Last week, I whined about all the difficulties roots have been causing in my life lately. Removing them seems to have been the solution to all kinds of problems. My experiences led me to opine that perhaps roots are the problem.
My mother died about eighteen months ago. She was my rock and my root in this life. She grounded me and helped me grow. Since she died, I have definitely felt a certain rootlessness. Somehow, I have not been sure how to be me now that she is no longer around. I have been processing my emotions fairly efficiently, but this is one feeling I have been avoiding.
In essence, I have been avoiding my own roots. It has been too painful to go down that particular hole. When I do certain activities, I desperately distract myself from thinking of my mother. I don’t often reminisce much about our lives together when she was well. There are some items of hers that she had with her at the skilled nursing facility which I hid away in a box. I could not bear the thought of looking at them. It is a strange sensation to avoid any aspect of my mother because I was so rooted to her. I would think that it would always be better to remember than not, even when the memories fill me with an adrift sort of sadness and purposelessness. Still, there are certain experiences that I avoid because they remind me that I don’t know how to grow without my roots. And my roots fill me with pain when I dig too deeply into them.
Despite how “well” I have been mourning my mother, there is one part of me that just seems stuck in mid-air by grief. I think it has to do with permanence. If I can avoid thinking about this last vestige… this last root… of sorrow, it feels like my mother could still come back to me. Of course I know she will not, but part of me unconsciously pretends she is just on a trip or something and will return to the relationship we had before her stroke.
The other night, I had a dream. I was in the middle of a large room, filled with many people. I think it was some sort of celebration. I seemed to be in the thick of whatever was going on in the room. I was cooking and answering questions for people who needed help. Everyone seemed to be coming to me for direction. I kept asking people, “is my mother here yet?” They always replied she was not there and I kept going with my tasks. I felt like I was in a whirlwind of mental and physical activity, but I still seemed to slow down periodically to ask, “is my mother here yet?” Finally, I stopped what I was doing. The whole room seemed to get quiet and everyone turned to me. I stared straight ahead, at no one and everyone, and said, “She’s never going to be here again, is she?” That is the last thing I remember about the dream, except that I woke up crying deeply and viscerally. I’ve been exhausted ever since.
The next day, I opened the box of items I brought home from the skilled nursing facility. I had forgotten what was in there. Mostly, they were photos that were on the wall by her bed. It was a weird sensation to look at them and remember our roots. I remembered the very different people we were when those pictures were taken, both before and after my mom got sick. I felt cracked… but not catastrophic. Even thinking about it now, I feel my gut sinking and my spirit sliding through a dark, heavy place. Still, I do have a spirit and it is moving.
One of the pictures I found was particularly poignant. It was a wonderful photo of me, my mother, and Tinker Bell at the Magic Kingdom soon after we moved to Florida. Looking at that photo, I remembered the day. I remembered the fun we had. I remembered laughing and loving. I remembered that I was my mother’s Tinker Bell always. I remembered the roots. Right after she died, I could not look at that picture. Today, I bought a frame and hung it on the wall.
This episode caused me to reflect on the rootlessness I have been feeling. In some ways, I think not knowing how to grow into me without my mother here is all in my mind. If I am honest, even though exploring the roots has been painful, I have been growing. My life is bigger than it used to be. My life is richer than ever and my heart is expanding all the time. There are lots of reasons for that. One of those reasons is that helping me grow joyously is my mother’s legacy to me. I may have been avoiding thinking of those roots, but they have always been there.
I started out this post with the premise that the roots are the problem. I don’t think that is right, after all. Roots may be messy and may need management, but they are miraculous as long as they keep growing.
What part have your “roots” played in your life? Are you a stronger person because your roots are strong or are you a stronger person because you had to overcome your roots? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a growing day!