"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Remember

Balsamroot
I remember the first time my daughter called me Mom. I remember my surprise at her decision to give me the title because she’d called another woman Mom for the twenty-four years before we met. I remember the thrill of hearing that dormant part of my identity named by the one person I was told I’d never meet. I remember responding to her “Hi Mom” with “Hello my daughter."

I remember our first hug, how each filled the curves of the other like they had never been filled before. I remember the strength and conviction of her embrace, no hesitation or reserve. I remember hugging her back, absorbing the warmth from every contact point, and telling myself to feel and remember. I remember her kissing me on the mouth, and her laughter as she explained that she’d waited her whole life for that hug and kiss. I remember our pulling apart to study each other and then falling into another, longer embrace.

 I remember we didn’t disconnect physically—that some part of us was always touching except when we were in the bathroom­­­—during the twenty-four hours of our first contact.

I remember the Red Robin parking lot in which we stood, surrounded by the ocean rush of freeway traffic and the tantalizing smell of cooked meat. I remember the heat of the May morning sun on my head and the remnant chill of the previous night on my sandal-exposed toes. I remember the tremor in my knees that worked its way up through my heart and into my voice, a vulnerability I so didn’t want her to see.

I remember searching her beaming face for evidence of my own. I remember recognizing my wide smile, the Cherokee curve of my cheekbones. I remember delighted surprise that our chin-length pageboys were so similar. I remember wondering (and not asking until much later) why she straightened her hair. I remember marveling at her velvety Afro halo, her father’s legacy, in the childhood pictures she had sent me in the weeks before. I remember sparkling cola eyes and soft fawn skin.

 I remember thinking there was something undefinable about her that reminded me of my own mother, and wishing that weren’t so.

I remember the musical meadowlark pitch of her voice. I remember her laughter, a summer creek over rounded stones. I remember she laughed often. I remember laughing at funny stories from her childhood that made me want to weep for all I’d missed of her.

I remember walking into the restaurant holding hands like elementary school girlfriends. I remember wondering if anyone noticed us and somehow knew what a miracle was occurring right before their eyes. I remember the waitress telling us as she refilled our iced teas how nice it was to see a mother and daughter enjoying each other’s company so much. I remember asking how she knew we were related. I remember her saying we looked so much alike. I remember the thrill of pride I felt and my daughter’s delighted smile. I remember telling the startled waitress our story, needing someone to be witness. I remember asking her to take our picture. I remember posing next to my daughter, arms entwined, heads leaned together, her musky perfume blended with my floral.

I remember our remaining time that day as a carousel spin of shopping, walking and driving to the constant calliope song of our words and laughter.

I remember our room in the Motel 6 where we started the night each in our own double bed. I remember her little girl voice asking across the darkness if I’d mind if she cuddled with me for a while. I remember waking frequently during the long night, feeling her in my arms, marveling at the fact that after twenty-four years of waiting, I had finally soothed my daughter to sleep. I remember opening my eyes to her sweet face studying mine, her smile a mirror reflecting my joy, her greeting: “Good Morning, Mom. I love you.”

Written in response to the follow-up prompt to "I can't remember" for Lisa's class (and for #1Nana).

Photo by Walt, taken at Catherine Creek.

28 comments:

Wanda said...

Oh, wow. This leaves me breathless.

Barb said...

Memories like these are sustaining. I'm so glad you had the chance to meet and connect, Deb. I will say to you what she can't: "Happy Mothers Day"

kario said...

Love.
Just love.

Wanda..... said...

Celebrate your memories, Deb...very touching posts.

DJan said...

Perfectly told, beautifully written, and breathtaking. Thank you for sharing this...

#1Nana said...

Perfect! I can't imagine the roller coaster of emotions, but your writing gave me a glimpse.

I just spent Mother's Day with my daughter and two granddaughters. Just an ordinary day, swimming at the pool, a trip to Costco, washing the car and a BBQ for dinner, but I am grateful and blessed for the experience of being a mother and grandmother.

