The Positive Force in Life

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, with Marika Warden living big.“Mom. You’ve been eating dinners standing over the kitchen sink for weeks now. Enough.”
From the far wall, the life-sized portrait of my daughter, who has been dead over three years, smirks at me. I turn away to rinse the tiny Stone Wave pot I store food, cook and eat from. But I still hear Marika’s words, “Mom, you’re becoming a hermit.”

“Yeah, but I’m on this weird diet that makes it impossible to eat out. All my friends are away this week anyway. And everyone else is coupled-off now so … Besides, I have a lot of work to do,” I say.
“Mom.” With this one word she can still shut me up, like gunshot.

A year after my daughter died, family and friends were sending mixed messages: get over it, it’s time to let go; take as much time as you need to heal; you will never get over this.
In support groups I watched bereaved parents tell their stories and grasp for tissues with quivering hands. Grief was not something to get over or through, the counselors told us. They said grief was a measure of love so I imagined love as a long ribbon with grief and joy at opposite ends. The evening a mother announced she still talked to her dead son, I felt I’d joined the right club. That’s when I knew my daughter would be with me, in some way or other, forever.

I decided to make it a good thing. Marika could be a positive force in my life; I’d hang onto her but allow her memory to pull me up and out into the world she loved. It meant I’d have to live bigger in order to live for us both.

That is how I came to be at Ithaca’s Istanbul Turkish Kitchen last week, seated at a table piled with beautiful food, with nine new and old friends, and eight bottles of wine.

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5 thoughts on “The Positive Force in Life

  1. SusanB

    Hi Robin, well done, “live bigger for both of you.” And isn’t grief all of what people say? Friends recently lost their son in a car accident. There is a difference in death after a long illness as I lost my boy but my friends are showing me I could “live bigger.” Thanks Robin.

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Beautiful, Robin. Yesterday I drove home from visiting a friend in Syracuse. I remembered driving down those roads with Vic and wished he would be home when I got here. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop wishing that. What can we do but live larger than before and make our lives work? Thanks for this piece, perfect to share on my FB page. I just did.

    1. Jody Pangburn

      Your piece on “A Positive Force in Life” is exactly what our children do for us. Through good times and struggling times we as parents always seem to find the ray of sunshine. I don’t know if anyone is familiar with this poem that I received at a compassionate friends meeting but it fits right in with your topic Robyn.

      As long as I can,
      I will look at this world for both of us,
      As long as I can.
      I will laugh with the birds,
      I will sing with the flowers,
      I will pray to the stars,
      For the both of us.
      As long as I can.
      I will remember how many things
      On this earth were your joy,
      And I will live as well
      As you would ant me to live
      As long as I can.

      1. robinbot Post author

        I’ve never seen this poem before but that is it exactly, Jody. Thank you so much. Do you know the poet’s name? I’d love to print this out, maybe even make a neat picture for it and post it. Welcome to my site and thank you so very much for responding. Cheers!

    2. robinbot Post author

      Hugs Elaine. I’m sending you hugs. For all the shares and caring and being there to look up to, I thank you and send you big hugs.


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