A Few Lessons Earlier in Life

On the other day I was remembering a few opportunities I had to work on non-attachment during my childhood. I should warn you this may not be an easy read like previous posts because this is not about sharing toys. Toys were items that thankfully my friends shared with me, since I did not have many.

My parents divorced in my first year of life. From a very early age, I had to spend every single weekend at my grandmother’s house, where my dad was supposed to meet me, yet he rarely came. So, during the week I lived with my mother and grandparents. I had to go to school and spend the rest of the day with my mom’s parents, while she worked really hard in her three jobs to be able to support us. I have always admired her and wanted to spend time with her, but on the weekends, when she finally was home, I was the one who had to go somewhere else. And so I dealt with this situation until I turned 13, when I decided I’d had enough. Spending those weekends away from my home taught me many survival skills, at least on the emotional side.

At the age of 9, my mother’s mother passed away abruptly. That was a big shock for me. Her name was Jaci, which means moon in tupi-guarani, a Brazilian indigenous language. She was a very nice grandmother and a big-hearted human being, always helping other people. Now, when I look at the moon, she – with her smile, soft way of talking and warm body – feels closer to me and I feel grateful for having her by my side during 9 years of my life.

When I was about 16 years old, my grandfather got sick at age 89 and being very close to him on an everyday basis (except weekends before my teen years), I was very connected to his suffering, too. It was very painful to see all the things he tried on his body to alleviate the pain. I wanted his pain to end, really badly. In a few months, things were even worse and he had to practically move to the hospital. I used to go see him every day and talk to him, even though, at this point he could not respond anymore as he stopped talking. I remember sitting next to him months before that, when he was still healthy, and reading him the newspaper or some political magazine he liked but had trouble reading because of his eyesight.

His suffering dragged for weeks, despite all the medication for pain. One day, the housecleaner, who had worked for my grandparents since my mother was in her late teenage years, talked to me about my grandpa. Also bothered by watching my grandpa suffering, she went to see a ‘curandero’, a healer. He told her my grandfather was indeed in much pain. However, he was having trouble leaving his body as his family was still so connected to him and suffering with him. The guy said someone had to talk to my grandfather to let him know he had all the right to leave Earth if this was the best thing for him at the moment. We would be fine and he did not need to feel responsible for us anymore. I immediately felt I had to be the one to somehow deliver the message and release my grandpa from that pain grasp. I was very connected to him throughout my whole life and I was determined to help stop his pain.

I went to the hospital for my regular visit and was also determined to get the message delivered. Talk about trying to not be attached… There I was with one of the persons I loved the most, yet in charge of telling him “he was free to go”, wherever that would take him. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew anything was better than what he was going through. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I talked to him for a long time – a calm and sincere speech that came through from a deep place in my heart. I told my grandpa he was loved by his family and friends, that he did a great job providing for his family while he could, helping my mom raise me and withstanding that pain ordeal up to this point. I also told him all that suffering could be stopped if he chose to. After holding his hands in silence for a few more minutes, I headed back home. Two hours later, my mom arrived home, sobbing. I didn’t even need to ask; I knew. I cried, too. Even though I was sad my grandpa would not be coming back home anymore, I felt a relief – his and ours – after enduring that long period struggling with pain; for him, feeling it directly; for us (immediate family), feeling it through empathy. At least his suffering had come to an end. We still had to deal with grieving for his departure, nothing compared to what he had gone through. To this day, I still love him, and I always will.

In no way did I mean to write these words as complaints. I simply wanted to share these memories that came up for me this week, and I feel thankful that today I can see them with other eyes from the time when they happened. They did shape me to be the person I am today. And that is what we all are: the result from a collection of past experiences moved by our passion to fulfill our dreams and desires; but ultimately the only thing we have is the now, so let’s make the best out of it!

I searched for a quote about this last paragraph and found one that fits well; the website did not mention who wrote it though: “One day at a time – this is enough. Do not grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.”


