Updated: May 6, 2020
Seeking a pain-free life? Keep reading... It was Mother's Day and the sun was setting in the city. I was heading back to my car when I noticed a stranger following me. Hesitant about the situation I kept walking, but he was persistent. I walked a couple more feet and he wasn’t doing any harm so I thought I’d do something unthinkable and start a conversation with him. I could see he was an older, rugged man with life still gleaming in his bright blue eyes. He had a story to tell me and the universe made it clear I needed to ask him what it was. The words we exchanged will never be forgotten. Here was our conversation:
Blue eyes: Happy Mothers Day! You may not be a mother now but someday you will be! Me: Thank you! If I ever do become a mother and no one is there to tell me, I know at least one person did a long time ago. Blue eyes: My mother was wonderful, she took great care of me. Me: You are lucky to have a mother who loved you like that. Blue eyes: oh yes, she loved me very much. We did so many things together! Me: What was your happiest memory with her? Blue eyes: He thinks Me: I wait Blue eyes: My happiest memory with my mother was when she was 82 years old, laying in my arms, staring up at me. He continues... ....She was breathing her last breaths and I told her “don’t worry mom, I am holding you. Remember how you held me? How you cared for me when I was little? You even wiped my butt - Now it’s my turn. Don’t be embarrassed mom, I’ll take care of you. I love you.” She couldn't speak any, but I heard everything she said in her eyes. At that very moment, I wanted to give her everything she had given me, to make her feel as loved as she made me feel. I called my sisters and told them mom was dying. I called and called and they told me they didn’t want to see her. I begged them to come “Mom is dying come see her. She needs you!” Still, they refused to come. So I sat there alone with my mom; my arms wrapped around her fragile body, she’s slowly closing her eyes, then she breathes one last time, and she was gone. I smiled because she died in my arms. Not a hospital bed. In my arms. I know she died peacefully and I was able to give that to her. She didn’t die alone, she died with me. That is my happiest memory with her. Soon after his story, he wished me well and took off. How could I walk away from those words and go on with my evening? I didn’t. I thought about it far after the moment was gone. I was expecting him to tell me something good about his childhood. Yet, he chose something so painful to be his happiest memory? I couldn’t believe that.
That night I thought of the most painful things in my life and noticed at one point, they brought me so much joy. From losing a job that gave me security, a breakup that showed me how I deserve to be loved, a best friend who moved across the country but showed me a beautiful friendship, and making changes that made me miss my comfort zone and old habits. The hard truth: You can’t live a life full of pleasure and expect to make it out pain-free. Blue eyes is a perfect example of this. He lived a life full life of bliss with his mother and later witnessed her death right before him. How can this be his happiest memory with her? Blue eyes sees is the bigger picture. He feels the pain of his mother's death but immediately begins to remember the joy he felt spending time with his mom. He was able to give that all back to her while she died in his arms. When bad things happen to us the anticipation of our own doom falls upon us. Our dreams get crushed, we get disappointed, unexpected things happen, and like that cliche goes “all good things must come to an end” and we find ourselves preparing for our own end. Blue eyes showed me that when there is a pain to be felt we must force ourselves to simultaneously find joy in the situation too. Maybe it isn’t all good things must come to an end. I think all bad things must come to an end, and we can choose to continue seeing the good. Easier said than done but Blue Eyes makes it seem like it's possible to do. I wish Blue Eyes the best and hope he’s doing alright wherever he may be.
And I hope during these hard times, I too, can find my own silver lining too.