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Finding the Silver Lining

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I’ve been thinking about my mother a lot lately. She was a wonderfully quirky, beautiful, and compassionate woman with a great sense of humor. When she graced me with one of her smiles, there was nothing better or more loving in my world. She was supportive of her children and loved us like we were the air that she breathed.

I can remember how she would rub my forehead and smooth my hair when I was heartbroken and crying, both as a child and as an adult. I was indeed blessed to have had her as my mother. Her last word on the subject of my latest heartbreak was always, “And remember honey, to every cloud there is a silver lining.” That drove me crazy! Trust me when I say, that was the last thing I wanted to hear. But …

I have to admit that time has proven that statement to be true … over and over again. Just like most people, I have experienced a great deal of joy and pain in my life. That’s the norm here on planet Earth, though I didn’t always realize that my sorrows were no more or less than that of at least a billion other people (and I suspect that number is much greater).

I’ve gained a great deal from each heartbreak, each disappointment, each cloud that has passed through my life. From a painful divorce, I found myself. I learned who I was other than being someone’s wife, I learned to be independent, and I learned firsthand some of the struggles my ex-husband had experienced in trying to provide for our family. So I gained understanding. I learned that I was capable of more than I realized, but lacked some of the skills I needed. So I grew from what I learned through that experience.

A couple of years later when my children went to live with their father, I felt as if all of my motherly instincts were under assault. But eventually I learned how to let go with love, as well as learning who I am other than being someone’s mother. I learned what it was to sacrifice what I wanted, for what was best for someone else. It was one of the hardest lessons of my life, but let me tell you … I also gained a great deal of insight from that painful experience. I grew from it, just as I had from all my other heartbreaks.

When I was in an accident that required four spinal surgeries over the course of several years, I learned once again to let others help me. I had become independent to the point that I refused help from my friends and family, but when the ability to work was gone and I was not eligible for unemployment because I was not “capable” of working … I changed my mind very quickly. I learned that no one is an island, and sometimes “it takes a village”.

When I married my husband of present, I inherited three grown “bonus” children and their children. When one of my “bonus” children was killed in a car accident a couple of years after later, it literally knocked the wind out of both me and my husband. I remember when the phone call came, my legs came out from under me and I fell to the floor, phone in hand, conscious but unable to stand. 

Against all odds, she had almost immediately become the daughter I had always wanted. I had been blessed with all boys and now here was this beautiful, intelligent, and funny young woman who had come into my life. I think we loved each other from the first time we talked on the telephone. It was meant to be and we both knew it. Her own mother had died, so I naturally fell into “Other Mother” mode. She was a young mother with two beautiful little boys. My heart was completely broken when she died, and I didn’t know what to do for my husband or her husband and children except to love them even more. And that’s what I did. Through loving my husband through the worst of this loss, a funny thing happened … I learned to heal myself as well.

The issue of “letting go” seems to be a recurring theme in my life … or maybe that’s a recurring theme in everyone’s life. Maybe that is one of our big lessons here on Earth.

I have learned that nothing is permanent, and to cherish those that I love in every “now.” I’ve learned that we all make our own choices in life, our own lessons to learn and our own truths to seek. I’ve learned not to put off telling someone how much I love them, because tomorrow may be too late. 

When my mother passed away a few years ago, I thought I was as prepared as a person could be for the loss of their mother. I have since come to believe that there is no such thing as being prepared to loose a beloved parent. We can realize that their quality of life is not acceptable; we can know that they are in great physical pain; we can even be relieved once their suffering is over. But for me, there was no such thing as being “prepared” for it.

My mother graced me with her beautiful smile one last time, the night before she died. I was alone with her at the hospital and she was in a great deal of pain as her organs were shutting down. I told her I was going to go get the doctor to give her something for the pain and as I was walking out the door of her hospital room, I turned to look at her and she gave me the most all encompassing, loving smile I had ever seen on her beautiful face. Of all the smiles she had given me throughout my life, I was overwhelmed by the love in her smile that night, it was bright and full of warmth … she was practically aglow with love. She was so weak I still don’t know where she found the energy to smile like that, other than from Spirit.

That smile was only for me, and it was the last time she would smile before she slipped into unconsciousness, and died the next day. 

I found myself in a dark place for a long time after my mother passed. Grief overwhelmed me. But I made it through that as well, and now when I think of my mother, I am reminded of that wonderful smile of hers and the words she always left me with. That great big smile the night before she died was her way of telling me “I love you so very much, and remember honey…to every cloud there is a silver lining.”

My mother died as gracefully as she lived, and I have learned a bit of that grace from her death as well as from her life. So I am thankful to have been her daughter, I’m thankful to have had the privilege of knowing her intimately and for being able to be one of her caretakers in the last few years of her life. I am just as grateful that I was able to be with her and witness true grace as she was passing.

So yes, mama was right. There really is a silver lining behind every cloud, we just have to be open to the rainbow that follows the storm. At the very least, when we are able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes because we have been through the same thing, our heartbreak becomes a blessing. We are able to reach out to someone else with true compassion and ease their pain by letting them know that they too, can survive their loss and go on to find the blessings that are left in it’s wake, if we are only open to it.

May you find the silver lining in each cloud that comes your way.


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