The black, starless sky merges with the still body of water, creating the illusion of one. Lit only by a single moonbeam, the bare arm of a woman reaches from beneath the water’s dark surface, creating a gentle circle of ripples. In her hand, an infant held high and safe from that which its mother could not survive.
When I think of my mother, this is the image that comes to mind. A struggling alcoholic for much of her life, she traded that addiction for cancer and died when she was only 54. I was grown by then. At 22, I had been on my own for three years. My mother had poured all that was good, wise and strong from her into me so that I would thrive, and when she was sure I was on solid ground, she left.
One of her greatest gifts to me was the belief that there was nothing I couldn’t be or do. “There’s always a way,” she would often tell me. By this she meant that whatever the challenge, there was always a way to overcome it. I didn’t have to invent the way. It already existed. I had only to believe it was so, and believe I did and do to this day. Given her own pain, I don’t know where this faith and optimism came from, but she was determined that I would succeed where she had not.
Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 94. Thank you, Mom. You done good.