realize now that it wasnít supposed to.

For years, I have just forged ahead. What else could I do? I couldnít wallow in my pain and cry every day. I had to live my life, I had to move forward, and I had to heal my broken heart. Iíve read a lot of books on grief and many other books about being motherless. While I can relate to much of what was written, I believe that grief is a personal journey that you donít know how to go through until youíre going through it. Itís like learning how to swim only after being thrown into the water. Grief doesnít seem to be a staircase that you walk up and then reach the top, look back, and never return to it. Grief has felt to me more like an interminable spiral. A part of me believes that maybe there is no end to grief. Sometimes I think that we need grief to remind us how precious love is how important it is for us to be present. Even if grief has left a scar on our heart, itís not there to make us suffer, but rather to remind us that the only remedy is to open our hearts more and to love with greater abandon.

For the last few months, I have been thinking about how to have a healthier relationship with my mom and feel her love more strongly. It is so important to me that I made it my one new yearís resolution. While I was strolling around the gardens and admiring the pink roses, a sense of knowing came over me. Maybe my sadness has been covering up the love I have for my mother in my heart. Almost as if my sadness was not allowing me to access my love for her.

I have never been adept at loving people at a distance because I donít like longing for anyone and for me, longing is suffering. However, over the last couple of years, I have learned what it means to keep my love alive for someone at a distance. Not just ďwhen youíre here, I love you and when youíre not, I donít think about you so I donít suffer.Ē It wasnít easy initially for me, but I kept my heart open to my beloved. I discovered that loving someone had everything to do with me and nothing to do with the other person. No one gives me his or her love. I nurture my love for another person and that is what I feel when I think I am loved. Iím basically loving me for the other person and for me.

In the letter I wrote to my mom, I told her that I missed her and that I wanted to receive a sign from her so I knew she was around me. But, then I wrote to her that maybe if my emotional state is one of sadness, she canít connect with me. I wrote that maybe I need to be in a state of love to connect with her. Itís like I needed to be tuned into her frequency, like a radio station.

ďMe,

After I finished writing my letter, I received the following words in one slow and loving block: ďFace the sun and there you will find me.Ē It was an odd sentence because I would never word it like that. I had been looking down at my notebook and then down at the garden so I turned my head toward the sun and smiled. Was that my mom who was talking to me? I donít know, but I could feel my love for her expand.

Thanks to my letter, I understood that I was holding onto my sadness because it was the strongest emotional connection I could feel. I didnít know what kind of connection I could have with her if it wasnít sadness. I thought my love for her had vanished like hers had, but I discovered that I now have to cultivate more love inside of me to connect to her.

While I was on my way out of the garden, I noticed a tiny feather fluttering in the grass. Because the wind was tossing my hair around, I was surprised that the feather remained nestled between a few blades of grass. I had to kneel down and stretch my arm out to take a picture of it with my iPhone. I have always believed that when I see a feather, it was my mom saying hello. I was never sure, but I liked the idea of it. It wasnít until I was scrolling through my photos to decide on which one to post on my Instagram account that I noticed that the feather looked like an angel. It not only delighted me, but touched me deeply. Maybe that was from my mom.

Writing a letter to my mom from the garden yesterday allowed me to understand more deeply that if I open my heart and feel my love for my mother, I will feel hers too. Her love for me didnít go away when she passed, which is what I believed. Her love was just hiding under my sadness.

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