From The Inside

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NO FEAR: Reflections After a Year

I asked Henna to write a guest post on From the Inside a while ago, and she decided to write about losing her mother, one year along. Henna and I have known each other for quite a few years now, going from coworkers to very close friends, watching each other grow in different ways and take on different responsibilities. Henna's absolute love of life, people and freedom is so engaging and her warmth and passion for everything she takes on are formidable. Losing a parent is never easy, I can attest to that, and Henna and her family watched their mother fight that evil disease known as cancer for many, many years. This is Henna's letter to us all about love, loss and freedom, and I hope that we can all take a little of it and keep it close to our hearts. RIP Amarjit Kaur Chawala, I hope your new playground is larger and easier than the last one.

There are moments that I’ve missed and then there are moments that have ignited me. Moments where I was afraid and moments where I said fuck it. And many moments where I literally told everyone and anyone I love you. Why? Because honestly, when you lose a mother at 23 the value of life becomes very transparent. You learn that we are all not here forever.  And that we choose how we live and all our realities are the ones that we create and agree to be a part of.

Losing a mother alters the world around you immediately. Now your surroundings are a jungle. Now I must survive because mommy is not here to hold my hand. Yes, I have dad, but we know that it’s not the same. I can’t bitch about how big my boobs got last summer to daddy. I mean I could, but I’d prefer not to.

 In the days that I’ve missed holding Mom’s hand I have cried a lot. I’ve had many walks home from work where I couldn't stop crying. It’s easier to cry in the dark. No one can see you. Oh God, that was a dark statement. I swear I’m a really funny person. I just cry sometimes. I’m human and humans cry, you know? I think crying is critical to the human experience. Like honestly, how do I know I love you if I can’t cry about you? If I can’t cry about you then I probably fucking hate you. JK JK JK. SMILY EMOJI WITH TEETH. This is just a dark topic. I’ve got to somehow make this tragic shit funny.

Anyways, the funny thing about death is that it doesn't stop time even though it initially feels that way. Death is a pause for the person not here anymore. I say pause because I don’t think mom has gone. I just think the universe has taken her to another place to play. Mom always said that the purpose of life was to play and that this world is our playground.

Mom was a wise woman, but she was always plagued with restriction, worried thoughts, and fear of judgment. She wouldn't allow herself be free and watching her die at 55 with all these fears was heartbreaking. Mom was afraid. She was afraid of death. She was afraid of the unfamiliar. I’ve had many nights where I thought her fear killed her. When people are afraid there are a limited amount of windows where light can shine through and remind them that it’s not that serious and that everything will be ok. I knew there weren't that many windows around Mom and holding her hand felt like the best way to reassure her and bring her some light.

In the last year, I’ve spent many moments dissecting fear and what this word means because in the beginning I was afraid. Afraid of possibly losing my father. Afraid of confessing my pain. Afraid of my future. Afraid of letting people see me. Afraid of being a good older sister. Afraid to even cry.

I had to let go of my anxieties. I discovered that the heart of anxiety is fear. That the only way to turn it off was to say the words ‘I am not afraid’. This sentence turns on all the lightbulbs and suddenly, I know that I am in the right place in the right time in my life. My trust grows and my faith in the universe expands every time I say these words. I can say I’ve become a much calmer person now and this is because I am not afraid.

Hi, my name is Henna like the tattoo and I'm confessing my freedom. In this last year I’ve probably taken too many risks, done a lot of stupid things, kissed a lot of dumb men, but I regret none of it. I don't regret my journey to my personal freedom. So yeah bitches, now I'm fearless and fucking my playground real good. I would recommend that anyone reading this do the same. Just play real hard everyone. It’s worth it. And for all those you see caged in the fear come at them with love because that will be the beginning of their freedom. 

You can find Henna on Instagram and on Facebook, and also probably running around the streets of NYC somewhere, chasing an adventure.

Henna today, looking much more like her mother than she realises.