She knows already. She knows and she watches, and does she hang her head low, her eyes closed, swallowing what she must when she sees her daughter’s stories? I can see her in profile, an image in my mind, perhaps I stole this one from a small black and white photograph I kept as a child. It’s a serious look, her face severe. What must she be thinking?
I have not told her my stories. I have never said to her, this happened, or look at me, my pain. But she has seen. She has been there, in darkness, in the background, and it is only her face that I wish to see now.
I think of what my own anger would be, had my daughter been me, and I my mother. And if I could have seen, watched, witnessed, these stories, my fury would fly like a flame across the sky, wishing to burn something out, right to the ground. But this is she, my mother, and these stories mine, and it has been her fury that instead has burned within me, dissolving rage and defiance and private misery.
Somehow, her hand has held mine, in a quiet prayer, a silent recognition, and to me she has never given bitterness or imprisonment of the past. Instead, she has pointed to that place in me where she herself must always be, that place from which I have heard my own stories.
It is from this place that I can look out now, and listen to each word and each cry. And maybe more easily I can see my stories from this place beyond pain, beyond memory, beyond despair. It is this that she has given me, her rage, her fury, not burning like a deep wound, but more truly, illuminating within me a hidden river of strength and peace.
I will look for her face, always wishing that somehow, sometime, she will confirm to me my feelings, showing herself as she was. But I do know that in finding my own peace, she has been there, witnessing, holding, and ultimately, showing me the way in.
Originally published at Awakened Woman
© Nellie Levine