November 19, 2023
Here you are, Mom, so clearly you. I never saw this picture before today. After all this time, you continue to reveal yourself to me.
Without even knowing it, for so very long, I wanted you to be different. Your quiet depth, while holding me and protecting me, didn’t offer easy access to your heart.
I wanted you to be different. What did I think I wanted from you?
- That you be a fancier, warmer mom?
- That you be a mom who didn’t work in the grocery store with Dad, six days a week?
- That you be a mom who was there when I woke up?
- That you be a mom who was home, fluffing up pillows, waiting for me?
- That you be a mom who didn’t fall asleep in temple?
- That you be a mom who made dinner all afternoon, not just coming home at 5:30 from the store, rushing to make a 6:00 meal, for Dad to nap and go back to the store by 7:00?
I was so young then, and for so very long, I was so young.
There is good, good news here.
I am beyond grateful to say—I outlived all that.
I was given you long enough, to outlive all that.
I was given you long enough:
- To know your silent strength, without my self-centered reaction to it.
- To appreciate your depth, the privilege of sitting quietly with you.
- To see the beauty you created all around you without comparing myself to it, and coming up short.
- To appreciate your capacity to change—(“Daddy didn’t like it when I read,” you told me, as you blossomed into an avid, book-a-day reader, bosom buddies with the town librarian who brought you books to your door.)
Mom, you are Resilience.
Resilience is you.
You choose to live, after Dad, our-collective-reason-for-being-alive-kind-of-guy, died.
We weren’t sure.
You made a new home for yourself.
You found beauty.
You started the arts & crafts club in your community.
You organized hat-knitting for the Ronald McDonald House.
You lived on.
You are Resilience.
And today I know,
My resilience is yours.
Today I am with Us, your kids and your kids’ kids.
An accidentally and perfectly timed visit,
To celebrate your birthday together.
Mom, today I’m so grateful to wake up close to you today.
So grateful to not have to fight against your distance and make it be about me.
So grateful to allow you to be who you are without folding myself somehow into it.
So grateful that you lived long enough for me to know you.
So grateful that I continue to live and continue to live into knowing and loving you.
Happy 104 birthday, Mom.
To All of Us,
The possibilities of healing, no matter the dysfunction,
The trauma, the complexities of family.
The possibilities of healing always exist.
To All of Us,
May we continue to find peace with what was,
May we relax into what is.
May we lean toward what might be.
With gratitude and hope,