This week marked the 26th Mother’s Day since my mother, Beverly Jan Whitfield, went to be with our father in heaven. It’s hard to wrap my mind around all that transpired in my life since then – all the moments I wished she’d been able to experience in the flesh.
I’m so grateful for my fabulous wife, Kerrie. Not only is she the most wonderful spouse, she’s a rockstar of a mom. And, with that, I’m able to shift my focus from the sadness of my loss to creating a celebratory experience for her. She absolutely amazes me.
It took me a while for me to lean into the pain of missing my mother so dearly. Especially on Mother’s Day. In those early days after her death I tried to push that pain down deep.
If I hid it well enough, no one could see it.
If no one could see it, they’d think I was “tough”.
If folks thought I was tough, they’d see that “I got this”.
Spoiler Alert – this is not a winning formula. In the years after her death I’d find myself wandering aimlessly through life. That journey would lead to monumental crossroads. I had to choose wisely. While I definitely did not choose the wisest of paths at various points along the way, over time, the rooted lessons I learned from my mother began to bloom.
While she was not able to obtain her teaching degree before her passing she was, most definitely, my most impactful teacher. She wasn’t a “told you so” type of parent. She took time to talk to me and break things down. Never the authoritarian, but at the same time, taking zero shenanigans.
Although free time was scarce as she worked seemingly endless hours to put food on the table, every free moment she got she poured into me. Whether it was shooting hoops, throwing the football, watching Pistons or Bulls games, playing the piano, or just simply sitting out on that bench swing in the middle of our rocky, dirt front yard – there was never a question as to who her number one priority was – me. So many lessons. Too much to shove into one blog post. But I’d love to share a bit of what my mother left with me, with you.
Through it all, she was a constant force. These lessons continue to provide counsel to me 26 years later. A mother’s love is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Here’s a bit of the love and lessons she left with me.
Do not allow your pain and troubles to keep you in the pit of despair. Life is hard, at times. Few find life to be easy, even those who it may seem. Press on. Don’t lie on the floor waiting for the end. Rise and begin, again. Maintain an unwavering focus on the positive aspects of existence, even amid the crumbling edifice of life’s challenges. For beyond the veil of adversity lies the potential for profound growth and remarkable triumph.
Love unreservedly and passionately, even in the face of unrequited affection. Embrace love as an indomitable force, for it holds transformative power beyond measure. Welcome the vast spectrum of humanity, transcending the confines of societal stratification, racial divisions, and other arbitrary labels. Extend warmth and acceptance to all, allowing love and genuine engagement to shape and transform the world around you.
Cultivate a spirit of service, irrespective of your standing in this world. Recognize that the capacity to serve extends to all, transcending external circumstances. Seek to extend your benevolence not only to those seemingly burdened by adversity, but also to those who exude apparent prosperity. Every individual, at some point, yearns for connection. Place no prerequisite on who you serve. And do not expect reciprocity. But, more often than not, it will come back to you tenfold.
Do not be afraid to engage in relentless struggle! Fight ardently for your convictions, for the well-being of your family, and for the realization of a life befitting their worth. Understand that the path will not always be smooth, and victories will not be absolute, but remember that the war cannot be won unless the battle is waged. Fight with courage, integrity, and conviction!
The Miracle of You
Embrace your authentic self, recognizing that there exists no other being on this planet like you. Within the unique composition of your being lies the potential for extraordinary deeds. However, this potential can only be unleashed through a genuine acceptance of oneself. You are a miracle. Go and do miraculous things!
Family is Number 1
Devote yourself to diligent effort across all realms of existence, not solely confining your labor to the professional sphere. Often, we become consumed by the role our occupations play in our lives. We tirelessly pursue upward mobility. Remember, that role will be filled by someone else tomorrow if you leave today. That is not the case for your family. You fill a role that is irreplaceable. Ensure that you channel your energy and dedication into nurturing your family, fostering their growth and well-being more than anything. Family over everything!
Sing, dance, and express gratitude in all circumstances! Remember that life is ephemeral, a fleeting moment in the grand tapestry of existence. Therefore, consciously choose joy as your guiding companion through the symphony of life. That’s not to say that you should not feel pain. No, pain is a natural state of being in this life. But the key is to not get stuck there. Somewhere, someone wishes they were in your shoes, no matter how challenging you think you have it. Live in gratitude.
Be a Lighthouse
We are all interconnected, although some have yet to embrace this universal truth. Reflect upon those who have regarded us with bewildering gazes in various establishments, as if we were monstrous apparitions. Understand that their limited perception blinds them to the profound beauty that lies beyond the confines of race. Soon, more souls shall awaken to this realization. Do not succumb to ignorance; instead, acknowledge its innate existence within humanity and become a radiant beacon, illuminating the path for others. Let your light shine brightly! It just may be the beacon for someone who needs it.
The Great Beyond
Direct your gaze heavenward! Engage in prayer with earnestness and sincerity. Allow the divine to anchor your being, regardless of the tempestuous storms that assail you. Trust that divine guidance shall accompany each step of your journey, acknowledging that the path may not be easy, yet unequivocally worthwhile. You are living for something greater on the other side.
In the journey of life, wounds and conflicts are inevitable. However, it is essential for us to be able to forgive. You must learn to release the burden of resentment and grudges that weigh heavy on your heart. By forgiving others and yourself, you free your spirit from the shackles of negativity and create space for healing, growth, and inner peace. Remember, forgiveness is not about condoning or forgetting the hurtful actions, but about choosing compassion and empathy over bitterness and revenge. It is a profound act of strength and a pathway to harmony within oneself and with others. Embracing forgiveness allows you to let go of the past and embrace the beauty and potential of the present moment. Forgiveness frees.
A Mother’s Love
I miss my mother so very much, but I call on her spirit, strength, and the lessons she taught me on a daily basis. I pray that one or more of these points resonated with someone who needed to hear her wisdom.
A mother’s love is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, reaching out into a future she could only dream of.
Dreams come true, Momma.
I love you!