Home > Death, Family, Grief, Love > With love by owls

With love by owls

mom n d lightMy mom lived long enough to meet her first grandchild, my older son, Li’l D. I rejoice this 95 of 100 days.

I am adrift the other five days. Instead of feeling blessed that she met the one grandchild, I feel distraught that there are at least six more she’ll never meet.

I never know when the switch will flip. Sadness swells in my heart without clear source until some bit of conversation or memory jars me into understanding: This is missing.

wpid-img_20150622_150427.jpgMy big boy, the five-year-old my mom only knew as a five-month-old, starts first grade next week.

He’s thrilled, and I am, too.

But she should be here thrums relentless in my heart.

I was five when I started first grade, too. My mom pushed for me to be in first grade because she knew I was ready for it. I know my own five-year-old is ready for it, despite having a birthday a few days on the wrong side of California’s first grade birthday cutoff.

As Li’l D fetched first grade school supplies off supermarket shelves a week ago, she should be here pulsed through me with my every heartbeat.

When my husband and I took Li’l D for his uniforms, that pulse continued until annoyance took over. The tiny shop was too full, too disorganized, too hot. “I’m glad this is so aggravating,” I told my husband. “I’d be crying otherwise!”

Soon after, I read this post about the names Ra is called. I commented on the post with my own names. Ra replied by pointing me to two examples of bloggers calling her other than “Ra.”

One was full of owls. My mom sent me many owls while I was in law school. I never did know why, but came to like owls because she sent them.

owlringsRemembering Mom’s owls thanks to that Ra-linked blog, I posted a note about them on Instagram. I said I’d be keeping her close by wearing owl earrings that evening, even if, I told my husband, I had no idea why my mom originally figured me for an owl person.

He presented a possibility so thoughtful and beautiful, I started crying.

(I’m keeping it for myself.)

My younger sister actually knew. She commented:

Mom sent then to you because she said the owl represented wisdom… And she always thought you were the wisest and that the owl would look over you, and help guide your way. ❤

I was filled with wonder reading Rache’s words. Almost six years after Mom’s death and fifteen years after she sent me my first owl, I finally understood why … and loved how she showed she knew me, even when I didn’t get it. How she knew I yearn for wisdom, and how she had enough of her own–wrapped up in love–to forgive me many years in advance for not being there when she died.

(I think more people would do this if they understood how healing it is.)

My family and I went searching for shoes the next day. My boys were wild with tiredness, making the trip the kind of adventure for which I didn’t yearn.

Chasing after my toddler, I rounded the corner into a new aisle. I spotted a sketchbook covered with garrish owls.

owlbookMom! my heart sang through every step of buying that book.

As my husband drove us home not long after, I wished I had paper to write a post scrabbling around my brain. I started saying so aloud, but quickly caught myself. I did have paper! I even had a blue crayon thanks to our kindly lunchtime hostess.

I began scrawling thoughts in big blue print. I kept going after we got home; my baby was asleep in the back seat and sure to awaken if I tried moving him inside.

I’d barely finished writing when Littler J awakened with a howl.

owlbook blueI carried him inside and handed him to my husband before transcribing my last post, “I Don’t Give A Fuck What You Think.”

After I finished typing, I closed the sketchbook and stared at its owls.

I wasn’t missing Mom quite so much anymore in this round with grief, because I felt her there with me.

She always said she was jealous of how I knew exactly who I was. She always wanted to be what she thought other people wanted from her, though she was so very much and loudly her that her wanting didn’t often show.

Gazing at those owls after typing up my last post, I thought about the source of my wisdom. My mom would never have called her insights “wisdom,” but they revealed great wisdom all the same. They are a bridge that leads me to feel her in my own moments of insight, and all my other ones, too: in little boys’ laughter and cross looks from my husband and wondering what’s next in mid-night bouts of wakefulness.

With my eyes on owls and my heart on my mom, I thought,

You know who inspired me to seek wisdom, Mom?

Who, who?


Me and mom (icon)

Categories: Death, Family, Grief, Love Tags: , , ,
  1. August 18, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Wisdom. What a beautiful gift, Deborah.

  2. August 18, 2015 at 5:02 am

    What a wonderful bridge to your mother. When my mother-in-law passed away several years ago, I too mourned the things she’d never get to experience with her grandkids. She was such a wonderful grandmother. Would spend hours playing with the kids. With each new milestone of my children, I stop to think of her and how much she’d enjoy the moment if she were here.

  3. August 18, 2015 at 5:50 am

    How well we have been loved often reveals itself in how well we are able to love in turn. What generosity comes through in your grief, what expansive love. I am glad for the gifts your mother gave you, and glad for the gifts you are giving to all of us by letting us see her in your words today.

