My Mother’s Day tradition since my mom passed and my son came into my life has been to drive across the lake and join my Aunt’s family for food and fun with a stop at my mother’s grave to change her flowers.
Last year, and this year, Mother’s Day has been about rallying in Congo Square for a cause dear to every mother’s heart. In 2014, I was there for #bringbackourgirls sending an open prayer to bring back the kidnapped Nigerian girls. This year, I was there for #blacklivesmatter with #motherswithavision, a group we formed at the kitchen table of a friend just about a week before.
Surrounded by mothers of Black children who share a vision for how we want our children’s world to be was a powerful way to spend the day.
photo by Peter Forest
When we were driving home from the rally, Tin asked me about his birthmother who I said must be feeling him on this day. He said he was trying to understand but he still did not understand why she could not take care of him.
Then he asked, “Can people come back alive after they are in the grave?” And I told him yes, that in reality I don’t believe people really die. I also told him that some faiths believe that people are reincarnated as other beings after they leave their body. I told him I’m not sure what happens, but I know my mother is with me every day, whether it is her spirit or soul or being, her presence is palpable.
Thich Nhat Hanh pretty much summed up how I came to these feelings in his own musings:
…The day my mother died, I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune of my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.
l opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants. and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet… wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine alone but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. These feet that I saw as “my” feet were actually “our” feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.
From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time…
- Thich Nhat Hanh, in “No Death, No Fear”.