The hug that won’t let go

Time elapses closer to my flight departure. I’m walking around, suspending points A and B, moments of permanence dissolved with each forward step, catching fleeting eyes I’ll never lock again. This airport is a hub of here and there, coming and going, dependent on the clock but yet I’m feeling paralyzed and timeless. Once I’m up there I may never come down. Once we go forth we may never look back (proving once again that there is another place to use to use “once we go forth we may never look back,” in a sentence that is not part of a high school graduation speech).

It is at this hyperbolic point of no return that I stop walking and think about how I came to be here, standing on two feet, breathing, thinking, and somehow knowing what I’m doing and where I’m going. As the moving sidewalk almost trips me over its halted momentum, I can’t help asking myself how the hell I became an adult. When did this happen? My inner klutz asks how I have not screwed up my life already—without an answer. Although mistakes have tripped me several times along the way, I seem to be stumbling by just fine. But how?

In these times of introspective quandary, I refer to my mother, not for advice but for reason. It’s no accident that today is Mother’s Day, and Mother’s Day always falls on a Holy Day in May. If Easter’s April is the month of fertility, then May must blossom with maternal instincts, the care and nurturing of young minds becoming strangely spiritual—so spiritual, you may as well burn all those How to Be a Perfect Mother books. Now I love my mother, but she is not—never has been and never will be—perfect. Perfection is an illusion, while spirituality is all around, realistically attainable for all mothers regardless of their social class or education level. My mother is spiritual because, above all else, she believes in my sister and I, even when we let her down, even when our decisions confuse her, and especially when we make her proud. While it used to take care of me when I was a little girl, that spirituality is ultimately what keeps me upright as an adult.

On this commemorative Mother’s Day, I remember fondly the last time I saw my mother, about three hours and one time zone ago when she locked me in a two-minute long embrace before I headed off to my gate to catch the next plane back to the book we’ve both come know as My Life, and although it could not have happened without her, she still insists on giving me all the credit and the by-line. Mid-embrace, she says, “I wish you lived closer,” still not letting me go. To my mother, hugs have no expiration date. I know they end whenever she lets go.

Like all spoiled-with-a-happy-childhood children, I too often see my mother as just my mom, but she was also my grandmother’s child, her creation creating my creation by way of circumstance. I continue to marvel at the dynamic by which I evolved from sperm-egg collision to the full-grown woman my mother hugged and wouldn’t let go. I’m glad to be an adult she can believe in. And I’m endlessly thankful we’re both still here.

That’s really what Mother’s Day is all about for me—a more appropriate Thanksgiving with flowers instead of turkey, with giving instead of consumption, homebred instead of home-cooked. As I give thanks for my mother, inevitably the societal pressures of marriage and offspring start looking for my biological clock, but this Mother’s Day it’s still nowhere to be found since I’m still wondering: How are sorry excuses for adults like me capable of producing and raising kids in this power-trip world where nobody knows what’s right and everything else is just wrong? Is parenthood still a choice or has it become an expectation, or worse, a responsibility?

For my mother, it was an accident, since she wasn’t supposed to even be able to have kids. She wasn’t supposed to hug anyone today. But thankfully, as sure as I’m standing in this concourse, travelers indefinitely rushing by, it all happened. And whether or not I someday follow my mother into creating new life, I know for sure that I will continue to create new texts. Like this one, this Mother’s Day gift from a financially challenged adult daughter, every text I write is guided by my mother’s spiritual presence, and while her long goodbye hugs may have to end, I know she won’t let go.


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