When I was young, I told the world how strong I was. Imagine a girl like me: a hundred pounds and a couple of decades. Maybe we are invincible in our youth, as I believed and felt.
I hitch-hiked. I took a Greyhound bus from Albuquerque to Philadelphia. And North Carolina. I rock climbed. Blindfolded. I camped. Alone. I fell in love. With ex-cons, gangbangers, and other women’s husbands.
My mother raised me on women’s rights and responsibilities. Basically, NEVER need a man; take care of yourself. Be strong and successful.
I thought I was and always would be. Without the need for a man. Maybe that’s why I chose so many I later discarded.
I couldn’t buy into the fairy tale. Because my mom told me and showed me it was a lie.
Later, she and her ideas appeared weak in the face of cancer and the kind of loneliness a daughter can’t cure.
After she passed over, it occurred to me she might do a few things differently given the opportunity.
My mom died needing and not receiving the closeness of a husband she managed a long-distance marriage with.
Maybe her first marriage to my father shattered something in her. She modeled what I later mirrored, trying out for the role of wife.
My mom and I each experienced how a man you love can grab you by the throat and kick you in the stomach simply by putting you second and practicing everyday nonchalance.
Or is that the story I tell for things I wish I could’ve done differently?
The decades have stacked to five and my mom’s been gone two.
Am I strong? Yes. Invincible? Not even close. That’s no longer the question.
I am loved. That was the lesson and the choice worth waiting for.