Our Quiet Hero – in Memory of Shelley Adler

A poem of my mother’s:

I would pass quickly into nothingness.
God does not need my dust
to fertilize His flowers
and I prefer not to feed His worms.
I would lose my ashes as a summer day
tossed with gentle breezes
to some warm valley where they might stay
harmlessly enough in trees or stream
noticed and as quickly then not seen.
only these black flowers can I leave,
but if you would, remember me:
glad for that briefest time that was my life
when I was daughter, mother, sister, wife.

I said goodbye to my mother’s physical form this week. She passed a few days ago, on my son’s 11th birthday, forever creating another unforgettable link to my children. I trust that once I’m beyond my current barely manageable level of pain and sadness, I will see this connection and honor it as a celebration of life’s unplanned magical events. I mean, really, what are the odds that Mama would pass on my child’s birthday?: the answer… long! On the cross country flight home from LA to NY I wondered what kind of tribute I could give my mother, an incredible woman who passed on countless traditions and ways of being to me. Our shared history has shaped the woman I am and it’s only fitting that as has her journey into another realm begins, I remember her earth plane accomplishments.

Let’s begin with this: Mama was a published poet and writer, a dreamer, a dedicated mother and partner, and one of the most authentic souls anyone who knew her had ever come across.

For those of you who don’t know, my Mama came out when I was 12, and though her life wasn’t always easy, and often it was difficult, Mama was a true pioneer, even though she never saw herself in that light. Mama didn’t want the spotlight, but somehow, at least for all of us in her circle, she was our star, our beacon, our rock. It was with quiet strength, dignity and an internal fortitude unmatched and unmitigated that Mama led her life.

And although she often felt there were those who would not understand who she was or how she chose to live her life, my answer is simple. There are those of us who do understand – and always have.

As someone very wise and brave once said:

“I may be a good person or bad, a hero or a coward. But I am who I say I am. I am whatever name I choose to give myself. I have the right to exist without fear of them. They may scorn me or hate me. They cannot legally hurt me.

If they deny I exist, they lie. I do not have to lie. I am a lesbian. I do exist.”

May my Mama, Shelley Adler’s memory eternally be for a blessing.

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