Her.

I imagine this is what she would have looked like.

The purified, wispy white hair of later old age peeking out from behind her headscarf, loosely arranged around her rosy face. The same kind eyes and gentleness. Except, she would have had strength even then – that brilliant liveliness and loudness, the same sense of humour that so boldly painted her personality.

It’s been 10 years, my Mother reminds me.

How could it have been? Life has grown around the wound, the hollowness that was left once she was snatched away. The pain has dwarfed in comparison to 10 years of life. But it never fully went away. It never will. Grief is the mark Love leaves behind, it is where we pour all of our feelings, our care and frustration, our anger, our despair once there is no one to receive it.

Seeing her always triggers a back and forth between tears and hope. Tears because they look too similar – it’s like seeing her, hearing her, feeling her again.

And hope, gratitude that something of her survives.

How many people get that? How many people get to have such vivid recollections? As though the person was truly there again, for just a second. Who gets that? I do.

It is a kindness. It hurts but it is a kindness all the same.

I’m always a little shaken after these encounters. We all are. My sisters burst into tears as soon as they saw her. She understands, they all do. They know the pain of loss, how tender it leaves you in places, even if it’s been 10 or 20 or 50 years.

I’m 25 and well, I want to tell her. Life is long at 25; everything has both changed and remained the same. I think of you even now.

For now, these thoughts will keep falling in the timeless space of grief. But someday, someday…

Mother

Warm, slow breaths that come and go, as soothing as the tide that washes the shore to-and-fro.

It is ancestral, this rhythm. One I have been hearing ever since I was born—no, even before. It is a rhythm the soul remembers all too well but the body cannot recall.

Her soft, slow breaths. Calming, soothing.

They are no different than they were when my body was so much smaller than hers, so small and fragile that she could cradle me in one arm.  Even her heart, it beats the same rhythm in spite of the years, in spite of the tragedies that broke it and the losses that shaped it.

Her gentle, comforting breaths.

And yet, when I look at her, I can see that everything has changed. Because now, I look down to see her face, now she looks small. The hair that once was black is now grey, the skin that once was firm is now soft and delicately wrinkled. My body is so big now that it could cover hers like a blanket.

Before, she never was anything but herself. But now, she is tired. She is worn, her weary eyes telling the tales of Life. These eyes, they contain such untold depths. In them, I could see the joy, the pain, the sacrifices and the pride, even the hint of dreams yet to fully grow wings. I could see a life, a soul painted in eyes that have been looking at me since before I was even born.

She saw me, when no one else could.

And even now, she sees me in ways no one else can.

But I am scared of how the years are passing her by. Scared of how she grows smaller even though she stays the same, as though she were a flower that was slowly wilting, folding into itself before rejoining the earth.

But flowers are not eternal…Flowers—are not eternal.

Yet I choose to gaze at the flower, thinking it to be as beautiful in the glow of spring as it is in the cold of winter. I choose to gaze at the flower in both bloom and gloom.

I choose to look at her.

But now, I also want to see more. I want to see more of Life etched into the specks of her eyes. I want to see more wrinkles on her face, more grey hair on her head. I don’t like watching her get old, but if that is what she must do, then I will not look away.