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May 11, 2012

To Mothers Everywhere

Jumoke HortonI thrashed my brain from the first day of May wondering how I would remember my Jumoke. Does he really hear me? Is he really here just because the memory of him lives so vividly in my heart? How would I pay tribute almost 3 years since he left this earth to continue his journey? Words didn't make sense, so I started moving frantically around the house looking for every card he had written me and every card and letter I had written him that I have ensconced in baskets throughout the house. The more intentionally I sought a card with words from him, the louder his voice spoke to me through my quilt of sorrow. You see, I have this quilt of sorrow sewn together from my grief and soaked with my tears and threaded with memories of my Jumoke. His voice became louder as I went from room to room grabbing handfuls of cards, seeking words, passing the pictures hugging the walls in every room of the house with images of Jumoke. The pictures are for anyone who had never seen him, to know he had blessed this earth with his beautiful self. Suddenly his voice reached through my sorrow and a vision of his his little face looking into my eyes the very first time we met. His eyes grabbed mine as his bloody, fluid covered body lay between my breasts before he was whisked off by the nurses to be cleaned, weighed and swaddled. I was smitten. What love was this that closed portals of selfishness into open spaces? I spent my life trying to be worthy of this little being who chose me as the vehicle to this planet? There he stood with me, midway in my stride, as I gipped cards with the names of so many people who loved and miss him too, reminding me that he is me - and always will be. We are separated physically, but the connection of love beats every moment of everyday as I think of him thinking of me. I went back to bed, hand full of quotes and cards from people all over the country who had sent words of comfort for my loss, not knowing almost three years later their tribute of Jumoke to me allowed me to remember that he also lives in those people. He lives in my friends and his, in my family and my husband, in his buddy/dad Angelo, and his biological father, Benny. He lives. Who could have ever met him and not been swept up in the mighty, sweet being he was? No one.

So I climbed back into bed, and as Jumoke's sweet voice serenaded me with songs of his laughter, I added these words to my quilt of sorrow from the cards and letters of beloved friends and families that wept with me, comforted me, and who loved Jumoke too.
  • "How can I go on?" she asked me, her husband of 34 years. I wanted to answer, but wasn't sure the time was right to tell her. You'll go on, I wanted to say, because the human spirit has an amazing resiliency. You'll go on, I wanted to say, because you're stubborn. You'll go on, I wanted to say, because the alternative just won't do. You'll go on, I wanted to say, because even if life seems horrid and frightening and unfair and wretched right now, you know that, in addition to all those things, it can be not half-bad as well. I wanted to say it all, but instead I just said, "I don't know, I don't know," and held her hand. She seemed to think it good enough answer at the time."

  • "He could have given in, and things might have gone better for him. Yes, I suppose, he could have given in, but he didn't because you see, to give in would have meant that Jumoke was buying into what the world thought he should be, and he, much to the confusion and consternation of the world--said that life could actually come from death"

  • "Patricia, in the words of Charles Filmore - the body is destroyed in death, not the soul and spirit, The soul rests until it is renewed, revitalized, and made ready for its new days experience."

  • "It is because of love that we grieve, and because of love, also that we are comforted in our sorrow. Dear Patricia - In quiet may you find comfort. In memory may you find healing. In the power of love, may you find peace. During this trying time words will never comfort you. It's your faith in God."

  • "A generous heart that gives freely and openly. A wise heart that sees the best in people. A gentle heart that is sensitive to the feelings and needs of others... A beautiful heart - that was Jumoke and always will be."

  • "Just a note to say "I'm sorry and I love you so very much"

One of my most prized possessions is a print in beveled glass given to me by Jumoke, "The poem made famous by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, THE INVITATION. Some days when I want to give into the pain I read it, and this phrase is especially meaningful...

"It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain,
mine or your own,
without moving to hide it
or fade
or fix it."

Oriah's writings remind me that every life has pain and sorrow. It is part of being human. "When the pain is large, when I feel I cannot expand enough to hold it, I send out the simple prayer "Help me" and allow myself to relax into being held by something larger than myself."

Thank you to everyone who has stood with me during the darkest times of my soul. Thank you for being with me and sending your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for loving me and Jumoke all the years of his life. I thank you for the continued calls, prayers, cards, gifts that arrive when I need them most. I am convinced just as Jumoke reaches across worlds to hug me and look into my eyes as he did the moment I first looked into his, that we are closer then ever. I am blessed to have been his mother for 34 years but the good news is that he lives as long as I do. I want to end this post wishing all of you a loving Mother's Day. Whatever your circumstances are with your child or children they are a gift that changes you. To be a mother you just have to be open to a love different from any other love you will experience, that only children can evoke.

And finally, thank you President Obama for giving the gift to children whose parents are not validated by the law of the land. With the compassion of a man loved deeply by his mother, you remembered that parenting has no gender, only love.

Happy Mother's Day beloved from my heart to yours, Patricia

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