Mom has been gone for a year and a half now, and I wish I could pick up the phone and talk to her about my daily challenges and then listen to her advice, her praise, and her take on current events. I knew her well, though, so I can almost imagine what she would say to me. She would most definitely tell me I'm working too much, that I'm a wonderful mother, and that she just can't believe these Republican candidates.
I remember when I was very young, Mom told me she was so happy when I finally started walking. She used to fear something catastrophic happening and she would have to leave me behind because she just couldn't carry me. I never knew how to respond to this, but this year, as the refugee crisis made its way across the ocean and onto our screens, I understood what she meant.
When I held Baby Gabe in my arms, or loaded him into a carrier, I couldn't get the image out of my mind, of a toddler boy's body washed onto the shore. The images of families torn apart as they flee violence and oppression haunt me. I can't imagine what I would do if we had to run away from our lives, what we would take, and then comes the guilt of the privilege I have in this peaceful, stable life. I begin to understand Mom's worry and now, I can't wait for Gabe to start walking.
I recently started rereading Toni Morrison's Beloved. It's one of the books I took from Mom's shelves. I turn the pages she once turned and we continue conversations through the books we both love. I remember us talking about Beloved when we were both college students. She told me I'd have to re-read it once I was a mom. "Then," she told me, "You'll understand." I'm starting to understand.
And if I take the time to listen, I can hear Mom tell me to keep things at work in perspective and to consider saying no a little more often. I can hear her tell me that Gabe is just teething and will get back to sleeping through the night; that Kiara will figure out how to get our attention without whining and feigning injury. I hear her complain about Trump and ask if I'm voting for Hillary or Bernie; to remind me that she has been fighting against war and guns and misogyny and we just have to keep fighting. Then she tells me she loves me and can't wait to see all of us for Christmas.
I hope she's listening too, so she can hear me say I love her too, and that she will most definitely be with us for the holidays. And maybe by Christmas, Gabe will be walking.