CARRY ME HOME: a daughter's story of loss, courage and hope.
"Do you think Catherine realizes?"
Two women stood together in the courtyard of the house I grew up in. Beyond them steps led down to the lawn, bathed in afternoon sunlight, where other groups of people gathered, holding cups of tea, little fingers cocked in the proper English manner, as they sipped and chatted.
"I don't know," the second woman replied. "Perhaps she is still in shock."
I was passing through the doorway behind them, a plate of sandwiches in my hand and I stopped still in amazement.
"Do I realize?" I wanted to scream. "Do any of you realize? Do any of you have the faintest idea what a nightmare this is?"
For this was no ordinary tea party. It was my Mother's funeral. She had died a few days before in a blinding crash of glass and smashing steel, right next to me. Her body slumped on mine, her blood dripping into my eyes, thicker than tears. She was giving me a driving lesson when we had the accident. She was fifty-six years old and I was seventeen. In a matter of moments my world shattered. My mother was dead and I was left to deal with the wreckage and I had absolutely no idea how to do that.
For years after the accident I pushed the pain away because I didn't know how else to deal with it. Unfortunately by doing so I just prolonged it, for it didn't magically go away. Instead it turned into a living wound, festering beneath my skin. Although I did not, could not admit it, even to myself, my life was misery because of the unexpressed grief and guilt I carried. I was trapped - imprisoned by a past I did not know how to release or heal.
And not just my mother's death, but the whole of my past - the fears and hurts of childhood, the rules and conditioning of my family and culture had all solidified in my mind, as strong and rigid as the bars of any prison. Surely, I thought to myself one day in my early twenties, life does not have to be like this? I have since discovered that it doesn't.
The greatest gift in the pain of my early years and perhaps especially my mother's death was that I was hurting so badly it forced me to embark on a healing journey. Like all human beings, I wanted to be happy and I was determined to find out how I could be. Over time this search revealed itself to be a spiritual journey driven by a much deeper longing, by a hunger in my soul for love and truth and wholeness.
This longing was the pull towards spirit and the mystery we often refer to as God. I don't mean the God of the Bible, I mean the invisible, ineffable realm of spirit which is the source of all life. So although the pain was an incentive to begin the process of healing, it was not the cause itself. For I don’t believe the desire to grow and fulfill our true potential comes from being wounded, I believe it is programmed into the very fabric of being human. An acorn is destined to grow into an oak tree. A lion cub into a lion. It is our destiny as human beings to wake up, to become whole, to embody our true spirit.
So mine is a story about the journey to wholeness. It is about learning to heal emotionally and to turn the lead of tragedy into the gold of transformation. It is about becoming authentic and real, breaking free from the cage of my ego and conditioning. It is about learning to live consciously by freeing myself from the chains of habit and the past. It is about choosing to live a life of love moment to moment. It is about letting the deepest longing of my soul carry me home. Above all it is about awakening spiritually and learning to celebrate and rejoice in the light and spirit that is present in all things.