Blessed far beyond what we deserve, Aurelia is able to spend her days while we are at work with both of her grandmothers. I especially love getting to see my Mom’s smile when I get home from work. It is the same smile and insanely positive attitude I’ve seen my whole life. Yesterday we talked about aloneness for a few minutes, life being hard sometimes, and it hit me how incredibly lucky I am to be loved to intensely by not one, but two families. I also thought about how the aloneness we sometimes feel is relative to our situation, but generally cannot compare to what true hardship and aloneness really is in this world. It is not a comfort to have someone tell us “it could always be worse,” but as I looked at this woman standing in front of me yesterday afternoon, I suddenly felt really ungrateful in all my complaining and constant worry over every tiny thing. I realized, Mama has never complained not once, belittled my worries, or made me feel as if my heartbreaks and stresses aren’t real. But she knows about aloneness, more than I will probably ever have to experience in this life.
I remember the strain around her eyes and the choked back tears the first time I really understood how mean girls can be to one another. In fourth grade that was a sad lesson. I already dread this day for my precious girl, who knows nothing of competitiveness, jealousy, or aloneness. It’s amazing that it keeps happening, but I look at Mama and think, she felt this for me too.
I remember her calming my sobs when my first love broke my heart at 17. She sat up with me for hours letting me cry with my head in her lap. She wanted to understand everything, but mostly just to sit with her and not say anything was more healing than anything else. Daddy stalked around, not knowing what to do with himself, wanting to crush this boy who broke the one thing he thought he couldn’t fix. But he and Mama, they had already built the framework for strength and confidence and survivorship.
It’s as if they both spent their young life separating the hurt into one box, and their own unrealized dreams of love, support, and the true definition of unconditional, selflessness and sacrifice into another box. As it does with everyone, sometimes that hurt, and those insecurities creep out of the box, but Mama protected me from her own pain, never hurling those feelings at me in comparison, never reducing me, but always empowering me. Instead, she opened her box with dreams for her family of being covered in love, and that’s what she poured over me in my worst and weakest moments. That’s what she gives me now, as I wait for my tiny boy to arrive, as I stress and complain and beat dead horses, as I worry and toss and lose sleep and start slipping into this world of aloneness. She pulls hope out of the good box. She hugs me and smiles and sympathizes in a way she should not be able to, but she does.
I’ve told you before that ‘thank you’ doesn’t cover it. We need better words to express the gratitude that washed over me this morning. I love you, Mama.
*For more stories on family, click the link for Growing Up Renfro