I have been a Motherless Daughter for more years than I care to count, having lost her while I was in college. During the weeks and months that followed, my college friends often accompanied me home on weekends to help me pack up her belongings for storage at the home of one of my aunts. At the same time, I packed my own personal belongings to take to another aunts home, where I would be staying on future breaks and vacations. During one of those weekends, one of my friends came across this:
Before it was in a frame, it was in the form of a greeting card. It was one of several in a bag from the card store, with no name or other markings as to which of her two daughters my mother had intended it for. In truth, she probably hadn't decided either; she was one of those people who loved to send cards, and since she wasn't able to get out as often as she might have liked, she kept them at the ready for the appropriate occasion, or for whenever the mood hit.
The day it was found, my girlfriend read it out loud, as tears streamed down all of our faces. These days, I like to take it down off of the shelf and hold it while I read it, and it still brings tears. I always feel my mom close with these words, knowing that she intended them for her daughters:
To My Daughter
When you were born I held you in my arms and just kept smiling at you
You always smiled back your big eyes open and full of love
You were such a beautiful good sweet baby
Now as I watch you grow up and become your own person
I look at your laughter your happiness your simplicity your beauty
and I wonder...
where you will be in fifteen years
and I wonder where the world will be in fifteen years
I just hope that you will be able to enjoy a life
of sensitivity goodness accomplishment and love
in a world that is at peace
But most of all
I want you to know that
I am very proud of you
and that I love you dearly.
~Susan Polis Schutz
Today, I say to my mother that the world is different from the one you left; it's faster, harsher, scarier. But I know how to survive in it, even thrive in it, because you taught me how to find the beauty and the joy in each and every day.
As to your dream of peace, your candidate of choice Jimmy Carter has done a great deal toward that end, but we still have a long way to go. I don't think that we'll get there in his lifetime, or mine either, for that matter. Someday, though.
I daydream sometimes about how different my early adulthood might have been had you still been with me, until I remember that you were even younger than I was when you lost your own mother. With that memory I realize that you would tell me not to waste my wishes on what can never be, but rather to focus them on what I can achieve.
And so I thank you today for setting me upright on the path, and for giving me the skills I've needed to stay that way. I only hope that I make you proud, each and every day. I love every bit of this life you've given me.
I can't wait to see you again!