I just got back from a two-week trip to Peru with my mom, and the only word to describe it, the word we both agreed on after much contemplation and reflection, is numinous. And not just because we were town-hopping through the Sacred Valley in the omnipresence of mountains, lush plants, prepossessing flowers of all colors, and of course ancient ruins that beckoned us to jump over the walls routine has built in our own minds – it was all that that was sacred, and that we shared it all together, just me and my mum.
When my dad passed away last September, my mom was the first person I called, the first person whose arms I literally ran into, the one person who stayed with me day and night, the only person I trusted and looked to to be my guide, my cushion, my boost – honestly the list could go on infinitely. To put it simply, she was my everything, and now she is most definitely my everything. My dad will forever be a part of me, but now he is gone, and the space that they previously shared somewhere in me and my soul, is emptier, and I fill it as best I can with the wisdom and strength and love that my mother gives me. It is an enormous responsibility being a parent to begin with, and I know now my weight may be even heavier for my mom; I know for sure everything I’ve gone through since this past September has been heavy, and it’s been mostly her arms catching me. Even on this trip, I had a heavy day, and she was, as she always is, patient, kind, reassuring, and calming. She never makes me feel like I’m overreacting or that anything about grief should be easy. So I wanted to thank her. I asked her last December where was one place in the world she really wanted to go, and she said Machu Picchu. I replied that I was taking her there. So off we went.
On the first day of our trip we hopped out of the cab at the Plaza de Armas in Lima, and my mom grabbed my hand, squeezed it, and we both audibly smiled. During our touring to museums, old churches, gardens, parks, entrancing ruins, rugged mountains, quaint villages, rustic farms, bustling markets, stunning vistas, and everything in between, it’s the things that we created ourselves; the tidbits of conversation, the funny moments, all the times we got lost, the experiences we couldn’t plan for, that stick out in my mind the most. Like the day I woke up more ill than I’ve ever felt, attended to by a young medical student who spoke only Spanish and whose incredibly shaky hands forced my mom to step in and insert my IV (the first she’d done in 15 years since she worked as an ER nurse) to give me some much-needed relief. Or the night she legitimately jumped up from her sleep to dazedly, maybe deliriously, definitely hilariously, impersonate Lawrence Welk at my asking of who he was. Or the cliff-side car ride on narrow mountain roads we shared in moderate terror and complete awe. We laughed every day and shared countless instances of curly hair frustration and release. While my curls (and my persona) may be darker and coarser than hers, we have the exact same cheekbones and lengthy necks (and obsessive compulsive tendencies, pragmatic perspective, mild introversion, hot sensitivity, and inclination to smile and squeal).
There is an unshakable faith I have in my mom, in her insight and intuition. My gratitude for her is ineffable. I honor you, Mum, as my always and always mother, and as an authentic, evolving, and emotional individual. Thank you for sharing it all with me. I celebrate you, evermore.
And I encourage everyone else to celebrate the mums in your life too.