Words we utter and stories we tell carry heavy weight. They can make someone come alive or shatter you into pieces, and such collision often stays with us for a lifetime, imprinted on our souls.
My origin story goes something like this; it was a surprise pregnancy for a seventeen-year-old who was involved in a complicated relationship. I was unwanted from the very beginning. What made matters worse, the young mother was convinced I would be a boy. On a cold winter storm night, at 2:57 am, I filled a hospital room for the very first time with the sound of my cry. “It’s a girl!” the doctor proclaimed. My mother didn’t even glance at me once when she said: “I don’t want her; I was supposed to have a boy.” Imagine the disappointment my existence sparked in a woman who carried me for the last eight and half months. Somehow there was no connection between us from the very second I entered this world. I was told that my mother refused to see me for the next several days.
As I got older, I often thought of this story and its impact on me. I realized throughout the years that you only love people as much as you can as far as your own heart expands. There will always be a distance between us that will never be closed. And if I ever have a daughter, I’ll ensure that she knows she is loved and wanted from the very first day.
My great-grandmother, who raised and showered me with nothing but love, was the most significant influence in my life. She was born in 1901 and possessed the strength and grace of a warrior. She had her fair share of bad luck from the stories she told me. She lost her husband and daughter at a young age. Towards the end of her life, she went from living in a mansion to living in a studio apartment. But even after all the sorrows she has experienced, she never became cold, harsh, or weak. Quite the opposite, she possessed all the love in the world and ensured she gave it all to my mother, who she also raised, and me. I think about her constantly, especially around holidays, because she is one of the warmest memories of my childhood. She’s also the only person that showed me what a mother’s love was supposed to feel like. When I was nine years old, my great-grandmother passed away, and I can honestly say my heart never truly recovered from that loss.
After the loss of the woman that raised me, I expected never to see a mother’s love again. But life insists on reminding us that even in the muddiest waters, lotus flowers still bloom. It came from the most unexpected place.
She is a family member that has handsome sons. Due to COVID-19 and other life circumstances, life has become hard over the last several years. But she never gave up on her family. She is one of those mothers who, no matter how hard life hit her, was still willing to strip the last of her being just to ensure her kids have a fighting chance to make a better life for themselves. She was giving her all every day, bringing a hundred and ten percent, even on those days when there was nothing left to give. I saw the guilt written all over her face for not being able to provide more.
One day I saw her cry because someone extended a helping hand that turned a lot of hardship into a bit of better tomorrow. I have never seen an emotion quite like this, at least not from my mother. It came from the depths of her soul’s ocean and burst into existence in the form of tears. And even know she was thousands of miles away, I saw love explode at that very minute. There it was, right in front of me, staring directly into my eyes, a mother’s love. It was like seeing the aurora lights light up the midnight sky for the very first time or looking into the galaxy of billion stars. I once read that there is a Palestinian woman who plants flowers in the tear gas grenades, which serves as a great reminder that even in the darkest moments, beautiful existence is born.
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