All around, there are signs of healing. Longer days and stronger sun have prompted green stuff to cover the scrapes and scratches of ice. We’ve actually gone from bare, cold earth to lawn-mower days in less than a week.
At the same time, the US, in a way, is healing from a decade of grief complicated by the creeping paralysis of a polarized political environment. So much has happened since 911, yet we can call up the searing pain of that day in an instant, with the right trigger. And, this was the right trigger.
In life and in death, Osama bin Laden has hurt us. On Monday, one at a time, we played back those old tapes, reliving our losses. If we thought we had run out of tears years ago, we were wrong.
I had just gotten out of the hospital when I heard the president’s announcement, and instantly wrapped myself in a shawl to help me process the news.
Was I glad? Yes, but not joyful. Was I sad? Yes, but not for OBL. Was I angry? You bet. Not only was I angry for thousands of senseless deaths, but also for the generation that, thanks to him, has had to live with the threat of annihilation. Most of all, I wanted assurance that I need not worry anymore about my family in DC or NY or SF. Tell me it’s really, really over.
And, that’s when I thought of my mother.
She’s been dead a few years, but was lost many years earlier to the fog of Alzheimer’s, and before that to her own demons. On the day I gave birth to my son, I learned exactly what my mom wanted to be to me, even when she couldn’t. It’s okay, I wanted to say. I understand. Now – lucky me - I get to revitalize the primal connection of motherhood vicariously, as a grandmother.
Today, I talked to a cousin who lived with my family when she was young. As soon as she left college, she moved to Spain and never came back. Every now and then we get on the phone and talk about our lives, especially about our mothers.
They were sisters, and as far as mothering goes, they weren’t the best and they weren’t the worst, but they were ours. We loved them and we hated them. We swore we'd never be like them when we grew up, yet can’t look at each other or talk on the phone without seeing, hearing and feeling the presence of those two women, in each other.
And, so it goes.
Here’s a very touching tale that ties together cultures, tragedies and two women from opposite ends of the earth. I'm not sure I could be so generous, but, in spite of vast differences, these women meet at the mother nexus, that place that connects them to the past, future and oddly, to each other.
Here’s to all nurturers, teachers, mothers, everywhere.