“the soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears”

There is a huge mess of terms and concepts and questions scattered at my feet. Love. Forgiveness. Submission. Maturity. Freedom. Identity. God as my father. My father. My mother. My mother. My mother. My mother.

I missed her so much tonight.

Ever since she stopped talking to me, she has felt dead to me. But it should not surprise me so much, since, in all the years I have known her, she has never seemed really alive.

I want my mom to live.

I think the reason I cannot really forgive my mom is not because of any anger or bitterness on my part, but because I do not want to acknowledge that how she treated me was wrong. I have spent so many years defending her, affirming how good of a mother she was, how she did as best as she knew how.

But it is not my job to defend her.

My mom has been through a lot, more than I know. I do not think she has really processed it, because she has not experienced redemption, healing, freedom. There has been abandonment, racism, abuse. There has been misunderstanding, hurt, pain. She did not mean to, it was never her intention, but she passed all those things down to me. Her identity is found in being a successful mother, and in her eyes (and up until recently, mine as well) I have failed her, and so she has failed, and lost her reason to live.

There are layers and layers of lies.

My mom is a very private person. But the ways she has bound her daughters in privacy and secrets creates in me fear, builds walls, hardens my heart. I have learned that there is power in sharing something to cast out fear of it, for then fear no longer has power over me. For so long I have tried to honor her wishes for secrecy and silence, but this is my story, too.

Every time I call her, I pray, “Maybe this time she will pick up.” But she never does.

My mother is beautiful. She is so sensitive and thoughtful of others. She is empathetic and compassionate. She is professional, polite, and punctual. She likes alliteration. She has a lovely singing voice. She likes Doritos and big mugs of Twinings Earl Grey tea with honey. She has a lot of ghetto fab clothes but only because she likes rhinestones and bright colors and statement pieces. She gets cold easily. She is tiny and fragile.

She is still so young, her life nowhere near over. There is still so much hope that she could have.

It is so difficult to try to explain what I am learning while also honoring my mother. I wish I knew how, but for too long I have tried to separate the past from the now.  “Our lives are twisted vines, inextricably spun and intertwined.” I am not trying to tear her down — Please, God, let this be communicated well! — I am trying to love her.

I do not write this with a self-righteous attitude, thinking I deserve an apology. Rather, I am trying to say: I need to recognize that the way I grew up was not good. That some things should never have happened. I have always overlooked it: “There are so many others who have it so much worse.” I have justified it: “Look at how it has made me a better person. Good came out of it, so it must now be good, too.” But I do not have to be thankful for the bad.

I need to recognize what was big to see need for what is bigger.

Above all,

keep loving one another earnestly,

since love covers a multitude of sins.

(1 Peter 4:8)

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