In a previous post, Maiden/Mother/Crone — The Mythic Stages of a Woman’s Life, I talked about living my mother stage first. I was the oldest girl in a large family, and by the time I was five, I could cook simple meals, clean house, do laundry, feed babies their bottles, and change diapers. By the time I was eighteen, I’d changed more diapers than most women do in a lifetime. Then, in my middle years, I reached the crone stage. Crones care for the dying and are spiritual midwives at the end of life, the link in the cycle of death and rebirth. A few years after I met the man with whom I would spend the middle third of my life, his health took a turn for the worse. I wasn’t much of a healer, but I was a stayer — I stayed with him until he died. I also helped out when my mother died. I’m now staying with my 95-year-old father, helping him to be as independent as he can be during his final years.
When this part of my life’s journey, this crone stage, has played itself out, the only stage left for me is maidenhood. According to Lisa Levart, author of Goddess on Earth, the maiden aspect of the Goddess is symbolic of new beginnings, youthful enthusiasm, independence, and a time when a girl is growing into the woman she is to become.
Who is this woman I will become? I already know she will be patient. I know she will be forward-looking, leaving all her “if only”s behind. I hope she will be bold and adventurous, able to embrace new beginnings, youthful enthusiasm, and independence. Most of all, I hope she will be spontaneous.
Life with someone who is chronically ill destroys your spontaneity. You have to be practical, and you have to plan, taking his limitations into consideration. You can try to take time for yourself, but so often the constraints of his illness rule your life.
Two or three years before my life mate/soul mate died, he told me he regretted that he killed my spontaneity. He loved that I had been so spontaneous, and it saddened him that I became captive of the regimens he needed to follow to keep himself as healthy as possible. This declaration surprised me because I had never considered myself particularly spontaneous. To be honest, before I met him, I’d always been a bit careful — not timid, but not carefree, either. Meeting him brought such a surge of energy into my life (he was radiant, back then, glowing with health and happiness) that I felt emboldened to try new things. I’d never seen the point of life (though I spent my youth searching for meaning), and I never really felt comfortable in the world. After I met him, I thought that if he were in the world, it must be a wondrous place. (This was before we ever got together, before either of us realized there was an “us.”) His radiance, faded and ragged though it may have been at the end, still lit my life, and now that he is dead, so is the light. And once again I’m searching for meaning.
To honor him and the life we shared (and to honor myself), I plan to be more spontaneous. (Did you smile at that wording? So did I. Old habits are hard to break.)
Spontaneous, bold, adventurous, enthusiastic, and independent. I can hardly wait to grow into this woman I intend to become. (But what will become of that woman I become? Will she be too old to make a difference? Ah, but those are questions for another day.)