In May, I was informed by my health insurance company that the plan I have had with them for twenty years will be cancelled in 2018, and I will have to find a new health insurance policy. With a pre-existing condition, and an expensive prescription, this is, at best, disconcerting.
In June, I hit my housemate’s car as I was backing out of our garage. I wasn’t moving that fast, but there was still some damage. It was the first time I was at-fault in an accident and I felt a little bit ashamed as I filed a claim with my auto insurance.
At the end of August, I was turning left out of a gas station onto a busy road, someone entering the middle lane didn’t see me, and they T-boned my door. My fault again. My car was in the shop for two weeks, and I’ve been getting extra chiropractic and acupuncture for my neck and low back pain.
Towards the end of September, I was getting ready to pull out of a parking spot, when a woman in a minivan pulled in closely next to me, and her young son flung open their side door and almost jumped out into my car. After receiving her okay to proceed, I did, except my quarter panel scraped her side door, causing a small amount of damage to her door but none to mine. Our insurance companies are currently duking out who will pay for what, but it’s probable the insurance I’ve had for thirty years will be affected, perhaps even cancelled.
Coming on the heels of a summer full of transformation and amazing experiences – a lovely new boyfriend, a trip to Europe, and the challenge of hours of enriching practice SPRe sessions with actual clients – these events felt overwhelming and negative. It was hard not to feel punished, or ashamed, or wearily certain that good things don’t last and it’s always something.
I know from my spiritual training and years of therapy, however, that things happening in this way can often mean that the Universe, or your unconscious, might be trying to send you a message – or a lesson. As my mentor, Jill, and I sat at lunch, I told her my woes and we discussed what might be going on. As an afterthought, I added one more example of how weird my life had been in the last few months.
Just the week before, I had moved V, at eighteen, into her college dorm room; a week later she turned nineteen. My mom and dad moved me onto the same university campus as V, in the autumn of 1989. At the time, I was eighteen and my mom was forty-six. By spring of 1990, I had turned nineteen, and she was forty-seven. By that summer, she would be gone. I reminded Jill that I am currently forty-six, and I’ll be forty-seven next year.
After a moment’s thought, Jill laughed and said I’d answered my own question. Jill’s theory was that, as I approached the same age my mother was when she died, my life contracts, including my insurance, might be coming up for renegotiation, so to speak. This actually made a lot of sense to me. I have known for a long time that my mom’s death age could be tough. According to Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters, achieving the age your mother died can be a difficult and pivotal point in life.
“This is the secret that motherless daughters share: we fear we will die young. And not at some unspecified point in the future – No, we fear it will happen when we reach the ages our mothers were when they died.”
“More than three-quarters of the motherless daughters interviewed said they’re afraid they’ll repeat their mothers’ fates, even when the cause of death has no proven relationship to heredity or genes.”
As I’ve progressed into my forties, I’ve made it a point to be aware of the fact that I was approaching my mom’s death age, however, it’s been in a vague kind of way. I haven’t really been afraid of developing cancer like my mom did, but I thought it was likely I might get a virus, or have my back go out or something. Now I’m really starting to think about what it will be like to be forty-seven.
“A girl who at a young age loses a mother, also loses the ability to perceive herself growing into old age. If a mother dies or leaves at forty-six, she can represent a physical model for her daughter only until that age.”
Your mother is your model for who you’ll be as a woman. If your mother has died young, you have no real template for what life might be like after the age at which she died. What life looks like for a woman over forty-six has always seemed kind of misty to me. I’m kind of flying blind about menopause, aging, and everything else. Plus, I wasn’t really expecting I would be bumping up against all of this – quite literally in the case of my car.
Jill suggested I might want to express to the Universe my awareness of my mother’s exit of this life, at this age, and my own desire to continue in it, by making it clear to the Universe how much I wanted to remain on this earth: in other words, I might want to renew my lease. I went right home that day, set my intention with a prayer, wrote out a new lease agreement with the Divine about my life, and burned it. And felt better. And stopped having car accidents.
I assume this time is different for every woman who’s lost a mother early, I don’t know that you could even guess what might happen. My heart broke at nineteen when she died – I was just a girl – however, to almost be as old as she was when she died breaks my heart all over again: I can’t even imagine preparing to die at this age.
So I don’t know what she was thinking as she approached forty-seven, but given the events of the last few months, I wanted the Universe to know what I was thinking; I get it already! Here is my lease agreement: Thank you. Life is good. I’d like to stay. As long as possible.