May 9, 2020
An Open Letter to My Mom –
I wish that I could remember all of the things you’ve taught me and told me over the years, because, let’s face it, I won’t always be able to call you up to ask if meat can be re-frozen or when flour can substitute for cornstarch, or what it felt like to watch the moon landing, or where you first saw Bruce Springsteen play when you were in college. I know there are many days when it must feel to you like I rarely listen – which you don’t begrudge me because you know I’m out here being busy trying to do all of the things you always believed I could do whether or not those things were even possible in the world when you brought me into it. But Mom, I have been listening. And watching, observing. Learning from you how to love.
There is evidence that shows the effects of trauma can be passed down in the DNA from one generation to the next. I’m sure that is true. Here I have only a case study to present to support it, but I’d hedge my bets on suggesting the opposite is true, too – that the effects of empathy, kindness, and nurture can be written into the genetic code. I don’t know whether I will ever be a mother, but because of you, I am confident that I would know how to.
My body and my bones know that French braids are worth waking up extra early for, that any room is a comfort if a candle is lit, and that conversations with plants can be some of the most rewarding. They know that pie dough is always better if it is still stuck in your rings the next day; goldfish deserve burials; and fairies and leprechauns are as important as textbooks and computers. Above all, they know that salt air kisses your skin and mountains can hug you, but home is where you make it. And of course, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t have a ticket.
This world, this existence is a fragile one. You’ve known that better than most, longer than most, which is perhaps why you somehow give so much of yourself with such abandon, while at the same time holding on so tightly. This year, in this now, as your daughter I have only one request: be kind to yourself. Show yourself the same love you have shown me, and please believe me when I say you deserve it.
With love and gratitude,