Epiphany about Mothers, a Father, Loss and Compassion

simplereminders.com-elise-book-2The first submitted epiphany I ever received on the relaunched website, came from my beautiful and talented friend, Maureen Muldoon. She and I were in a theater company in Los Angeles together about 9 years ago, but had completely lost touch over the years when I moved to Austin.

When I moved back to Los Angeles a couple of years ago, I couldn’t bear the thought of the waste of throwing out all the perfectly good boxes I had, so I put an ad on Craigslist in the “Free Stuff” category for people to come get the boxes if they wanted them. I had a huge response – there was no way I could even open all of the emails I got. One that I randomly picked to open was signed “Maureen Muldoon.” I responded to the email saying, “Surely this isn’t Maureen Muldoon of the Black Box Theatre company from days of yore.”

And this is why I am in love with the magical Craigslist and had to interview its founder, Craig Newmark–it’s like some kind of weird portal for serendipity to happen.

The email was indeed from the Maureen Muldoon I had known back in my theatre days of yore. Out of all the hundreds of people who wrote me randomly on Craigslist about boxes for a move and of the few I opened, she happened to be the one of them. The Craigslist posting resulted not only in the recycling of a ton of boxes, but in the unexpected reunion of old friends!

So Maureen was one of the first friends I reconnected with in Los Angeles (but alas, she used my boxes to move to the Chicago area soon thereafter) ; she was the first person to write in an epiphany when this site launched; and she is the first person to have her website-submitted epiphany posted in Epiphany Stories.

Serendipity also comes into play in that this posting was scheduled around Mothers Day, and her poignant epiphany account happens to be about mothers … and a father.

 

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“Approach life with tenderness and compassion toward yourself and others.  No matter how big, or old, or wise people may appear to be, there is a part of us that is still a child, trying to do our best.”

Growing up I imagined that my parents’ life started with my birth. I never thought about my parents as children or as having a childhood or a previous life.

When my mother died, I was thirteen.

My father sat beside me at her deathbed and told me a story about how he had lost his mother when he was around my age. This was how he told me that my mother was dying.

Now, I had heard the news (that my mother was dying) from my aunts and my teacher and our priest, but I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. It was like trying to believe that I could live without air. But when my father sat beside me and told me about his mother, there was a strange and powerful shift. I guess you could call it an epiphany. I looked at him in a whole new way.

Suddenly he was a kid, with a mother. Suddenly he was a kid who had survived what I was wrestling with. Suddenly there was a glimmer of hope for me. Even in my pain, even in my darkest hour, I saw that he had traveled through this hideous part of hell and he had indeed survived. So now I knew that I would survive too. Although it appeared that this nightmare would swallow me whole, there was a new possibility that maybe it wouldn’t. That maybe I could learn to live without air. After all, my father had.

After he shared his story with me, he laid his head in his hands and started to weep like a baby. That is when I had my real epiphany. That was when I realized that no matter how big, or old, or wise people may appear to be, we are all mostly just little kids, trying to do our best. It has led me to approach life with greater tenderness and compassion.

– Maureen Muldoon, La Grange, IL

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