A Conversation with the Universe on Surrender


I said to the universe, “I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to watch someone die, I don’t know how to help someone die, I don’t know how to let go. I don’t know how to do this.”

She whispered back, “no one does.”

I argued with her in frustration.

I asked, “Why isn’t there a manual, a guidebook or something on how to do this?

She wryly replied, “you wouldn’t read it.”

She’s right.

I toss aside Ikea booklets, refuse to read tech manuals, and barely can get through a youtube tutorial.

My preferred methodology is to turn it off and on, unplug it, or give it a shake.

I wonder which method the universe is currently employing.

I think perhaps she’s unplugged me and turned me upside down . Since, I just won’t listen.

I have written essays on how I am learning to let go, but I’m a C student at best.

I feel adrift. There is no plan. I don’t know how to be a person without a plan.

I always have a plan and in fact several plan B’s running in the background.

I’m married to a man raised in Africa. Our motto is “we will make a plan.”

Even when it appears I have no plan. There is a plan.

I find myself suddenly planless. I am all out of fixes, and potions and brews and healers and wisdom.

I thought I could heal my mother. I honestly believed if I believed enough for all of us I could heal her.

I know I talked about sitting quietly by and holding her hand and just being there and that, that would be enough.

I lied. It is not enough. Or, it is not enough for me.

I don’t quietly do anything. I will and I push and I fix and I make things happen.

Except now I can’t.

I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to have no plan.

As I soaked in the tub and quietly sobbed I felt a little lighter.

I hadn’t cried or felt real, authentic sorrow in 5 years. There was no time for that.

What I did was generate optimism and I stuffed my sorrow which turned to rage.

I realized that perhaps the plan was to feel.

To be a daughter who might lose her mother and feel what that felt like.

It felt awful but it also felt free because it was finally authentic.

The sorrow was bottomless, the surrender was terrifying.

My fingertips are still clenching and digging into a life raft of control.

My body is telling me I have to let go.

It is my turn to be a daughter who loves her mother, not a healer, a fixer a thinker, or a doer.

I am planless, unmoored, adrift, free.

I tell the universe I can’t bear the pain. She says, “you can.”

I rage at her but how?

And she tells me, “through love.”

My daughter tells me the best thing about art is that you can make your own choices.

I realize that is what I find so terrifying about art.

That my choices are on full display.

My choice at this moment is surrender. My path is love. My mission is to be a daughter who loves her mother.

I like nothing about this plan.

It does not involve action or fixing or doing. It just requires me to be. I find this agonizing.

I will need help. I’m not so good at being human.

I read that the half-life of grief is infinity. I sobbed when I read this statement.

I’ll never be the same.

The half-life of joy is also infinity.

Somewhere in the grief and the joy is a bittersweet memory that will be mine for infinity.

I ask the universe how do I go on?

She tells me to practice my art.

Write your pain and your love.

Celebrate your daughter’s joy that the best thing about art is choosing how to show up in the world.

Then show up.

Show up broken, grief-stricken, smiling, joyful.

Show up and be fully human.