Monday, May 30, 2011


That thorny path, those stormy skies,
Have drawn our spirits nearer;
And rendered us, by sorrow's ties,
Each to the other dearer.
                                                       ~ BERNARD BARTON

May is a busy month with lots of things to commemorate: Mother's Day, lots of birthdays in our family, and Memorial Day.  Do you ever really think about what Memorial Day is or do you just enjoy having a three day weekend to spend with family and friends?
My dad's family always has a reunion on Memorial Day weekend.  They started this before I was born.  My father lost so many family members in World War 2, including two brothers and a beloved cousin who was like a brother to him.  Because of this they started getting together on Memorial Day each year where they would all meet at the cemetery to decorate the graves, hear stories about those who were gone, and cement the bonds of family love.  Afterwards they would meet back at my grandparents' home for a potluck lunch and more memory sharing.  I remember as just a little girl how we would wear our nicest clothes to go to the cemetery and Mom would caution us to be reverent as we visited the graves. 
Now over 60 years later the family still has these same rituals and it is lovely to meet once a year with family members who are scattered far and wide.  Last year I was able to go, and some cousins I had not seen in years were able to come.  It was a time of sharing old memories with much laughter and tears.  It seems we are all losing parents and siblings as we are growing older, making it a bittersweet time.
May is also a time of sadness for me as it was the month when I lost my mother – she died on Memorial Day in 2004.  I can't believe she has been gone seven years, it seems like yesterday.  I don't think you ever get over missing your mother, I still miss her every day.
George Eliot said, “There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and to have recovered hope.”  How true this is.  How hard it hits you when you are not expecting it. 
Sorrow and grief take many forms and have many causes.  It is the loss of important things in our lives. It may be the loss of a loved one through death or the end of a relationship.  It may be the loss of a job, or way of life, a home we miss, or our faculties and health as we age.  Whatever it is we have all had losses that bring us sorrow.  As you think about the word SORROW what comes to your mind?  How has it affected you?  Is it bittersweet for you as for me?  Does it weigh you down or just put this whole existence on Earth into perspective?  Has time softened the pain and made it more like a warm blanket of memories to wrap in on dreary days?  
At such times it helps to remember what Sue Monk Kidd said in The secret Life of Bees, “It is the peculiar nature of the world to go on spinning no matter what sort of heartbreak is happening.”