28 July 2006

You Gotta Be and Believe You Can Fly

Friday 6:54pm 28July06

On July 1, 1997, I went to Mount Royal in Montreal with my Aunt and scattered my mother's ashes. This was what my mother wanted. I let some of her ashes scatter from my fingers so I could feel one last physical connection to my mother. My aunt and I got weepy but managed to keep our emotions together. I had always envisioned that I would do this ritual alone but after my mom died unexpectedly and my aunt gave me suggestions of what I should do then would call me back and say, "She was your mother, do what you think you should do," I knew that she would have to be there with me. She would need this closure too.

It was a beautiful sunny day. It was the type of day that reminded me of the years of summers I'd spent up at the Mountain with my mother. The times we'd played frisbee and drank Black Tower and smoked the odd joint. We were 22 years apart. We did a lot of wild things together more like sisters and less like mother and daughter. It was the perfect day to give my mother back to the Earth.

When my Aunt and I got back into the car the first song I heard was, You Gotta Be by Des'ree.
It felt appropriate. It felt like my mother, the angels, God was giving me something to hold on to.
Here is a sampling of the lyrics:

Listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds
Try and keep your head up to the sky
Lovers, they may cause you tears
Go ahead release your fears
Stand up and be counted
Don't be ashamed to cry
You gotta be
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold
You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm
You gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day
Herald what your mother said
Read the books your father read
Try to solve the puzzles in your own sweet time
Some may have more cash than you
Others take a different view
My Oh my...

When the song ended I commented to my Aunt how it felt like someone sent me that advice to continue on. She agreed, turned the radio off and said, "We should probably listen to some gospel, if you don't mind."
I agreed as she slipped in the tape.

The next song we heard was, "I believe I can Fly" by R Kelly
It was my second gift. I'd never paid attention to this song before. I think it came out just on the cusp of his subsequent underage girl problems but I never think about that when I hear the song:

I used to think that I could not go on
And life was nothing but an awful song
But now I know the meaning of true love
I'm leaning on the everlasting arms

If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly

See I was on the verge of breaking down
Sometimes silence can seem so loud
There are miracles in life I must achieve
But first I know it starts inside of me, oh

If I can see it, then I can be it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it...

I felt like that song said as a message to me that my mother could now be whoever she wanted to be - more than she ever felt she was in this life. She was transformed. I felt like that song said as a message to me that I could be whoever I wanted to be. I chose to feel a connection to my mother and God and magic and inspiration because of the two songs I heard. I chose to feel that whenever I heard either of those songs I could pretend or maybe really feel that my mother was still close by. I can't remember hearing any other songs in my aunt's car although I know she was playing a tape and that it would take more than two songs to get back to her house.

I'm coming into the tenth year of her death this December and I can still have bouts of tears. She still appears in my dreams at night especially when I'm feeling out of sorts. I've heard those two songs in some of my darkest periods and at some times almost as an extra injection of inspiration, a morning smile. Some days I say, "Hi Mom," when I hear them and others...

Christmas of 96 I was too numb for anything to penetrate my mind. Christmas of 97, I fared much better. I spent Christmas at K & B's house. I hadn't eaten anything since early morning before my friends opened all their presents and while waiting for dinner I finally had to admit out loud, "I'm so hungry it's making me sick. K, you have to give me something to munch on."
When dinner was finally ready we put our portions of food on our own plates in the kitchen and B said, "I should turn on some music." It was the radio.

The opening strains of, I Believe I can Fly, started and I murmured under my breath, "It's like she's wishing me a Merry Christmas."
B said, "what did you just say?"
I said, "I can't really repeat it because I'm about to start crying."
At the dinner table, I looked at the beautiful food on my plate. I was so damn hungry. I sobbed and sobbed hearing those lyrics and feeling my mother's presence and thanking All That Is for such a touching moment and really feeling that I was never going to spend another Christmas with my mother and yet she would always be there.

Earlier this week, Tiger Woods won his first tournament since his father passed away and he broke down, in public. I sobbed on my way to work as I walked past all those newspaper boxes with pictures of Tiger's face and those tears and that pained expression. It's those milestones that are hard after you lose a parent that you were so close to. Your life and memories get split in half between the things that happened before your parent died and the things that happened after your parent died. Tiger's tournament win was my Christmas dinner - all the shared memories that aren't going to happen. Because of Tiger, I decided to share this story. Because of Tiger I wanted to put out there to anyone who comes across this or cares that there is pain for those who are left behind after a death of a loved one but there is also magic and a continuous connection that will inspire you to tears.

And remember, you gotta be and believe you can fly.

with tears in my eyes, EY

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