Love Them Like It Is Your Last Day Together!
At the end of the day, all that matters is love. All we have control over is how we share our love. And instead of counting our losses, at the end of the day, all that can never be taken away from us is our love.
In this month that celebrates all matters of the heart, I am happy to celebrate all the loved ones in my life—most especially my daughter Angie. She is lost to me at the moment, but I can still love her as totally and purely as when she came into the world forty years ago.
Parents struggle and wage a horrendous war against addiction as we watch our children caught in the web of it. We experience so many conflicting feelings, from hush-hush shame to rage against all the pushers of the world; in our powerlessness and frustration we sometimes lash out against our loved ones, telling them to “snap out of it!” Often, we retreat to the seemingly safe harbors of enabling and protecting our children from the dire consequences of their drug-induced behavior. I’ve been to all those places and back again. At first I was so joined at the hip to Angie that I didn’t know where I ended and she began.
About a decade ago, I did find out. And I learned that I needed to detach and let her follow her own path. Eighteen years in recovery rooms have given me some important tools and guidance. In educating myself about addiction, I learned that it is a brain disease. My daughter didn’t choose this life; she’s sick. When I accept this, I realize there is no room in my heart for a number of feelings that get in the way of my better self: judgment, resentment, fear, and guilt. Those four feelings are destroyers of the peace and serenity we all deserve. None of us is perfect, but I can say with certainty that I did my best with what I had. Most of the parents I know are good, well-intentioned people. And many of them are drowning in the sadness of losing a child to this cruel disease. I understand them. Some days I felt overwhelmed and buried myself in grief. If I lived in a bubble, or on the moon, I could isolate myself, cover myself in a cloak of sadness, and who would care?
But over time I have found myself empowered by something stronger than sorrow. There are other voices out there that are calling me. Many voices are my loved ones, but not all. When I forget to put out seeds, my Steller’s jay protests loudly. My deer family, bold and fearless, come right up to my deck. Sunrises slowly transform the Olympics into drizzling ice cream cones as I peer out of my window. Voiceless, maybe, but it’s a sight to behold.
Love is more powerful than any other emotion, and that is the only feeling I am left with, the only one I experience with Angie, at the end of the day. In this way I know, though I’m human and have been through the gamut of all the above emotions, that I have done my best to reach my daughter. And whether or not I’ve been successful, I can rest easy knowing that she knows, if nothing else, that she is loved.
At the end of the day.
Find out more about Marilea here:
Books: A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, written under a pseudonym, Maggie C. Romero; Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation by Marilea C. Rabasa
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My biggest powers are acceptance and unconditional love.