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My Teacher

Septembers are hard for me.

As the air cools and the trees change,

I change and remember

the past which holds my present.

In this tree-house view of my life

I find some sense of her life

believing a purpose was fulfilled

utilizing her wisdom and her acceptance.

I can see the arc in her story

as she grew and struggled

and suffered and laughed

reaching into our hearts.

A teacher in the lives of

everyone she loved, and as every

good teacher knows, they learn

how to live and laugh too.

I sit in meditation and feel whole

as I empty myself of my human life.

I sit in my humanity and feel grief

as I feel the lack of her human presence.

I am both a soul living and growing in

my human body and a human being

understanding my soul feeling the

human loss of another.

Just as I struggle with the ego and the heart,

I struggle with soul and humanity

practicing acceptance in life’s losses

and opening to the vastness of love.

Grief comes when it comes

without an invitation, arriving on

my doorstep like a yearly visitor,

coat tattered and worn from life.

What choice do I have but accept

its presence and allow a place for welcoming

and respect its journey for it needs

to be heard and honored.

How different this yearly visitor is

compared to moments when I connect

with her essence and feel the immense

love and freedom of who she really is.

She was a caged butterfly

needing space to fly free.

My acceptance freed her to

be who she really is –

My Daughter, My Teacher.

by Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t always mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child and you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure you really are strong you really do have worth and you learn and you learn with every goodbye, you learn…

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you so much for that. You seem like you didn’t want to share your tears, but they’re so important for each of us. I know everyone has that experience of grief. It just demonstrated how the waves of grief can come upon us, unbidden. What came to me in the meditation was, not even how we all grieve for our own loses, but we support each other who are grieving. And it’s this wonderful, horrible way we tag team each other. It is something we do for each other. I am helping some other people deal with grief right now. And I know that when I’m dealing with grief, they will support me, and it’s a wonderful feeling of helping each other, helping other humans through that time. I got a lot out of that reading.

  • I’ve had a fair amount of experiences when I’m feeling pain, people can’t deal with it and they interrupt me and put up their hand and walk away. That is so hurtful. It takes a lot of courage to be with someone else’s pain because we feel the pain.

  • It’s amazing to me how authentic and real you are with us. We’ve never physically met. I agree that we feel for each other and how much that is helpful. Your tears touched me. After that, I saw a big gift. I appreciate the gift of you and everyone in this group. It’s a true gift, not to be underestimated, each day we live and each day we come to this group.

  • Thank you for your authenticity. I never thought I had a right to grieve. I was supposed to suck it up, be strong, and move on. I’ve been learning, I do have that right. It’s important for me to grieve for myself. We support each other through that. I was told, “I’ll give you something to cry about if you want to cry.” All these messages, like it wasn’t okay to grieve. I had an ectopic pregnancy in 1987 and I didn’t realize that was a loss or that I should grieve that until two years after that. All these things are our teachers, and it depends how I look at it, how I perceive it.

  • I would hope in this group and in my life that we all take the words “I’m sorry” off the table. That’s where I get stuck, in the I’m sorry. My hope is that I can normalize—I had to shut my grief and tears down for so long and it was so hard. And I got that hand too -- “that’s too much for me.” For me, I’m sorry for that person. It says that their grief is inaccessible to them. I know it comes out automatically, and I hear it in women who apologize for living, for everything, for feeling, for raging. I really would like to take the apologizes off the table.

  • It does come out automatically. It bubbles up because it comes from so deep.

  • I love the metaphor from a few days ago (see Sept 4 blog) about the rut. Because that’s the rut. I honor your grief. I welcome your grief. Because I know you would welcome mine.

  • I’m on a campaign, every time I hear a woman say I’m sorry or they apologize, unless it’s a business situation, I catch them. And most of the time, they are astonished. They don’t even realize they said it. You deserve to have the feelings that you do.

  • I echo everything. In the middle of my meditation, I had a very clear vision of opening a door into a house that was just bathed in light and warm and comforting. And everyone here was there, in person instead of little squares. And it was brief but wonderful, and it made me feel that we are all supporting each other, supporting you, supporting ourselves. It was lovely.

  • When you were reading, I was crying for you. Someone mentioned that if it hadn’t been for you being willing to be so open about what you’ve been through, they’d be far worse off. I appreciate it so much. I can’t even quantify how important it is to be. When you said a caged butterfly, it reminded me of my family member who is like a caged bird suffering. I want to thank everyone thinking about us yesterday. It meant a lot to be thought of. I appreciate everyone here and what you are doing. It can save a life and a soul to have someone so helpful and honest.

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