In April, 2014, Joanne Keeshig wrote to me via email and shared her reflections on the life experience that showed up for her earlier in the year. Her letter is a very poignant example of how our life experiences present “for a reason”. She has given me permission to share her experience and reflections with all of you.
I am writing to you from the hospital where I have been for the past week looking after my mom. She is palliative. I’ve been up here at Cape since early in January.
I ended 2013 and started 2014 saying this is my year. The year to do what I need and want for me; why then am I here looking after someone else? Not that I would choose to be anywhere else at this time. However, reflecting back to the transition from 2013 to 2014 and remembering what I said, causes me to say ‘hey wait a sec’. And as I remembered this and reflected, I recognized that there is unfinished business or rather culturally conditioned values, beliefs and attitudes that I need to become aware of within me as a result of my experiences with my family system. I realized that I needed to be aware where my body resonates and then breathe and acknowledge whatever it is so I can l move forward.
In the time that I’ve been here at Cape, I’ve answered a question that you asked me during the Level 2 program at Christian Island. You asked, “What do you enjoy? What brings you joy?” Well, I learned that I like to work with my hands. Since I’ve been here, I have been knitting and crocheting. I’ve even made bread. So in finally acknowledging this and being honest with myself, even tho, I like the money at the school board not to mention the pension and benefits, I am not completely happy there. I am still doing what I think other people would like me to do and not what I want to do.
What I want to do is to work for myself using my hands and to do what I enjoy and what I am good at. It seems I have always felt I had to choose one or the other but never both. And because I am not formally trained or have the work experience in the area of healing and wellness, I continue to go to the default program and work at teaching or safe jobs. So I realize I have been lacking self-confidence in a gift I know I have and in doing things I am good at and do well.
About a week ago, I was in Toronto to see to my apartment. While there and taking a shower, I heard a thought that said, "Just put what you can do on a business card". So following that thought, I contacted the girl who wanted to market me when she was supply teaching at the Headstart. She’s sending me a package soon. And I did do a business card and started to flesh out a business plan. It took the whole day on Tuesday to make the cards complete with logo and list of services.
I was intending to stay longer in the city to take care of my apartment but things with mom got intense and she was taken to the hospital. So I rushed back to mom. I have been here since staying in her room and being there to reassure her. She has lots of anxiety and this drives her intensity. Anyway it seemed that once I acknowledged my gift of working with my hands everything felt so natural! To top it off, a junk email I received on the first morning of being at the hospital with my mom had in its subject line "Helena, You are a healer" (my legal first name is Helena). I took this as an affirmation. So now I am contemplating a move which will allow me to manifest my business. And there was something else, a nurse mentioned to me that she is 51 and that nursing is a new career for her.
Since I’ve been here at the hospital with my mom, keeping her company and helping in her care, I’ve been wondering where everyone else is, my sibs mostly. Now I figure the time has been just for me and mom. I have had some real special moments with mom. And as my friend said to me, "I am here holding the space for my mom.” I am enabling her to put her bundle together as she prepares for her transition back to the Spirit. But for sure, this situation is creating within me an awareness of issues within our family system and its dynamics. I know I am learning lots and will be a different person because of it. I know my younger sister is reflecting back to me, my need to claim my personal power and to speak my truth. My challenge is how to do it with a kind firmness while keeping everyone or whoever intact, without hurting them in the process.
What am I learning in this time with my mom as I watch her struggle with pain and discomfort? I am learning about love. Every time I look at her, I see a most beautiful woman and I realize she is a reflection of the love I want in my life. For the first real time, I feel love. And I know this experience is changing me and pushing me to my fullest potential.
Originally as I began this letter, it was to say, “Hey help me figure this out, cause I’m not sure.” What it’s turning into is me recognizing and acknowledging myself; an acceptance of me for me.
It’s 4 a.m. and mom is resting comfortably for the first time in a long time. Up until now, she has been in a lot of pain and anxiety. At 8:30 a.m. this morning we are, as a family, meeting with the doctor to discuss what the options are as far as medications are concerned. There is no wiggle room as she has very fragile kidney function and the kind of meds needed to keep her comfortable will compromise what function is left. And once her kidneys are gone, then we’ll have about a week before she leaves.
So, Miigwech Diane for giving me the tools I needed and for helping me to prepare for this time in my life. Jo
Early this morning on Sunday, June 1, 2014, Joanne’s mother passed away. Jo wrote this Facebook message and then texted me to let me know….
Thinking of my mom. I am so proud of her to have completed her life’s journey with such dignity and grace. I am so honoured to have been part of her journey, to have sat with her, cared for her, spending long nights in the hospital. That she would allow me to hold her in times of anxiety and fearfulness. There wasn’t anything that I wouldn’t do for this most extraordinary woman, this Ogitchidaa Kwe, this doorway through which generations of life have poured forth. Miigwech Mom, Baamaanpii kowaabmigo
Thanks Jo for sharing and for being who you are! Sending you love, light and huge hugs to wrap you in warmth and kindness! Diane