Happy Mother's Day,Deb. I know you too are blessed for the experience.

yaya said...

After reading the first post, then this one, I was left with a much happier feeling...one that says how much she loved you and you her. I'm glad you have that wonderful memory burned in your heart. Always treasure those moments. I will say Happy Mother's Day to you because you gave the world such a wonderful child, if only for a short time. I hope you can find comfort in those memories.

patricia said...

I loved reading the "I remember" post so much. I almost wrote my own "I remember" post because there was such a need for the response to the "I don't remember post."

Happy Mother's Day. You are a great mom to all those kids you have taught over the years, including mine!!

Desiree said...

This is truly beautiful, Deb. A wonderful, indellible memory of the miracle of your first meeting!

Niki said...

so very tender

deborahjbarker said...

Possibly one of the most moving posts you have given us. Simply beautiful.
Deborah

Katie Gates said...

Wow. Just beautiful.

the wanderer said...

just marvelous. i marvel at the truelove that is palpable here.
that's what you have shared with me--thank you.
michelle,
thewanderer

Donna said...

Heartstring tugs for sure, Deb. Little bitty tears are streaking down my cheeks for you. This is beautifully written and heartfelt as much as my own memories with the mother I miss so much! Hugs to you from me and more!!

Retired English Teacher said...

You remember the important memories. I know that memories such as these do give us the strength to leave the past in the past because these memories are to beautiful.

Stacy Crawford said...

It is those beautiful moments in life make us remember our loved ones. I'm glad you have these happy thoughts to remember her by.

colbymarshall said...

That's beautiful, Deb. Happy Mother's Day.

Linda Myers said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Terri Tiffany said...

Beautiful memories for a lifetime.

Lavi said...

This is a beautiful sequel to your previous post, full of joy. Your memories are precious and your words made me smile.

I wanted you to accept a little award from me.

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh Deb...this makes me cry. I'm soooo sorry for your loss now. This is such a lovely, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing...

Cheryl said...

I've just read your last two pieces and though the daughter I've recently lost was not even human, I know exactly what you are saying. I recall vividly our first encounter and yet our last is vague and leaves me totally bereft. I cannot imagine how you feel, knowing how I feel and knowing there really is no comparison. Love and hugs to you.

deb colarossi said...

you've pierced my very soul with this , Deb.

oh, how your heart must ache.

Sandi said...

Oh my Gosh, I am sobbing and I love you!

Out of My Mind said...

Just checking in to see what you were up to.
And, guess what, this was so beautiful that I cried.
What an amazing story.

As for me, Things are settling down around here but still trying to get used to the noise and clutter two little kids provide.
kt

Pam said...

It is a piercing shard of emotions to live with dearest Deb, but for all that, having read this, your daughter would have felt you understood her choices. That I feel, is our final gift. To respect the final personal decision to put the full stop of the story of a life. Our bravery lies in knowing we have no choice but to accept the tidal wave of emotions that follow, the big sea of sorrow. The best we can hope for is calm days and clear skies.
Decades ago I saw my mother-in-law trying to steer through this choppy and unpredictable territory, along with my husband and his siblings. I cannot begin to comprehend the loss of our daughter in this heart-shattering way. You got to hold her close. She will always love you. Always. And I can't stop my tears from falling for your gentle heart.

Terry said...

This, and the previous post, were absolutely beautiful, and heartbreaking. I can understand the depth of your emotions, much love to you and appreciate and celebrate the memories of your daughter. Much love, Terry

hearts in autumn said...

Dear Catbird Scout

This post moved me to happy tears...and I wondered about a past we almost jointly lived...

I was so happy to hear the story of your reunion.

And yet, the posts by friends who know you and your history, reveal that perhaps your daughter is no longer.

I am so so sorry for your loss.

And yet, I see that you are moving through the loss. You have not lost sight of the light.

I wish you strength to carry on in that direction.

Hugs from me.