    • August 18, 2015 at 9:44 am

      I read this shortly before stepping out this morning, and read it again now while walking on my morning break. I smiled when I read it earlier, but I’m sniffling reading it now. Thank you, for me and for her. Thank you.

  4. August 18, 2015 at 6:02 am

    My grandma had a thing for owls, and the house I grew up in was littered with them. (I was more or less raised by my grandparents, though my mom was there too, she worked a lot) Seeing owl stuff (especially kitschy owl stuff, reminds me of my childhood and my grandma and always brings a smile to my face!) In spite of the feeling of sadness in your post, thanks for the reminder of my wonderful grandma! 🙂

    • August 18, 2015 at 9:47 am

      The words “feeling of sadness” strike me this morning! Last night, “Shadow of the Day” played on the radio. Li’l D said it sounded like a sad song and that made him feel even sadder. “About missing your school when you leave this week?” “Yeah.” “Music can really impact those feelings.”

      I love how that little guy thinks. I love how he tells me about it, too. It reminds me to smile, thinking of all the wild and wonderful feelings he has yet to learn (more) about.

      I wonder if he’ll think of me when he looks at owls someday. I sure hope so. 🙂

  5. NotAPunkRocker
    August 18, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Funny how it all connects, right at once, sometimes ❤

    • August 18, 2015 at 9:48 am

      I wonder if sometimes the same things might have just happened unnoticed in amother world. Whatever the cause or inspiration, I’ll savor the feelings of it all in this one. 🙂

  6. cardamone5
    August 18, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Dear Deb:

    This post touched me as the 20 year anniversary of my mom’s death approaches, and I just lost my grandma (her mom) Long story, but my mom was the eldest of 9 kids, so with her gone, her sibs put me in her place for inheritance, which wad its own source of gratitude and grief. As a result, I received several amazing items including a portrait of my three year old mother painted by my great aunt. Awesome. Also, I am in the midst of applying for jobs, a process which awakens old fear and nsecurities since I haven’t worked in 13 years. As I get anxuous about not receiving call backs, I have to remind myself that I am a good worker worthy of hiring, and, in the process, attempt to let go of all the perceived failures up to this point in my life. Looking back, my biggest regret is being too hard on myself and allowing those feelings to get in the way of enjoying what I have. I feel mom and grandma with me, as you do, as I try to relieve this mental burden.

    Love, E

    • August 19, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      Oh, man. Much as my mom was into forgiveness, she never seemed able to offer it to herself. She regretted so much … and spent much time with that regret, almost as if pennance that would make up for the acts themselves.

      From this, I learned that even amazing people have very serious misperceptions blinding them to all the good they work compared to errant or actions. I have learned much is lost and little gained by regret, and that it’s worth it to keep working toward unburdening yourself from regret. Time spent regretting is time not spent making today or tomorrow better.

      You deserve the kindness you offer others!

      I would highly, highly recommend Human Workplace lady Liz Ryan (LinkedIn & Forbes) to you. She offers great career insight and mojo boosts, and I read her almost every day to keep my perspective about life, work and goals.

      Much love.

  7. August 18, 2015 at 7:40 am

    I really liked your last post, because it is so much how I feel. But this one I ❤ because I truly believe that those who love us are always around us in one form or another. My niece would be turning 21 next year, and while watching Glee this weekend I just couldn't stop the tears, thinking about all of the things she will never get to do.

    • August 19, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      I go through periods where I doubt their nearness, but these are becoming fewer and fewer.

      I’m crying reading about your niece. I am so sorry, and sending bunches of love.

  8. August 18, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Wow. Who’d have thought a little post about a lot of owls would lead to this? Sometimes blogging is awesome.

    • August 19, 2015 at 12:25 pm


      I’m very, very glad for how that all flowed! I’m going to keep being glad through this week, with each little reminder of rapid change ahead.

  9. August 18, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve been watching the owls pop up, and have read the comments around them, and think that this post was a beautiful summary and a great way to honor the wisdom in your mom and in you!

    • August 19, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      I bought some bottled water yesterday after giving up on the metallic office water. Glancing over at the bottle, I found a little owl drawn on the inner label. I couldn’t help smiling.

  10. August 21, 2015 at 4:01 am

    The arc of history, love and remembrance is always fascinating. I am so happy for you there is a touchstone reminder that lifts you up. I am surprised you never asked your Mom, but then maybe not.

    Wisdom, wonderful gift and one you show every single time you write.

  11. August 23, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    I have about 90 seconds to type, so I won’t possibly find the right words, but … I’m sniffling something fierce.

    Everything you said (and with tiny owl studs in my ears, too). Times a million.

  1. August 23, 2015 at 12:25 pm
  2. October 26, 2015 at 10:12 pm

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