When I saw her body in the coffin at the funeral, she was unnaturally still, like a statue.
She had not been still in life. She was a woman who walked two miles every day to the grocery store and refused rides, even when I got my driver’s license. A mother who raised six children and lost two sons, one to a plane crash and one to cancer. On the anniversaries of her sons’ deaths, I sat with her and listened to her loud wails as she clutched their black-and-white photos. The statue in the funeral home was not my ahma.
Three years passed. The next time I saw her, my belly was round with two girls who loved to kick at night. I cried one day, high on hormones, over the fact that ahma would never press her lips to my daughters’ cheeks and suck in their round baby cheeks like she could swallow their cuteness, which she did with her grandchildren no matter how old we were. That night, she appeared in a dream, taking a bath. I told her about my pregnancy and she smiled. The next morning, I felt like she knew I was becoming a mother.
This past winter, Brendan and I took our twins, by then 3, to a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve party. I sheepishly told the hostess I was departing early.
“I am doing the most L.A. thing ever: A ‘sound bath journey’ in Eagle Rock,” I said. I kissed my daughters and husband goodbye and hopped into a Lyft. Fifteen minutes later, I arrived at a yoga studio/cafe that sold tarot cards, superfood shakes and glass jars filled with manifestation tea. Years earlier, I would’ve mocked modern me, but now, at 40, I fully accepted the woo-woo lifestyle common here.
I joined 54 other people who had signed up for the sound journey, which promised to connect us with “ancestors and spiritual guides,” banish what was no longer serving us and “prepare for new seeds of manifestation and birth.” After working nonstop through the holidays to hit an impossible deadline, I desperately wanted to sow new seeds.
What I carried into the room: a book I was ghostwriting that was haunting me, my postpartum body, and a crippling thought: “You are not good enough.” My own professional wrestler, Self-Doubt Savage, took over as I lay on my pink yoga mat. Tibetan chakra bowls played. A drummer beat out a steady rhythm.
We were squished together so closely that a man’s feet were hovering over my head, but I slipped into a calm state. I felt an overwhelming presence of my ahma. An internal voice said, “Your grandmother lives inside of you.” The tears came hot and instant.