I received the following email from Sue Lawrence Putnam.
Hi Jen, My daughter Clara Coleman attended your workshop at Kripalu last February and inspired me to read your Facebook Page – where I saw the story by Suzanne Rolph-McFalls. Her story opened my heart to be brave & write the story I am sending you below. Thank you for your courage and ability to inspire others and pass this gift along.
Jennifer Pastiloff‘s Facebook page:
Has anything in your life been hard or painful that you can now see the gift in? Love to hear…
Never, ever, EVER, would I place greater importance on a thing, any THING, than I did a living being.
I would never cease offering shelter from storms.
I would always share warmth.
I would always hug longer.
~ from: Blue Interior. By Suzanne Rolph-McFalls
Many years ago, I did the same thing:
I placed “things” before my living three year old daughter Heidi. She accidentally drowned nearby when I had sent her from the house so I could make it perfectly clean, without any distraction, to impress my soon-to-be arriving mother-in-law.
I, who had grown up in the generation when “THINGS go better with Coke”, had rebelled furiously against the material world. And I, who devotedly followed La Leche Leagues’ advice to forget & not notice the “dust bunnies”, so I could nurse my babies with a calm peace of mind and loving heart.
I rebelled so outrageously against the 50’s moms, who could almost eat off their kitchen floors because they were so spotlessly clean.
Ironically, I too was the perfect straight A+ student aiming to please and be loved for my hard school work, even receiving the DeCordova Medal of Honor for the most accomplished student.
But after that fateful day in 1976, when the irrigation pool on our organic farm had filled too high from the torrent of rain the night before, for my 3 year old to touch her little toes on the bottom – my life went from “before tragedy to after tragedy” – a shift only those who have been there can understand.
In hindsight, even the morning before it all happened, everything felt strange, off, uneasy, as if to say something’s up.
Being in the realm of “life before tragedy” it was a normal day and I didn’t take notice.
But now being in the realm of “after tragedy”, I am aware of the smallest detail, looking for warning signs, red flags; opening my heart to all that enters into my consciousness.
I remember that morning when little Heidi kept saying “Mama, mama, mama…..hug, hug, hug, uppie, uppie, uppie”, and I ignored her every need to feel loved.
I remember her older sister hiding out in her secret hiding place. I remember my unfaithful husband making a gourmet blintze breakfast for his “right hand female apprentice” in our kitchen, and not caring for me or my new baby nor my kids.
I was struggling to forage for enough raspberries in the patch to fill empty tummies and hearts.
I remember so many visitors and apprentices pouring into our small humble, dirty house for the usual lunch I prepared every day and watching the farm stand fill up with customers and rushing out with my wee baby on my back to cut them some lettuces for their fancy dinners in Blue Hill or thereabouts.
But did I remember to stop and breathe and find my heart and remember to hug my dear little Heidi when she needed me the most after all the people had left and everyone went back to work, including me ?
…. and never again will I put pressure to “look good” on the outside and place things before human beings.
Never will I play the part of the perfect person making everything “just so right” for everyone else but myself and my loved ones. Never again would I allow someone or something else decide how I was to be, nor go against my deepest gut feelings and not communicate how I was feeling.
In the end, I learned to:
“Listen to the Little Voices of Your Soul” ~Old Gypsy Saying.
**note from Jen: I will be at Kripalu again February 20-22, 2015. Click here to book or to find out more info.