Two months ago my grandmother (and the woman who raised me) passed away. I rushed to go see her before she died, and then spent a scant few days processing her death with family before driving home…straight into the whirlwind of a pandemic that has not come close to abating. I feel like I have not had the time (or the emotional resources) to truly grieve, and now I’m against Mother’s Day, sitting with the emptiness of my mama’s absence.
This emptiness is stark against my daughter’s constant presence. Sofia and I have not had an hour apart since we’ve all had to isolate ourselves. As we’ve had to adjust to homeschooling, working nonstop from home, adjusting to a new day-to-day, processing the changes it’s made to our lives and to our world, Sofia has become increasingly needy…even as she’s demonstrated incredible resilience and adaptability.
She begs to sleep with me, begs to cuddle with me. She curls up in my lap, promising to never leave me, stay with me forever and ever. I tell her that she won’t want to stay forever, and that this is okay. We all leave. We can’t promise forever. Especially daughters and mothers. There will be a time when she will leave home, and there will be a time when I will leave her behind as well. But in this time of chaos and uncertainty, what can I promise her? What can I teach her?
I can promise her that I will always love her. That while I am here she will always be seen, always be heard, always fought for. That till my last breath she will in some way be tethered to me, never adrift, never alone. No one ever should be.
Perhaps that is what my tender and ferocious love for her can teach the both of us during this dark time: No one should ever be alone, adrift. I can use this opportunity to teach her the foundations of duty and care. How even in this time of isolation we are deeply dependent on each other. The biggest gift we have is our capacity to give to the world, and the best message I can hope to give her is that we are beholden to one another.
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