Today was the first day in many years that we didn’t speak with each other.
You were always there, seated at the dining table in the mornings. You were there when we traveled to work together. And even through the weeks when I was working so hard I knew neither day nor night, your presence was always felt. You never failed to send me a text message or email, asking if I was having dinner at home or staying back at work late. Back then, I thought you were just ‘checking’, like all mothers do. Now I know, it was your simple way of reaching out to me, without being intrusive.
I still have to resist turning my head towards your desk, when I walk into the office. And for a split second this morning, I thought I heard you in the dining room… that’s how deeply ingrained you’ve been in my life. I’m not sure how many other daughters get the chance to live and work with their mothers. Some might scoff and shudder with that very thought, and if they do, I wish I could lend you to them to show just how sweet and rich a mother’s presence can be in a child’s life.
And we all are someone’s child, aren’t we?
Today, I sat in the office during my lunch break, wanting to be alone for a bit… when a scene flashed across my mind.
I was about three years old, seated on our old kitchen table, reading a book that you gave to me. It was a favourite of mine, I think, because you read it to me every single day. And on that particular day, I was proudly reading back each word to you… the sense of accomplishment thrilled me.
‘Mommy! Mommy! See… I’m reading all by myself! Are you listening?’ I remember saying as you busied yourself with the cooking. I didn’t know then the mental struggle you were going through because Father had left the family. Neither could I even begin to understand how much pain you felt each time you had to leave me with the babysitter’s when you went to work.
All I can remember is that you turned around, looked me in the eyes, and smiled.
‘I’m listening.’ You said.
And you were telling the truth. You never did stop listening, even when years later, as a teenager, I refused to hear you out. I would rant, shout my frustrations, cry because I thought no one understood me… and still, you listened. It came to a point where I didn’t want to talk anymore and determinedly shut the world – and you – out of my life.
Yet you waited, your ear inclined to me.
I sought the comfort I once knew with you, from my friends and other worldly fillers, but there were no replacements. The harder I searched, the lonelier I felt. That’s when I opened the door to my heart… and found you there.
There was no repayment that needed to be made. You picked up right where we left off, as though my wandering years didn’t happen.
And like the child who sat on the kitchen table, who read back the words you once read to me… I began listening to you as your stories unfolded, because mommy dearest… the seeds you planted in me were never lost.
‘You are my mother’
And though we are many miles apart, I just wanted to let you know…
I am so proud of you, and what you’re doing over there in Japan. I’m always here for you – whenever, wherever – so please don’t ever think you’re intruding or that I’m too busy. Because no matter what happens on my side of the earth, no matter how chaotic my hours might be, as long as you ask me, ‘Are you listening?’ My answer will be consistent, just like yours always was.
We will get our perfect endings, not because you’re a perfect mom or me, the perfect daughter… far from it. It’s simply because we know the Dream Maker wrote our story. And well, He likes happy endings.
Love you so much,