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.