October 15, 2014 || Silver Linings
You came to me in the space between child and adult, much closer to the child side. I remember when you were a baby—Nana was with me, teaching me to be a mom—and, as newborns do, you began to cry. I heard you, but the child I was knew my mom was there, that she’d respond because that’s what mothers do. But then she hollered to me from the other room, calling Mommy! Mommy! as though she were you. Whether she knew it or not, she was passing the baton to me. I was 21, and two weeks shy of graduating college. And in that moment I became Mother.
I remember our little one-bedroom bungalow with the cardboard walls in the hallway connecting the hollow-walled bedroom and living room… trying to hang pictures, but the nails just pounding into nothing. And that desolation paired with our spotless, white rug and perfectly fluffed pillows, our ceiling high Christmas tree, your sparkling nutcracker and your face on Christmas morning. And that hominess paired with the nights I may have skipped dinner so you wouldn’t. And that paired with the perfection of you sleeping each night in the crook of my arm.
I remember the first time someone mistook us for brother and sister. We were boarding a flight in Burbank and stopped to buy concessions. It was her, the lady at the cash. I kept waiting for her to laugh at her joke, but it never came. You tipped your chin up a little and gave me a nudge; you were nine. I felt a little bottomed out; it was the first time I felt our age gap narrow.
I remember your quivering lip, how you stopped cold and cried when you walked into the room and saw your sister for the first time, quickly batting your tears and wiping your eyes before gathering her in your arms in a weirdly natural way, and smothering her in kisses. She was 17 hours old and you were 10. You’d always been my sensitive one. . . but this?
I remember last week when the stick you brandished on our hike—which I’d thought was a walking stick—turned out to be your means of fending off mountain lions. How you lead the way, scanning left and right as your sister and I bounded down the trail behind you, stopping only if you heard something up ahead or to pull her onto your shoulders when she became too tired to walk.
That hour before sunset on a regular Friday night bore the moment I saw you trying to be my protector, not a child-explorer. You are 14, Francesca was three, I’m 36. My son, that May day you came to me all those years ago, you didn’t complete my world. You built it. You’ve shaped the child I was into the adult I am today. You are Me as much as I’m me. You are my silver lining.
June 16, 2014 || Mirrors
“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in the world. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.” – Khalil Gibran
Three decades lie in the four-pixel space between this image of me and the one of you. At once side-by-side and 30 years apart here we are, mother and daughter yet two little girls, each dressed by our moms in the sweater your great-grandma knitted for me. Could my Nana have known—or even wondered—as she worked a spool of wool into something more tangible that it would become a time machine?
Could she have known that my mom—once I outgrew it—would tuck it away in a cedar chest where it would lie in wait for the off-chance a girl would raise her head from the sea of great-grandsons that came long after she’d gone?
I’d like to think my grandma knew one day I’d have a daughter. And that I’d freeze the likeness of you next to one of me like mirrors… the child you are today and the one I used to be.