Love Is…

Tonight, Mother Nature unleashed her fury as a massive hailstorm leaving 4 inches of hail on the ground. It’s nights like these that leave me in awe and wonder at how much we think we can control versus what we really can. We can’t control how we come in, we can’t control how we leave, and in between we can only navigate our own ship, no one else’s. If we try, it is than we find ourself in the most challenging of situations.

For some reason, my thoughts have weighed heavily towards my sister and her suicide. It seems she did control her leaving but, when you really think about it… did she really? She was born in critical condition and shouldn’t have survived. It was highly likely she suffered brain damage from my mother hemorrhaging during her birth. She started puberty at 2, diagnosed at 4, and also had Asperger’s under a different name at that time. Could she in anyway have had the mental capacity to be controlling how she left this world let alone any decisions she made in between?

I think of her because I feel her presence around me as I make soaps and run the business. Her and I were a lot alike. We both like sunflowers and sunflowers have always represented me as they face the sun and find joy in their very existence. As I was designing the labels for my hair products I gravitated towards a sunflower border, a small token of who I am as a wild woman, and realized it was a part of her too. I have always been conscious of my mortality ever since I was a child. I am not sure why, it just is. I always try to make sure the last thing my tribe hears from me is how I love them… just in case. Sometimes, it was to my own detriment because how do you set firm and clear boundaries of behaviours you will and will not accept when you worry more about making sure they know you love them, regardless of your differences. It took me a long time to find that place.

It is even more poignant now because the last words my sister heard from me were not, I love you. It was months before she committed suicide and she called looking for a fight. I refused to talk to her in that mood. I remember my dad calling that morning to tell me she was in the hospital and that was not unusual because she would often wind up on the mental health ward. That is not where she was this time and all I could do in that moment is focus on the fact she died alone and desperate. I didn’t get to say good-bye.

I think about how much she would have loved making soap. She just loved things like that. I remember talking to her on the phone once and she was tanning a hide. I remember going to see her and she was working on a vehicle and wearing of all things, a cream, coloured dress with sunflowers on it. I remember how much she always wanted to be a mom and how much she loved children. I remember her realization that she couldn’t take care of herself let alone her children and the day she decided someone else could do a better job and she gave them up. Maybe that was the day she lost hope. I think that has been one of my biggest lessons. Realizing not to impose my expectations of what things should be or look like. I do not know her struggles, her pain, her joys. I do not know what she thought and yet, I held her up to a standard she could not possibly meet. Which brought me full circle to how do you set boundaries and still love someone?

That is when grace and unconditional love set in. Not just for my tribe, for me. As a result of certain people who have recently come into my life, I learned to let go of all expectations and just let people be where they are at in their journey in that moment. I learned how to respond not, react. I learned to use my voice to tell others in a kind and loving way what I would and would not accept in my space which I hold sacred above all else. In my space, I choose peace. I learned choosing to live your authentic life, not your people-pleasing life, brings in people who match you. I learned that it was safe to use my voice and speak my truth. I learned to express myself in a way where I could speak my truth and not go on the attack or fight to be right. I learned that where there is love, your voice is heard. When your voice is heard, your boundaries are respected and I learned being my authentic self was safe. In this space of authenticity and truth, love took on a deeper and more profound meaning because it opened up a safe space for vulnerability. Only then, can someone know all of you.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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