I spent the weekend in mourning the loss of my stepmother.
She passed away last fall, and because our family was not able to gather, there were just an intimate few with her in those final days. I was fortunate to be by her side, holding her hand as she drifted from this realm into the next. My mesa held space for me, unassuming, at her feet.
During the months that followed, there were opportunities for healing in ceremony: an Aya despacho created in the dining room at my father’s house – the heart of their home, a water ceremony with her dragon boat team, and finally, a memorial to celebrate her life. And yet, in the wake of it all, it was the quiet moments in the solitude of the forest and by the waters is where the rituals of loss and letting go were the most profound.
The night before the celebration, the memories flooded my dreams like a river spilling over the banks. I found her in every waterway of my mind, heart, and body and found myself right back in the snags of grieving. Unprotected, my thoughts turned anxious and fell back into old narratives. I started to worry about facing a room full of family and friends. What parts of old power dynamics would surface? If and when would I have to claim my alliances? Who would feel included? Excluded? Who would be the favourite? I landed back in my body and in my breath, and the spiralling of thoughts quickly ended with a point. The intent for the day of celebration became the storytelling – and I would only “choose to tell the stories that grow corn.”
That afternoon, like many others in my other brave community, I stood up and spoke of my stepmother’s life, her gifts, and her legacy. Each of us chose to share memories of her fierce loyalty, her generosity and inclusivity and most of all, her laugh. We were so full of feasting on the tales of hope and victory of the heart that there was no desire to speak of the ugliness of the cancer, or the decline or the unfinished business. This is the work of the light carriers: to show up and serve our people and to tell the stories that brighten the flame of love and belonging.