I’ve lived my whole life trying to figure out how to outmaneuver suffering; yes, how to fly away. But I have no wings. What if I just surrender to Thich Nhat Hanh’s idea and let my suffering open to its fullest feathers of love? Both as a mother and as a daughter whose mother is now getting so old. My daughter and I are talking about my mom, her grandmother.
“Grandma stays up till midnight coloring. It’s true her memory is not great. I mean, it’s old age. She’ll ask the same thing over and over. But she’s happy.”
My mother is still mobile, but no longer drives. Because of her worsening dementia, she requires 24/7 care.
“Look at Thich Nhat Hanh.”
“Yeah, I heard he died.” “I love Thich Nhat Hanh. He really helped me when you guys were little.”
I think of the passage of time, the impermanence of our lives. I was once a young mother, as my mother was once a young mother. What became of the women we were? So long ago, I’d insert one of his tapes in my boom box on my dresser and take a power nap atop the quilt with my toddler son near, pressing into me, before we had to wake and I’d pop Max in the stroller to rush up to the elementary school to get my daughter. The gentleness of Thich Nhat Hanh’s voice lowered the decibels of my angst.
—from the book Gather the Fragments: My Year of Finding God’s Love
by Maureen O’Brien