PART 1: Forgiving the Unforgivable [And Happy Birthday, Mamma]

Happy Birthday, Mama!  You would have been 93 today [I’m the one in diapers!]

I started to write about the amazing thing that happened in the weeks, months, even years before my mom died. She seemed to stop worrying, or wishing things would be different, and nothing seemed to upset her.  She was laughter, silence, calmness, sweetness… PURE LOVE.  So present with each moment, that these qualities emerged more powerfully than ever as stories of past, future, and what ‘should be’ had little or no hold on her. I see the same happening to anyone who starts to wake up to their thinking; they stop being terrorized by it.

In the end, she was unconcerned with public opinion, seemed to have complete faith in us and in dad and in what would happen when she was gone, more fully inhabiting her body just as it was than ever before, simply there receiving and giving in each moment with no fear.  She seemed like the most pure, childlike LOVE to me, untainted by the fearful polarized thinking that separates us humans from each other and life as it is, just before she died a year and a half ago.

When I got online to write this, two things happened that are consistent with my observation that my writing is not meant to take place in the vacuum of my own mind, but is invited or called or shaped by the questions and needs and issues that others bring.  Before a class or a post or a webinar or during a session, the part of me that needed to hear what another had to say intersects–just in time–with the part of them that needed to hear what I have to say in response.

This kind of co-creation happened today via the FB post that popped up just when I was thinking about the ‘happy death’ of  my mom.

One of my students expressed her connection to and gratitude for us all, having just attended the funeral of a promising, bright, seemingly happy, successful, healthy, young man of 41 who had committed suicide, leaving a wife and 2-year-old daughter.  I watched myself as that collaborative wisdom poured out onto my iphone about how to help re-frame this ‘sad death’ as not an act of violence and abandonment, but–from his perspective–an act of love for himself and others–words that really resonated with their intended.

Just after I posted that little piece in my Letters to Myself ‘mosaic’ blog, another FB post popped up–the first I had heard about the shootings in Orlando. It seemed I could not talk about my mom’s death, or about making sense of the suicide, without also addressing how we can forgive the unforgivable, respond to, and USE each event–even something as horrific as the Orlando massacre–to turn our world around by seeing where it is only our thinking that creates the pain. That was a harder one…. I sat with it all day and will revisit it before sending, in part because the polarized and politicized post I had read about the event made me fear alienating others with a message of forgiveness and using our reaction to the perpetrator to bring the focus back to what hatred exists in ourselves when confronted with such an act.

Bottom line, we are all innocent; the worst we are doing is acting on the survival-driven thinking we came to believe along the way. These thoughts, that represent the most vulnerable parts of ourselves and our ‘enemies,’ are SO convinced of our rightness and are SO tenacious because they are deeply programmed to believe they are “saving” us or others.  The same thoughts that drive parents to act in ways that create such immature conclusions continue into adulthood–if we don’t question them–and are passed along to their children, who add their own adaptations, and the cycle continues.

So the best we can give the world’s children is to question and expose our own faulty thinking when we experience pain or polarized separation from life, others, and even ourselves.  When we see through the story that there is EVER an outside enemy, what we get (and give) is love.

Thank you, Mamma, for teaching me–via both your reactions to your own painful thoughts and via your recovery from them–that this existence is all just love and lessons…. love and learning…. love and undoing the thinking… the only thing that ever separated us from heaven on earth.



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Shawn Mahshie

Self-Solidarity Author/Mentor

The Reliable Symmetry of Happiness:
Whatever Upsets You Holds the Key

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