I don't know if this is ironic or providence. Today was the date for the first Black Folder Project Workshop and it was cancelled because my mom died on Monday and today was her funeral. I don't know what that means. I just don't know yet, but I know that it has a meaning. Going through all of the emotions created by the thoughts and memories of my mother over the last week has helped me to see how much I have grown (or not) regarding inner wholeness and peace. In some aspects I have matured in others I realized I fell terribly short (and only my son really got to see those raw misplaced emotions).
Death is Real - Face it
In all of this I realize, again, that death is a part of life. You can't escape the death of loved ones or your own death. At first I was a little "skittish" about even writing the word death on this project for fear it would make some people afraid.
Actually I asked a preacher friend of mine to look at the website and tell me what she thought. I really wanted to know if she thought churches would welcome me in their buildings and congregations and she said "traditional" preachers might be "skittish" at the topic. That was interesting, and it will be interesting going forward just how many "traditional" preachers will embrace this head on - for real - not the scaring people about death (the frightening door as Marie Howe calls death in her poem), but really helping people to prepare for it.
Well, at this point, today, I feel like - so be it. Death it is. Straight-up. Bold-faced. This project is about Life and DEATH. I looked at death in the face today. In my mother's face and death wasn't scary. Looking at her face, it wasn't my mother's face, no more than it was my friend Bill's or my brother Paul Wesley's or my father's.
The Body is Just the Housing
Their faces and bodies were just carcasses/housings that they used to get around and do whatever they needed to do while in that body. I'm sort of thinking about it like when I worked in purchasing at Siemens and brought "housings" for fuel regulators. It "housed" everything inside that made the regulators work - all the springs, o-rings, diaphragms, etc. The housings only real function was to keep everything inside. Well that's what my mother's body was today...a housing...the inner workings were GONE. Her spirit was gone, just gone.
Re-Tooling The Project
So, right now I feel bold. I don't feel as tentative as I felt last week as the date of the workshop neared. Would anyone come to this type of workshop? Am I ready to do this? Should I really do this? Should I charge people for this? Maybe I should have started advertising earlier? What am I doing?...on and on...
I feel like why shouldn't I do this? There are thousands of folks walking around thinking they are going to live tomorrow and they aren't. Death is a destination for everyone. Why not leave something behind to help loved ones cope, plan, and go on? I just can't come up with an answer as to why I shouldn't keep going with this, other than people might think I'm crazy, but I don't really care.
I wish I had a letter from my mother in her handwriting to me. My brother who did a fabulous job not only eulogizing my mother but officiating her funeral (which he'd never done before) just amazed me completely. He said to me while we were in the car that he had gathered all the cards that we had sent to my mother over the years and did I want mine back. I told him, no, I didn't. As I think about it today, a letter FROM my mother would be precious to me right now (although in all honesty she probably wouldn't have written her Black Folder Project Letter to me).
I know I will be revamping The Black Folder Project in some way based on today.
Still Needs to Be An Old Fashioned Handwritten Letter
All I know right now is I still feel like I have to do this and I just can't see it being something online. I heard on NPR earlier this week about an online service that sends an email to you and then to your loved ones after they "think" you are dead. I KNOW that technology is not only the future, but in the here and now, but I don't want a TYPED letter from my mother right now...I want one in my mother's scratching, wavy handwriting.
I'm Publishing My Posts!
At first I had only "published" my first post and left the others in draft mode, but today I decided to publish all the ones I've written over the months since I've been working on this project. AGAIN, why not?
Farewell My Mother, Thank You For Letting Me Love You
I intend to continue to post as I re-tool this, re-think this and re-vamp this all in honor of my mother - Rosa Mae Richardson. Thanks Roe for your special brand of love and for letting me love you.