I’ve never broken a bone or experienced a catastrophic injury to this day, and whether it was due to luck or my own calculating steps, I’m thankful. As the saying “go where the wind blows” says, I thank the subtle breeze for bearing my life with care.
However, I often associate the greatest physical pain I’ve felt as a kid to the moment I chased after a mail truck with anything but care. The distant memory replays in my mind like an old video on a VHS tape: fuzzy and imprecise. I may have been six, possibly seven years old. What I do remember, however, is that in the moment, my eager mind ran faster than my feet, and the speedy chase ended quicker than I expected when my uncoordinated footsteps failed me.
I tripped on the cement, somewhat gracelessly, to no one’s surprise. Covered in scrapes ranging from my knees to my hands to my elbows, I cried, and the tears refused to stop streaming down my face. Looking back, this mishap was no doubt a minor injury, but in the eyes of my younger self, the burning scuffs were equivalent to the sun engulfing the earth.
How could I possibly ride my bike injured? How could I possibly move forward? As a kid, this meager incident was my “end,” my catastrophic injury. At the time, I thought that all that could save me was a time machine, allowing me to go back in time to tie my Sketchers a little tighter.
This was the only possible solution, I thought. It was this, or salvation from a superhero, which is where my mom comes in. She never made a dramatic entrance or had a long cape. Her first name symbolizes a flower, rather than being a product of some intimidating or impractical backstory.
But, she was the one person who never failed to pick me up when I fell down.
After my small tumble, my mom walked me inside, brushed the road’s residue off of my injuries, and assured that I was “as good as new.” She was the reason for my dried tears, the reason I continued forward that day.
This specific incident was, without a doubt, just one example of when she fostered my growth, just one fragment in a complex web of both vivid and distant memories. Each time she picked me up, my tiny, frail hands fit in hers with ease and comfort. Each time our fingers interlocked, it was like finding two adjacent puzzle pieces that fit together, like wrapping myself in a blanket in the dead of winter, like coming to the warmth of my home after a long day.
Thus, throughout my many years of experiencing her security, I’ve never questioned that she’s always been my hero.
I’ve always been thankful for the hands that pulled me to my feet; however, it wasn’t until I grew older that I fully understood what fueled her actions, and over the years, the catalyst for her encouragement during difficult moments has become more apparent. I can argue that a significant part of this motivation was simply because she was my mom, and aiding growth is often a part of raising kids and helping those you love. Yet, it’s always felt more than common parental nature.
Before—when my biggest trouble was tripping over my shoelaces—I didn’t understand that each time she pulled me from the ground, each time she encouraged me to continue forward, each “you’re good as new” comment, was backed by her own determination, courage, and unending desire to focus on the positive aspects of life.
There are seemingly endless metaphors that can describe how she’s received the short end of the stick, been disregarded like a meager ant beneath a shoe, bumped into too many black cats, walked beneath too many ladders. It is as if misfortune has attached like a leach onto an awkward place on her back—the very middle where she can’t reach on her own—and attempted to suck out her spirit until she’s listless and dry.
Yet, despite the astounding amount of adversity she’s encountered, it will never be nearly as astonishing as her strength throughout it all.
In old pictures when she first immigrated to America, they don’t reveal the language barriers or confrontations with meaningless jobs to stay afloat. Rather, they illustrate her soft, beaming smile and how close she held her family.
As she layed in a cold, dusty hospital bed after a cataclysmic car accident, doctors’ eyes spoke of pity. However, my mom’s eyes refused to shut, always remaining illuminated like a perpetual flame on a fading candlewick.
Each time the doorbell rings and family-friends step into our home to apologize for her diagnosis of an illness that ruins cells, bones, and spirits, she disregards her own loss and describes the beauty of what she still has.
Thus, I will always be in awe of not only her grit but her will to sift through the darkness of life in order to reach days filled with imperfect yet incandescent light.
Her courage has given me strength. She gave me strength when she picked me up after I tripped over my shoelaces. She gave me strength as she held my hand as I grew older. She gave me strength when she clung to her life and her family.
Therefore, because of her persistence, I am continuously reminded to value beauty in my life, despite any ill-fate and misfortune.
It is a gift that I will be endlessly thankful for.