Her life changed at 16 years old. She became a wife, a mother a year later. Since then, she’s been a full-time homemaker for nearly 60 years. She’s my mother.
I won’t write about all the sacrifices she’s made in raising me and my siblings. But she has made them. I won’t write about all of the meals she’s cooked that were the best I’ve ever had. But she has cooked them. I won’t write about all of the tears of both joy and sorrow she’s shed over her children, myself included. But she’s shed them. Though these things are precious, I think they’re common to most mothers.
Instead, I’ll write about a woman who conceived a child at 38 years old. That child was me. I wasn’t entirely expected, as I understand it, but I was welcomed. Both my mother and I almost died during my delivery. It was a very rare breech birth, and I couldn’t be born. Only one very old doctor in the hospital had seen this type of birth before, and only once before. By the time the doctors prepped my mother for an emergency c-section, I was nearly gone and my mother was declining rapidly.
That seemed to set the tone for my life. I’m not an easy person to love, and it’s usually costly to do so, despite my best efforts. But love me she did, and God saw fit to bring us both back to the world of the living.
Twenty-five years later, she once again showed me what it was like to feel love. Love has always been difficult for me. I grew up reading and hearing about the bliss, the awe of love. But that isn’t what I knew. Love is not bliss to me. It’s pain. When I took my first leap into the world of love and romance, it ended in the worst heartbreak I’ve ever endured. I was numb – except for unbearable pain. I stopped eating and had determined that God would either take the pain away or I would die from it. After about a week, I found my mother preparing my favorite dishes, trying to get me to eat. I refused. As my health began to decline, I found her one day crying silently, helplessly, staring out the window of her bedroom. I knew that she was crying for me. After days of feeling nothing but the numbing pangs of death, my heart broke for her. At that moment, I understood what it was like to feel love. My pain was her pain. At that moment, the Harlequin was born – the fierce, ruthless, emotionless side of me that was strong enough to spit in the face of pain and death. I vowed that I would not descend into the darkness because her love tethered her to me, and I would do whatever it took to protect her. At that moment, she gave me her ring, the ring that my father had given her. It’s the ring that I wear on my pinky to this day. It’s the ring that I wear both as a symbol of my father’s love for her and as a symbol of her love for me. It’s the ring I wear to remind myself of what real love feels like.
God has blessed me with many years with my mother. We’ve had our ups and downs, of course, but we share a special bond. I don’t know how many more years I’ll have with her, but she’ll always be the First Lady of my life.