When you were in the first grade you pressed your tiny hands into finger paint. I still have your red handprints on the faded yellow construction paper. Your teacher helped you to paste your picture beneath the handprints and you gave me the gift for Mother’s Day. The gift hung on my wall for so many years and then I tucked it away in your box.
There are mementos of each year we’ve been together in your box. Your pink cotton prairie dress which was your hippy mom’s idea of suitable attire for a christening, the crafts you made me at summer camp, the yarn rugs, the pot holders, the blue pottery teddy bear that Nana helped you make for me, the Christmas ornament with the picture of you that you hate (you were in that awkward stage) and just about every card, note and gift you’ve ever given me, they have all found their way into your box.
The gift you gave me this year overwhelmed me, caused tears to pour down my face, the face that you tell me is still beautiful and I know in your eyes it will always be no matter how old I am.
This year’s gift cannot be tucked away in your box. No one can see it but you and I and I don’t even know if you realize just how enormous this gift is, although you created it. You might not even know that you already gave it to me because Mother’s Day is another week away.
My gift was a simple phone call. You asked your husband to call me because your phone wasn’t working and you knew that I’d be worried about the things going on in your life if I couldn’t reach you today.
The gift had multiple facets, as many as a diamond or a kaleidoscope.
The phone call said much more than his words, “We don’t want you to worry today.”
Maybe I heard between the lines, but to me it said–you are sober, you are responsible and that you can look beyond your own needs. It said that you have enough respect for yourself that you know that you deserve to be with a good, hardworking man who respects not only you, but also your mother, no matter how crazy or ditzy we can each get.
The gift reminded me how very far you have come from that day when you walked into a treatment center with drugs hidden in a private region sixteen months ago. It was too late to save custody of your other four babies, but it was not to late to save you, my middle child, my baby. Everyday that you are clean and you are alive is your gift to me.
The gift said that you are fighting the odds and the system to embrace the second chance God has given you, your tiny baby boy and the rather tall teenager whom you gave birth to when you were but a child yourself, the two that you hold so close to your heart as you miss the babies that you can not hold, can not see, can not mother.
This gift will never be put away in your box, that’s true; but it will be alive in my heart and soul long after my bones have turned to dust.