I’ve carried a burden in my heart for 30 years.
It’s a burden I had somehow managed to tuck into an envelope and move to the farthest reaches of my heart. It stays hidden there most of the time, but occasionally I hear it gently knocking as a reminder of its presence.
My mother died thirty years ago. She was a widow after losing her husband seven years earlier, and moved to Orlando when her three children were out on their own. She found a full time job with the Civil Service, a part time job at a department store and made many friends. She was dating a younger man from our hometown, and enjoying her time in Orlando with folks she had met when we lived there years ago.
I attended law school in California and had convinced my younger brother to join me. College simply wasn’t for him, and he ended up playing baseball for a triple A ball team in San Diego. My sister married a Navy man and was living in Charleston. My mother was an empty nester.
Then The Powers That Be played a cruel joke on all of us. She died suddenly after a fall in her kitchen.
For many years I felt incredibly guilty for leaving the nest. I felt just horrible for convincing my brother to come out west, leaving her alone. It’s a burden I've never been able to shake. I don't think of it as often these days, but it still manages to make my heart ache every once in a while.
It happened when I was enjoying some quiet moments at the beach over Thanksgiving break. Oh sure, being in the Cayman Islands on a white sandy beach can make any burden seem tiny, but this particular trouble was an important one.
I was sitting in a chair looking out at the water and had an epiphany. I’ve HEARD of epiphanies, but I pretty much thought they came with sounding trumpets and showers of confetti.
I was wrong.
Instead, it came on the gentle ocean breeze whispering into my heart. It told me a secret that mothers keep.
It told me that my mother was not lonely those many years ago. It told me that she wasn’t angry about her chicks flying away. It told me that she was very proud of their winged flights and of the paths they were walking. It told me that she was moving forward with her own life and happy and proud that her children were moving on with theirs. It told me that mothers know when it’s time for their children to move forward with their own journeys and that it was okay.
The breeze delivered me forgiveness for a burden I needn’t have been carrying.
That beautiful, sweet ocean breeze picked up that tiny envelope that I had tucked away in my heart, put a stamp on it,sent it blowing across the water and set me free.