I realize when your mother takes her own life it can make you somewhat hyper-vigilant to loss. For years I knew my mom was vulnerable to suicide. She had made a previous attempt jumping from a balcony, puncturing a lung and breaking a few ribs. I’d also received many calls from the ER informing me that her blood alcohol concentration was dangerously high. And all of this was hopelessly beyond my control. And so you live in fear and you say the serenity prayer daily. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I have a cat, Hafiz who is losing weight despite eating huge amounts (and his thyroid level is normal). Hopefully, his ailment is stemming from a food absorption issue and not cancer. I love this cat like he was a new born infant, probably because I don’t have a child of my own.
When my mother died, Hafiz was a great support.
But after my mother died, I stopped attending Al-Anon meetings, the support group for family and friends of those suffering from alcoholism. I’d had enough of meetings, thank you very much. I wanted freedom from the impact this insidious disease had on my life. And with my mom (and father) deceased, I naively thought suffering would dissipate. I forgot that freedom comes from working a program. And all of us, no matter our situation, have to work some kind of program in life, because let’s face it, life is just too hard otherwise.
So as I watched my nerves unravel trying to figure out Hafiz’s condition and whether he is going to live or perish, I suddenly understood the connection. You can’t schedule death and you don’t always get to say goodbye. The fact that I travel frequently to teach, and thus have to leave my precious boy in someone else’s care, pushes every control freak button in my body. And the thought of losing Hafiz without being able to say goodbye triggers the profound loss that came with not being able to say goodbye to my mother.
But if I am to acknowledge that I do indeed have a Higher Power, then I must surrender my mom, Hafiz, and myself to His care. I must allow myself to feel my feelings and then let grace wash over me. And I must keep repeating these words: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”