From the very beginning of this project, from the very first post, there are traces of my mom—her role in my life and the influence she maintains. Despite the fact that I have written proof that I think of her often, it is nothing compared to the living reality of her omnipresence on my mind and in my heart.
As a young child I was genuinely attached to my mother’s side. There was such a sense of security being in her presence, such comfort in the sound of her voice or laugh that I was on edge in her absence. While there were a number of reasons I could not make it through an entire school day during first grade, one of it was that I couldn’t bear that stretch of time away from her. In a show of complete maternal grace, my mother- without complaint or contention- came and picked me up every day so that I could have lunch with her (meaning she made the trip from home to school 8 times in a single day). It didn’t matter that I had amazing siblings…when they were left to babysit me I was often merely counting down the time until my mother came back home. When I look back on my childhood, she was my constant.
As I aged I grew out of the literal attachment I felt towards my mother, but an emotional one naturally took its place. I was able to see her for who she was as my mother but also as an individual, able to appreciate her for her countless graces. She was unbelievably patient, building my confidence as I came into my own. She was motivating in what I think is the best way a parent can be—always encouraging me to simply try my hardest at anything I did, and so long as I did assured me I was going to be successful. She taught me to persevere in the face of hardship, to know that moments in life would be difficult but could be conquered. She was soft spoken and introverted, and I often wonder if, like me, she was always taking life in and appreciating it quietly because it’s more powerful to do so. I like to think so.
She was physically beautiful, and maybe I am biased, but when I see photos of her especially in her youth I think she might have been the most physically beautiful woman I have or will ever know. But as with the best people her physical beauty was transcended by her inner beauty. She had such sensitivity and kindness, a simple and quiet strength. Nothing was more important to her than being a mother, and I am unbelievably blessed to have been born into that unconditional love. I’ve often wondered how my mother felt upon the realization that she’d be having me, her fifth child, years after her fourth. To this day I still remember meeting an acquaintance of hers who recalled the day my mother announced she was pregnant with me. “She was so unbelievably happy…when they say pregnant woman glow, your mother was glowing when she was pregnant with you.” It makes me happy to know she was so happy to have me. When we’d run into people together I was always labeled as “her baby”. There were certainly years of my life, mostly due to adolescent rebellion, when I hated being classified as the baby. But now, at 28, there’s something comforting knowing that part of my identity is as my mother’s baby.
When I think of my mother I have a tendency to see and remember her in vignettes. I can hear her laughing with my dad after dinner, when the two of them would sit back together after all the kids had cleared the kitchen. I see her standing, huddled in her winter coat, at the fence along the track, watching me run, quietly cheering me on. I can smell the sugary air as she baked my favorite Christmas cookies, a recipe to this day no one can reproduce. She lives in these frames in my mind.
My mom knew me wholly. She knew my strengths and weaknesses, my hopes, fears and insecurities. She knew me without need of discourse, because a child can only been known in this way by a parent. My life has been irrevocably marked by her absence when she passed when I was only 20 years old. . Grief is profound, and time doesn’t actually heal all wounds. It makes them more bearable, but they’re never healed.
That being said, I know my mother is not absent from my life. I truly feel connected to her still; my bones are her bones, and in them I feel her strength and support. That is what anchors me; always has, and always will.