Today is my day off, and I’d planned to spend it outside in nature, maybe to pay a visit to my friend’s farm, then to some off-the-beaten-path hiking trail in rural Maryland. But it’s raining. Still, it should let up soon, and so I’ll go anyway in spite of the mud because I really don’t care about mud, and the last thing I want to do is be cooped up in my now messy room all day. I’ve decided that I’ll take this semester off school but I won’t quit forever, I hope, unless some other amazing opportunity presents itself. Something that doesn’t require work or money—haha, as if.
Anyway, the thought of not being in nature is just unbearable to me right now. Yesterday when I went out to bike the trail I normally bike, I had the plan to make it to the creek, where usually no one is around, and water flows over rocks. It was Wednesday morning at 9am, so surely not many people would be on the trail.
Wrong. It seemed that everyone in Montgomery County was on the trail. No one had to work yesterday apparently. Every lawn mower, leaf blower, and weed whacker in the metro area was on the trail, including by the creek under the bridge where I thought I’d have a nice meditative and peaceful time, reflecting on life and death. But no. I guess for whatever reason that was not God’s plan for me yesterday.
All that cacophony just made it more apparent, as does everything else lately, that I cannot stay in the city, or really what are suburbs of DC, nor do I want to move to rural Maryland. Instead I would like to get back to the South, this time to North Carolina, in spite of how politically conservative most of the people are there. Everyone is just friendlier and warmer there, and the nature is so wild and beautiful—not that nature isn’t wild and beautiful everywhere. I believe that every state in this country has beautiful spaces, but where my mother lived was so beautiful and peaceful, and I’m so grateful she spent the last 10 years of her life in such a gorgeous and welcoming space. I just wish I’d gone to live with her when I had the chance two years ago. For whatever reason that I may never understand, that was not God’s plan for me. I’d planned on moving there eventually, but I knew if I moved there I’d never move away, and I’d wanted to wait until Mom was a little older. She seemed in such good health. She was so vibrant and full of life and energy.
If you’re reading this now and your mother is still alive, tell her how much you love her. If you have an opportunity to go live near her, take it. Today could be her last.
It’s hurtful when people don’t acknowledge my mother’s death or reach out. My sister’s in-laws have not even called her to offer their condolences. Some of my friends have not reached out. I get it. If you haven’t experienced it, you don’t know what to say or do. I certainly never knew what to say, though I like to think I at least offered a “sorry for your loss” comment which is really all that’s needed. But maybe I didn’t always do that. Nothing anyone can say changes anything, but it’s nice to know others care.
Those who’ve lost their mothers tell me that there will always be a void, that you never stop missing your mom, and it hurts no matter how old you are. I’m grateful that I got 40 years with her. My friend who died a year ago left behind a 13-year-old daughter, and to this day I’m not sure how she died except that it was either suicide or an overdose. One of my childhood friends lost her mother to suicide when she and her sisters were little. There is plenty of tragedy in this world.
Speaking of tragedy, I’m grateful my mom didn’t have to witness all the political and environmental strife this country is heading toward. I don’t want to be negative, but it scares me to think of who could become the next President, that climate change is destroying the planet, that gun violence is killing more and more people every day, especially young black men. It feels like the end of the world is so close.
Yet when I hear spiritual leaders talk, they speak of a revolution, an evolution in our thinking, that more and more of us are expanding our awareness, opening up to the possibility of something else, something more than living and working for money and power and greed and instead finding peace in helping others and in prayer, meditation, and mindfulness.
But then I wonder if every religion or spiritual approach doesn’t talk of the end in this way, knowing that not only as a person am I mortal, but as a species we have a limited time on this earth, that every species must die eventually. And then what? That is the question.