There had been roses and a hound dog, a tire swing, a rattlesnake, and a new baby in recent memories. I sat with Barbie dolls and crayons, and you walked out smiling, my widow’s-peak beautiful Mama in your wedding dress. You leaned on the door frame with a told-you-so face, trying it on for Daddy.
Every night when I tuck Jude into bed, he tells me I’m beautiful, and I know he means it, because I remember that intense longing for my beautiful Mother. He tells me every single night, though I walk around like a water balloon carrying my 4th prodding child.
You did that, too – ballooned 4 times, your stretched out thigh skin, a prophetess for the shape of my own legs. I remember peppermint sticks and you growing in a sweatshirt, the rustled leaves, and the crescendo of woods. I remember muddy pond feet and the bologna cut into heart shapes.
Spring came with a baby, and I ripped my head open on the concrete in the hospital parking lot. I kissed you when you came home, and you smelled like sweet milk.
A summer after that, you were wearing the yellow trapeze dress again, full to the brim with surprise baby, the one that came out like a Sumo. You leaned against the door frame, back of your hand to forehead, and you posed for the photograph, all of us shot through with side-glanced emerald eyes.
At some point when I was still small, I remember being at grandmother’s, the television loud. We prowled in the front room, you and I alone and quiet. I’m sure you had to move something to sit at the piano. Your fingers touched the keys, and out came such sadness, the first time I ever heard Fur Elise or had even thought about the music that might come of you.
Something in me wonders now if I didn’t somehow understand in that moment that life started way before my own memories, that darkness had the potential to swallow, and that you chose to be our Mama and to love our daddy.
So much ugly was lost on you, Mama. It’s almost Mother’s Day, and I want you to know that I hope to be like you, how beautiful you are.