I belong to a Buddhist group along with my husband. Our teachers gave us homework to do, until we see them again. The homework is to write letters of gratitude, at least one every other week. We can write them to people who are living or dead. They need to be handwritten and hand delivered, if possible. Of course, if we are writing to someone who is dead, we can’t hand deliver the letter, so we burn them, with the thought being that the flames and smoke will deliver the letter to person. I have written several letters so far, but I haven’t yet written one to my mother. She has been dead for over twenty years now, but I think this is my chance to tell her all the things I didn’t say when she alive. I also haven’t written anything for the writing group this week. So can I combine these two assignments? Can I really share such a personal letter to my mother with this group? I don’t know because I haven’t written it yet. But I will give it a try and see.
One other thing you should know about my group is that we have been practicing meditations on our mother’s love for awhile. In these meditations we think about all the kind things our mothers did for us, all the things they taught us, all the sacrifices they made, all the ways they showed us their love. We are told to start with the fact that our mothers carried us for nine months and went through all of the discomfort and pain of those months to give us our life. So we must realize that the first act of love of our mothers was to give us life. Then we can go on from there in our meditations. So while I haven’t yet written my gratitude letter to my mother, I have been thinking about her a lot lately and I have thought about the two greatest gifts she gave me – the two, of the many, for which I am most grateful.
My mother was an only child. While I don’t remember her ever saying this, I know that she didn’t want me to be an only child. She gave me the incredible gift of my brother and two sisters. I’m sure she wanted more children herself, but I am just as sure that she did not want me to be alone in the world. She wanted me to have what she never did – the company of siblings. Today, those siblings are the dearest people in the world to me and I am eternally grateful to my mother (and my father, of course) for that gift.
The second gift my mother gave me and my brother and sisters was her steadfast, unwavering love. She sort of wrapped all of us in that love and there was nothing that we did or didn’t do that would shake her love in us. While she might disapprove of our actions, she always loved us and she let us know the difference. That environment of love was so nurturing. It provided freedom for me to experiment with life, to make mistakes and to eventually find my own individual path to becoming an adult. When I think back about it, I see her love as a kind of safety net, always there, always supporting me. My mother, throughout her life, showed me how to love. I know there are many children in the world who don’t have that kind of supportive love in their lives, and I am so very grateful to my mother for giving it to me.