About thowling

Peace, love and light! Thereza Howling.
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13 Responses to A Few Lessons Earlier in Life

  1. martipants says:

    Thereza, this is a lovely post. I didn’t know you were a blogger too. I’ve done this for people too, reminding them they have the power to leave and the rest of us will be okay. It takes strength to do that and enormous love to let go. I admire you for having the heart to do that at such a young age.

    • thowling says:

      Hi “martipants”! Yes, I’m a blogger, too, and will come visit your blog soon.
      I did not know you had been through similar experiences; it does take tons of strength and love to go through it. I did not have much choice to not be that person, even at an early age, but it all adds up in the end, you know.
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving comments!
      Much love,

  2. Csilla says:

    Very beautifully written and deeply reflective. So personal. I admire your courage to share, Thereza. I also noticed how connection to your native roots helped you to release your grandfather. Those indigenous cultures have such deep understanding of the “circle of life”. It is so different in the western culture. But I’m glad that we can learn from each other, and I’m also glad that by the time my grandmother died, I had the same understanding, and I could let her go when it was too difficult for her to stay around. Thanks for sharing.

    • thowling says:

      Thank you, Csilla, for visiting and commenting.
      I agree that it is personal, and I admit I hesitated a bit before sharing it here, but I have come to a place of authenticity and just cannot find ways to share things that don’t ring true to me. And so I decided to share with an open heart.
      It is interesting you mention the indigenous idea of “circle of life”, which I have studied for about two years now, only to realize it has already been in my heart forever, or from an early age. Maybe now just viewed from a more mature perspective.
      Much love,

  3. Cintia Costa says:

    Que coisa linda e significatica, Thereza! Parabéns!

    • thowling says:

      Querida Cintia,
      Obrigada por visitor meu blog e ler o que postei. Recebi seu email com a traducao – puxa! Muito carinhoso seu ato de parar e traduzir. Vou ler, ajustar o que for preciso e criar um novo TAB no blog pra posts em Portugues. Muito obrigada, de curacao!
      Minha mae ja leu (deve ter usado traducao online) e me respondeu via email – eu chorei daqui, e ela de la. Lembramos bem essa epoca, que nao foi facil pra ninguem la em casa… Mas a vida continua! E a gente levanta, sacode a poeira e segue em frente, certo, guerreira?
      Beijo no coracao,

      • thowling says:

        Cintia, desculpa os erros na mensagem acima, mas o auto-correct desse computador deve estar ligado sem eu saber… *visitar, e nao visitor * coracao e nao curacao…

  4. Leslie Typrin says:


    What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it so honestly and openly. I could feel your emotion and I admire your courage to put yourself out there. You are an exceptional BEING.

    Love, Leslie


    • thowling says:

      Leslie, there is no other way I could have shared this story other than being open and honest about it. Thank you for visiting, sharing it and leaving a comment. Great support from another exceptional being means a lot to me!
      Much love,

  5. shonagh home says:

    Thereza, such a vulnerable sharing of an intimate, deep connection with a loved one. I was not at all surprised to read that you were the one to let your grandfather know he could leave the family. What an act of love. Your writing is beautiful and touching, as is your heart. Thank you so much for this piece.

    • thowling says:

      Thank you, Shonagh, for visiting the blog, leaving such a kind comment, and for your support. I am excited to watch you soaring to new heights!

  6. Jacki says:

    This is such a touching account of your experience. It is so honest and raw. It is so difficult to lose someone so close to you, yet you were so brave to step in to help him when he needed you. What a gift you gave him. That you let him go and had the ability to see his need to go above your need to have him stay was so selfless. Your experience shouldn’t and doesn’t surprise me. You continue to give so much of yourself to others on their journeys.

    Like your way of connecting to your grandmother when you see the moon, I am always brought to my mother when I see a stunning rich sunset. I understand the joy of reuniting in that moment.

    • thowling says:

      You brought tears to my eyes, Jacki! I also love to watch a sunset, just for the sake of it.
      Thanks for your kind words and honest sharing. Opening the heart can be scary, but it leads to greater joy overall.

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