Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Prayer

This poem was written about and for my daughters.

A Mother's Prayer

When I look at you, almost all grown, I wonder where the time went.
And I wonder if I have prepared you well for life.
There are no words for the depth of love I feel for you. It's a love that defies description.
It began before your birth and it will endure until the end of time.
Within that fierce love, my intention was to teach you about kindness and strength and unconditional love by the example of how I lived my life.

More times than I care to remember I have fallen short of that intention.
Sometimes I spent more time conditioned by the past, or worried about the future, and neglected to actually be present in the moment with you.
If I had it to do over again, I'd spend less time worried about what others thought and more time looking into your eyes to see how you felt.
I'd listen more to my heart and less to the "experts".

For the times that my mistakes may have hurt you, disappointed you or let you down, I apologize and ask you to forgive my flaws. May you instead remember the truth of who we both are; people doing the best we can with the knowledge we have...people learning and growing, who are deserving of unconditional love, dignity and respect.

I embrace and honour your gifts and your innocence. I see your value and your wisdom. May the beauty, power and vision of your youth change me...change the world.

Thank you for the gift you are in my life; for being one of my greatest teachers. My wish for you is that you will always find light in the darkest of times, and that you will know, without a doubt, that you matter and that you are never alone. My wish for me is that I remain open and trusting in our relationship and never grow too old to learn.

May we have many more years of learning and growing together.

And so it is.

Denise Cunningham 2009

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Honouring My Adopted Mom

Dear Audrey,

Your 75th birthday would have been May 2, 2010 and Mother's day is coming up on the 8th. It feels fitting to post this remembrance of you today.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and I wonder if you know, that in opening your door and your heart to me, your family became my village. When my mother's drinking days were at their hiatus, being cocooned in the warmth of your home saved me from a path of self-destruction that I don't want to go down in my imagination, even now.
I marvel at your strength and your courage and your grace. You already had 2 daughters, 4 step-sons and a son when I arrived on your doorstep at the age of 14. You worked full-time outside the home, full-time inside the home, and somehow you always made time for me.
You taught me that there are no limits on the amount of love someone can give and you taught me that there is no upset that a cup of tea won't soothe. This is something that I've passed on to my daughters. Whenever they have a personal crisis or we have a family one, the first thing that happens is that the kettle goes on.
And now that you have ended your days on this plane I hope you know how much your life impacted mine. How your willingness to respond to a young girl in trouble showed me that I mattered. The greatest way I know to honour you and your life is to pay it forward. I provide a safe haven for the "homeless" children who arrive on my doorstep. Some of them stay for a short time and some of them for a longer time. I make sure that all of them know that they matter.
God bless you on this part of your journey. You have been a great teacher. You made me a better person and a better mother. I will be forever grateful for that. I love you and my spirit is with you. Please know that you will live in my heart always.
Love Denise

Saturday, April 3, 2010

R.I.P. Chris

Last Thursday, March 25, 2010, a 17 year old youth made a choice to end his own life. And in the aftermath of this heartbreaking tragedy I find myself asking his spirit to help me to understand. To help me make sense of something that makes no sense at all. I want to remain in my head analyzing the "why" because it hurts way too much to fully open my heart and accept that somehow, as part of the energetic village that surrounded this child, I feel like I missed the mark. I didn't know him personally, but I believe we are all connected, and I humbly continue to ask him to show me what my part is in helping to co-create a world where children know their inherent worth has nothing to do with their accomplishments.

Chris was a young man with such a bright light and such a passion for life. And yet in his world it appeared that there was no room for anything but the room for failure. There was no room to be anything less than perfect. And when he made a mistake that he thought he couldn't get out of, he believed his only choice was death. He sought a permanent solution to a temporary problem. With the end of his short time on this plane, a young man I have never met has provided me with an opportunity to wonder what I am teaching as I live my life. What kind of example am I demonstrating by the way that I choose to carry myself in this world?

Am I teaching that who people are, right this minute, is enough? That who I am right now is enough? That there is no such thing as perfect, nor is perfection a life-enhancing goal to strive for? Am I teaching that we are human beings...not human doings? What is my definition of success and how am I modeling that for the next generation? Is there such a thing as failure...or...if things don't turn out as planned, can I perceive that as a gift waiting to be opened...a learning opportunity on the journey of life? Am I teaching that honouring the journey is more important than reaching the destination?

Beautiful boy child, I don't yet have all of these answers. My heart is still breaking over your loss, but I am in deep gratitude to you for stirring these questions within me.

Rest in peace little one.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Will I Ever Make It?

A good friend of mine sent me an e-mail this week and in it she asked me, "Will I ever make it Denise?" I was more than a little surprised to see this question coming from her. She's a published writer whose books grace the shelves of prominent bookstores and public libraries. And yet, somehow in her mind, she believes she hasn't made it yet. I wonder how many of us ask ourselves the same question, if only in the privacy of our own minds. Will I ever make it?

While contemplating my friend's question I was at a loss trying to imagine what would need to happen in her life for her to believe that she'd made it. What circumstance(s) would need to transpire? Would there ever be an external signpost that would be enough? It appeared to me that in the search for the external forms of recognition she was missing out on celebrating the internal wonder of the amazing woman she is in this moment. This truth is not conditional on what she does. If she never wrote another word or had another book published she would still be a wonderful amazing woman.

In case you're answer to my friend was that she'd already made it. She was just waiting for her mind and her body to catch up with what her soul already knows.

Hmmm...did you hear that Denise?? You've already made're just waiting for your mind and your body to catch up with what your soul already knows. I wonder how my writing will shift when I approach it from that perspective?

With much love,