Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear Mom


Dear Mom,
I remember the time I was riding my bike, fell and cut my knee wide open. I ran home with blood streaming down my leg. How old was I? 7, 8?
You were there.

I remember the time the neighbor’s cousin hit me with a plastic boomerang (it was an accident) and gave me a bloody nose. And the time the (same) neighbor and I set up a mini-golf course in his backyard and he hit me the forehead with a golf ball (another accident) and I got a concussion.
You were there.

And I vaguely remember when I was really young and was awake coughing from allergies and bronchitis and you where there. You’d take care of me and read me stories.

Fevers, and broken bones; aches and pains.
You were there each time.

And I got older and awkwardly tried growing into my skin. I guess like many adolescents I was excited and afraid. I was happy and lonely as I slid into becoming an adult. I remember the time I broke curfew and had been drinking. It was not a happy or proud moment. But I’m glad you were there then, too.

I went off to college and fell in love. A little too quickly, perhaps. You stayed quiet, mostly, and, I now imagine, prayed I’d be okay. I was afraid to tell you we were having troubles, then getting a divorce. Afraid you wouldn’t understand. Afraid you’d be disappointed. But when I did tell you, you only held me and told me you loved me and I began to wonder why I had been afraid.

And then I found love again. Wonderful love. I was happy. I could tell you were happy for me. You told me so. And when she, the mother of my boys, died so soon and so suddenly it was you who answered the phone. Heaven knows what would have happened to me if you hadn’t. But you did – you were there.

And now, having children of my own, as a parent, all the times I doubt, or second-guess. The times I wonder how they are doing without really ever knowing. Wishing I did know and wanting some certainty. The times I look into those young boys’ eyes and begin to see the men inside them starting to peek back and realize how little power I really have. And then I imagine the times you looked at us, at me, wondering and seeing and realizing the same things.

I know what you’d say. You’d probably say something like: Oh, Johnny, these things we can never really know. You’d tell me something about: that is why we have hope and love and faith. We want to be perfect but who really knows what that is anyway. You just have to do your best. Follow your heart. Then you’d probably tell me a story about someone or something you read in the paper or heard on the radio. I wouldn’t quite understand the relevance until sometime the next day.

You may not have been a perfect mom; I know I wasn’t a perfect son. But it hardly matters. With everything that has happened in my 45 years, with all the times I’ve wanted to give up on hope and love – when I’ve lost the faith – life shows me otherwise, and you’ve been there. And that is perfect enough.

I love you,
John

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