Olá! Meu nome é Edie. Probably one of my most favoritest things in the world to do is be outside,, drive, and listen to music. I get a kick out of laughing with my my bro and Dad about Far Side jokes. I have a little bit of Hobbes (from Calvin and Hobbes) and Pooh and Piglet in me. I love my family very much. I dream.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
My mom writes about life. I like to pretend that I’m her editor. I feel important when she asks me to read an entry, pushing back the words to look at its core, or to correct a syntactical error. It’s kind of like when she used to let me dress up in her small-flowered dresses and blue pumps and I would parade around her room, begging her to give me her gold ring, set with the aquamarine stone, that Grandma gave her on her sixteenth birthday.
I was a five-year-old then, extravagant and loud, with even louder dreams. All my life I’ve been telling my mom those dreams. And all my life she has listened.
She has placed some of her memories into me. When we lived in New York, mom would write. “I just felt like [through writing] we could know where we were going, if we knew where we’ve been…I was trying to weave together history,” she later told me. I followed behind her, peering into the computer, gleaning the words that she wrote. I picked them up and put them into myself. I tried to make it a secret: I would read when she took my two little sisters, Sarah and Ruth, out to dance, or sneak and read behind her shoulder. She knew.
“I look out my New York living room window,” mom wrote one day:
“The snow is at least two feet deep. The morning rush of cars is thinning on our thoroughfare street. It is a short cut between to main arteries and so we feel the pulse of the professional workday by the flow of traffic. David’s chubby baby hands are pulling the curtains as he tries to stand up, jabbering at the wall and Sarah is climbing on my back asking about when our next meal is. She picks up a dime she’s found and moves it slowly around the table, guiding it by her dainty little three year old pointer finger.”
The way she wrote about my little brother and sister made me remember a gift of my mom’s. This afternoon I had a talk with my teacher, Mr. Andrews Bashan. He brought up a part of my mother’s heart that I forget too often. “She is a good mother,” he said.
Those words gave me a gift. That gift was more understanding of a part of my mother that I was blind to. I want you to know that my mother has a gift for love that stretches as big the plains and mesas of New Mexico, a place we consider a part of our homeland. Her love is a part of her soul: “There are people I have known in my life that I love. I meet them, and in some cases, instantly, I know them in my soul. My religion makes it easy to explain, there was a pre-earth life. We had associations then that continue here and will continue after. Sometimes we remember.”
My dad knows this love deeply. Even as a child I could feel how my mom understood my dad. She once told me that in some cultures, the way of saying “I love you” is really said as “I see you,” I understand you. My mom sees my dad.
“She is my safe haven,” my dad told me as we sat on the couch talking, my mom bouncing up and down in her chair, cheerfully typing up lesson plans. She was listening to Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way You Are,” laughing.
His words called a swirl of memories into my head. I had talked with many people who know my mother’s compassion. Ms. Sara, my mom’s fellow teacher, spoke of her kindness and tolerance. Our friends know of the love that my mother shows towards them through summer evenings of New Mexican food and stories. I see afternoons when my little brother, David, cuddles up in my mom’s lap to kiss her cheek. They see her kindness. They see her, and they see her love.
My mother painted her Jamaica in words, that one year in New York. She has lived in Virginia, Egypt, Jamaica, Idaho, Utah, Connecticut, Romania, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and New York. During the spring of 2009 she described her life in Jamaica in her journal, which was now over sixty pages. For several months she labored patiently, painting Jamaica into words and into my mind. Mom moved there when she was fifteen, and lived there for her sophomore year of high school. As I came behind her to peer deeper into her words, she asked why.
I stumbled around a little bit over my thoughts. Why was I drawn to my mother’s memories? What’s more, why did I feel a connection with her experiences in Jamaica? I can still remember the way that she looked at me when she asked if her words would benefit anyone.
That summer, we moved to Guatemala. Later, she wrote about the first night we spent here, feeling a little lost. She wrote:
“At 9:00pm we went to bed. Eden and I shared one room. She climbed into bed and I did as well, exhausted… ‘What in the world are we doing?’ I thought. I went to bed amazed at how history repeats itself. I stared at Eden remembering myself at fifteen on my first night in Kingston, Jamaica. I couldn’t stop the tears on my cheeks as well. It wasn’t about being sad. I also knew she would never be the same after this experience. None of us would be. This will stretch and pull us and possibly bring us closer. Even though we were disoriented now, in the future, this would be defining for us, as a family and individually. “
I read that memory, and I felt that I was looking at life from the other side of the mirror. Change didn’t shatter any part of myself. It unified parts of me. It unified my family. It gave us, especially my parents, seemingly insuperable challenges. Still my mother continued to comfort me. Me, the one blinded by my sadness. Me, the one deafened by my weakness.
“Eden’s asks the same questions I asked in Jamaica. Why? Why the inequity. I still don’t have an easy answer. Sadly, just more time to get used to it,” my mom wondered in her journal. I remember the talk that we had that inspired this. My memories parallel her experiences, two hands pressed together. We had the same questions. We often had the same hurts.
And our joy is the same. I hold my mom’s memories near not only because of their closeness to mine. I hold her memories close to me because when I read them, I see her.