Arrived back in Anchorage late Saturday night. Last night with my partner I watched a documentary about Ram Dass, “Fierce Grace,” which title refers to his 1997 stroke which has led him to experiences & realizations he otherwise could not have had. There was a very moving section of the documentary with the parents of a daughter who had been murdered, to whom Ram Dass had written a letter very much on the same idea: that the pain & anger & confusion & all of what came with their daughter’s death was her legacy to them: not something that their daughter would have chosen, but yet feelings through which they could gain to wisdom, compassion, love that was also their daughter’s legacy to them. As the mother read his letter aloud to camera, I recognized it: he didn’t offer them false comfort about their daughter’s death, he didn’t say any of the superficial blandishments that are so commonly & clumsily offered … it’s all much harder than that, & much more real. More profound.

My mother’s death was different than that young girl’s abrupt & meaningless murder. My mom’s death was not expected, but not entirely unexpected either, given her health problems. But it is the same thing. It was not something she chose or that any of us chose; but the pain I feel at her death, & about whatever wounds within her that I don’t believe ever found healing in life, are part of her legacy to me — that along with all the unmistakable good things she gave to me — & I will carry all of it in the best way I can, & hope always to honor her by it.

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