There are many things blowing in the breeze...and that can be glorious.

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. 

Until now.

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.



Carrie Koch said...

that is a beautiful epiphany. i'm glad it found you on the breeze.

Eric said...

Glad the epiphany didn't sound like a a 5 year old with two microphones from Disney screaming/singing along to "Frozen"s "Let it go." Have you heard of the song?

That was going on during my vacation, and I had an epiphany: "I'm glad my daughter cam into my life at 13".

But seriously, glad you were able to forgive yourself.

Vodka Mom said...

Eric- you don't know HOW close I was to finding a way to put "Let it Go" in this post! i DO work with five year olds, after all!!


Anonymous said...

Sassy in Erie? I'm just a few minutes to the west.

Kathy L. - A long time reader who works in Kdg & 1st grade...
22 years and counting. I get you & "Frank" - loved the book.

Mocadeaux said...

We work so hard to raise our kids to be independent, productive adults then they go off and be all independent and leave us behind! And, although we miss them, we are proud. I'm so happy you had this epiphany AND that you got to enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Cayman Islands during your break. Happy New Year!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I am struggling with my own guilt. I did not make it to my dad in time. I so wanted to be there holding his hand when he left this world instead of fighting traffic in an effort to get there. I had promised him I would be there. I know he would never want me to feel this way, but I do.

Expat mum said...

That's a very moving post and I'm glad you've found peace. We should never assume we know the feelings of our parents, especially when we think they might be negative. Parents usually want the best for their children, as your mother did. Similarly, if, like Kathy here, we don't make it to their deathbed, it's not for want of trying and it's not something we had control over. They would not want us to be guilt-ridden about it. x

Anonymous said...


Joanna Jenkins said...

Ahh, VM... I really love this post. So glad you were able to get away and have this lovely awakening.
xoxox jj

justsomethoughts... said...

i cant make you laugh, but i can say that i wonder if we are burdened for as long as we need to be, and then the catharsis comes when it needs to come. each when we're ready for it and can accept/assimilate it.

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#1Nana said...

I've learned a few lessons through the years that once I recognized the truth, I wanted to slap my forehead and exclaim "Duh!" I think one of the lessons that I've learned is that the lessons come when the universe decides we're ready. You must have been ready.

This is a beautiful piece. I so admire your writing!

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