Kate of Sweet Salty makes me want to write. That is nothing new. Her writing is the kind I live for, the kind that beats and breathes a truth that makes you want to run circles around the room yelling “Yes yes yes EXACTLY!” I just sit there nodding like a fool while she dumps the contents of my brain out into a post whose path feels well worn and rhythmic and then: always surprising, lit-up and dazzling with that Kate-brand magic. Her words are the kind I want to crawl into, press into the palms of my friends. She is not unlike Sarah in that way.
So today. Another beautiful post, one that ended with this:
Please do this instead. Tell me memories of your mothers. Doesn’t matter if they’re still here, or if they’re estranged. Tell me stories of ghosts and cloud biscuits. Tell me the opposite of arbitrary. Tell me what you’ll always remember so that I’ll know, and my mother too, that motherhood, as nutty as it makes us, endures through everything.
The second I began the telling, I realized it was more of a invitation, a prompt, than I’d ever realized. I left it on the post anyway, just for the embarrassment of having the comments section read: comment, comment, GIANT FRIGGIN ESSAY OMG, comment, comment. but! Decided I’d re-post it here too. There’s so much more I’ve been hand-wringingly meaning to write and haven’t (so it goes, so it paralyzes, so I need to fucking get over this fear or this whatEVER), but this will be a good place-holder for now.
I will tell you that she is the kindest woman I know. I will tell you that when I was just barely 14, she had an ovarian cyst removed and I waited for her to come home from the surgery tucked alone in a corner of my suddenly very large room. My sister was away at college and my dad was at the hospital. We didn’t know for certain yet that the cyst was benign. I will tell you that what her goneness would mean was suddenly there in that room, huge and crushing, enough to stop my heart. I was terrified and told know one, could not place the words to something so utterly unthinkable. I will tell you how I watched from the window above the driveway as my dad carefully walked her to our door, her steps so tiny and so slow, and I wanted so badly to know that she was going to be OK, but face on the glass I knew only that I loved her, and that it hurt.
I will tell you how she is absentminded and always late, the latter a trait I have inherited and loathe and resent, every time. I will tell you that she always orders dessert, that she is so very aware of the wrongs and the hurt and the work of life, but that she is childlike and curious, joyful and always watching, discovering, thrusting her face towards the sun and saying thank you. I will tell you about 3 weeks ago, when she slept in my twin bed in the small room of my first post-college apartment. She stayed for three days and once while we were shopping a small thing became a large thing, and I got angry and ranted at her, got irrational and obstinate like a teenager. We stepped out into the street and there are two people fighting, one hurling “fuck!”s at the slick sidewalk and sending cruel words down the avenue suddenly quiet in their wake. I can only see them from the side but she is older and might be his mother, and in this way they are parallel because New York has a way of thrusting the inside out, right up close. I will tell you that after this I breathed and started to apologize in a very small voice. She has let me do this so many times over, let me flail outside myself until i come back, where she waits nodding with love. I will tell you that during that visit she looked at me, closed her eyes tight, titled her face up and scrunched it, opened them with an “mmmm” sound and said “happy place.” We walked arm in arm and leaned into eachother, and she came with me to yoga and pushed her uncoordinated self into breathless difficult poses but pushed pushed pushed, and did it, and neither of us could stop beaming over breakfast, both of us so proud. I will tell you that I prepared myself before the class to be a little self-conscious, having her there, and I was, and allowed it and moved on, because look at my mother, look at her strength, look how I don’t even know the half of it, want to drink it in and sit by her feet and live in her light and learn. I will tell you that we had a cheese and cracker picnic on my bed and then read these http://bit.ly/38UyuU together and laughed until messy tears fell down our cheeks. When I put her on a bus back to the airport her mouth bent and her eyes–identical to mine—shined. I will tell you that she does not cry.
I will tell you what my dad told me as he drove me to Brooklyn six months ago, against all of the reservations any pragmatic, caring parent stacks up when their 21 year old daughter moves to a new city for an unpaid position. I will tell you that I had not heard of how he told my mother her father was dead until that car ride. She was only 28. Twenty eight. How had I not been able to consider the size of that, to hold it, awed and careful in my hands, until now, feet planted in the decade? He tells me that when he appeared there so unexpectedly in her office that day she said “Hello!” with “that little smile. oh, you know that little smile of hers? Oh my god.” and that when he tells her she said “No,” with casual certainty. And then, “No, no, no, no, no.” My legs shake beneath my clasped hands and I am stunned to see a sign for a service area sixteen miles away. Nothing exists to me beyond the space the two of us share. That little smile. Of course. Of course. Gratitude is something that comes running up to you around the age I am now, and you want to race after it, chase it through the streets of your years yelling and for this! and this! and this and this! Thank you! So I will tell you I am grateful for my mother, more and more every year, every day. I will tell you that “grateful” seems a cruel summary for the woman, the impossibly sweet and hopeful and clumsy woman I want to thank for my every flaw, for pressing down so hard, so heavy on my heart, for making me light.