Story: The Mother, The Great Mother and The Stranger

Written by Jennifer McCormack – for Bronwyn, G, Zen, Lily and River

 xx with love xx

Once there was a home with a family in it. A mother with flowing hair, a father full of laughter and three children, each with wild hair and dark eyes. They belonged together. They always had and they always will. The mother in this home was born of the Great Mother and always knew she was loved.

Life wasn’t still in this home. It was ever growing and ever changing, just like everyone in it. It was a home that was filled with the busy life of a real family. They all loved to laugh and talk and play. They had their fights too but they belonged together (and always will). They knew that those moments would come and go. We all have our moments.

“We can only be ourselves”, the mother would say, “and we are all wonder-full even though we are different. We have to love who we are! We also have to love each other because life is full of surprises. We belong together – and always will!”

Their home was a welcoming one. It always felt open, and sometimes it wasn’t even locked. They felt safe there with one another. There always seemed to be people coming and going: friends, friends of friends … even strangers were welcomed at various times.

At times the mother would gather women together in the energy of this special home and they would talk. Children would play with one another, they’d tumble and explore and make a lot of noise. Women would meet and talk, share food and talk, nurse their babies and talk. “We can only be ourselves”, the mother would say to her friends, “We can’t be anyone else, and we are all wonderful although we are different!” They loved spending time together, celebrating themselves and their families and learning from each other. All was as it should be.

One day, while most of the family had gone out, and just the mother was at home, a stranger arrived and waited at the door. The mother did not know this stranger was there, for it stood there like a shadow, silent and still on the doorstep. It did not knock, and neither was it noticed until the mother opened the door to go out and there in front of her was a figure cloaked so that its face was hidden.

It wasn’t unusual for new people to turn up in this loving home from time to time. This time, though, the stranger came right on inside the home without an invitation and without a word and sat in the corner, dark and brooding. The mother was surprised and quite confused! Many people come and go in this loving home, but nobody goes past the door without a greeting.

“What is your name?” the mother asked, “Why are you here?” The stranger did not reply but continued to sit.

When the family came home and discovered the stranger, they didn’t quite know what to make of it either. The stranger was frightening. The mother and the family did try all kinds of things to engage the stranger, and to help the dark, cloaked figure to leave. They tried to make conversation, to find out more about the stranger and why it was there. They got angry at it, they pleaded with it, they tried pushing it, but it revealed nothing. It just remained there in the corner, silent and brooding and refused to leave. Friends came by, many friends, to try and coax the stranger from the home, but no one could help, although the mother was grateful that they tried.

Life went on in the home, but with the stranger there it wasn’t quite the same. The mother and father weren’t so quick to laugh, although they did try to, and the children didn’t really know what was going on. It was still a special home and it was still filled with people and all kinds of busy-ness, but with the stranger there it was difficult to be at ease. All the same, they tried to carry on because they belonged together (and always will).

Still the stranger sat. It even seemed to grow in the shadows of the corner it occupied. It was starting to make the mother feel really unwell. She wanted her home back. She wanted her family to be happy with each other like they were before. She wanted to stop worrying about the stranger, to stop feeling sick and to start feeling like herself again.

Finally, the mother had had enough, and decided to spend some time with the stranger alone. The family weren’t sure about that. They didn’t want to leave her alone with this cloaked, silent figure. “We belong together, and always will”, she reassured them. “I will be ok”.

She left the home, knowing the stranger would follow her. She went to a place in the mountains that made her feel happy, a place where she could try to talk to the Great Mother, to think about what to do with this stranger. When she ate, the stranger ate. When she walked the stranger walked. When she lay down, the stranger lay down with her. She sat with the stranger. She fasted and prayed and cleansed and still the stranger remained. She grew thin and pale and tired and the stranger appeared to grow stronger and its shadowy cloak grew darker. She sat in front of it, and looked at it. Still it said nothing. She sat in silence and realised that the stranger was never going to go. “You aren’t leaving me, are you?” she whispered.

The stranger moved for the first time. It shook its head, but still she could not see inside the cloak it wore. The gesture was enough. “Great Mother, WHY?” she asked. Still there was silence. Because there was no one else, she wrapped her arms around the stranger and sobbed. They embraced in the darkness, together.

“Ok,” she finally said, “Ok. So you aren’t leaving. If you stay, stay, but you have to do it my way. My home is a welcoming home, and those who are in it are all loved. So I will open my heart to you but you have to let me be me. We are both wonder-full, even if we are different. We’ll have to get on with each other until it is time for you to go.”

So she and the stranger came down from the mountain and she found her family. It felt so good to be together again, to be home and wrapped in each other’s love. They belonged together (and always will). The stranger was now a quiet part of the family, accepted, but not quite loved. The mother knew that she was the only one who really had to find love for the stranger, although from time to time she still got angry that it was there at all. She found some courage somewhere and decided to explore what life was going to be like with this shadowy stranger of hers.

She gathered her family and friends and asked them to accept the stranger as a part of her life for the moment, and to help her enjoy her life with her new companion. The stranger was dark and silent, but the mother didn’t have to be. They all planned some fun together and it was almost like before, perhaps sometimes even better, although the stranger still made the mother grow tried. They laughed and played like children, even held a wonderful party with all the mother’s friends. The mother felt so full of love and life that even she could forget about her shadowy companion for a little while. It was wonderful just to be herself again.

Soon though, she grew tired. Living a joyful and playful life was challenging with the stranger, who just wasn’t by nature either joyful or playful. The mother began to feel exhausted and unwell once more. It was time to rest and she took to her bed. She slept a lot, and she didn’t always feel well. Her children and her special friends spent time as much time with her as they could, and the father rarely left her. He sat on one side of her bed and held her hand, and the stranger sat on the other side, both her constant companions. She had everyone she needed, and she was comforted by that.

The mother slipped in and out of the dream world. While she slept she spoke with the stranger. “You became a part of my life”, she said, “and I tried my best to accept you so that I could feel like me again. I’ve learned to be with you, so will you now show me what you look like?” she asked.

The stranger finally nodded, and took off the shadowy cloak. The mother looked back at the face revealed before her and gazed at it for a long time. It was a kind, gentle face, not the ugly, fear-full face that she had imagined. It was a face she had seen before, from when she was born, and again when she went to the mountains. It was the face of the Great Mother.

“We can only be ourselves,” the Great Mother said, “We are all wonder-full, even though we are different. Our strange shadow sides are a part of us too, and sometimes when we can finally embrace them they can take us to beautiful places. You’ve been so brave. You’ve been so sick, and still so authentic. You never lost trust in me, even though you never loved the other side of me. Come with me, beautiful lady, it’s time to go.”

The mother came out of her dreaming and opened her eyes. She turned to look with love at the man who had shared life. She opened her heart to her children and wished them all her love, all of it. She was too tired to talk with words, but her heart did the talking for her.

“I love you but I’m going to go now.” whispered the words of her heart. “I’m going to be OK, and so will you. We belong together. We always will.”

She took hold of the Great Mother’s hand.


Once there was a home with a family in it. A mother with flowing hair, a father full of laughter and three children, each with wild hair and dark eyes. They belonged together. They always had and they always will. The mother in this home was born of the Great Mother and always knew she was loved.

** If you share this story please always acknowledge the source of the story and that this story was written for an amazing woman called Bronwyn who journeyed with cancer on her own terms. ** If you are interested in writing your own story to express and understand your experience, I am available for personal consultations to help you write it. For more information, have a look at Therapeutic Storytelling with Jennifer McCormack, at Create & Relate.**