When I was a little girl, wispy blonde braids and no concept of the laws of gravity,
I would often jump too high, without any fear of a disastrous landing —
You never told me notto jump, simply reminding me to watch where I landed.
It was you, after all, who mourned the deaths of easily trampled flowers and taught all of your children to move through this world both intentionally and kindly.
You wanted us to add to the world, not take things away from it.
I used to beam with pride every time someone remarked at the similarity of our bone structure,
our sea-blue eyes,
While some little girls may have dressed up in their mothers flowery blouses
and applied clownish red lipstick across their chubby cherub cheeks,
I never wore your clothing or dragged your too big heels across the hardwood floors of our home
because you never owned heels, and I refused to change out of my fluffy pink tutus.
Needless to say there was some divergent individuality from the very beginning.
I did try on your red cowboy boots once —
but the leather was too stiff and I still didn’t really feel like you.
When you would leave for weekends on long music trips,
I would spritz a pair of honeycomb socks with your sandalwood perfume,
and fall asleep next to the scent of you, imagining the curve of your arm at my back.
Is there anything more simple and complex than missing the person that brought you into this life?
When I stopped being a little girl, there were times I forgot to be kind, sometimes intentionally.
I pushed for the space I used to despise, yet I missed the time when it was easy to be so close to you.
Indeed there are few things closer than the nine months before you beckoned me into the world,
when all that I knew was you — that first day, that first breath, when you couldn’t imagine letting me go.
Because letting go meant letting in uncontrollable things,
heartbreak and ache and growing pains — spilling over, stable things becoming crooked, tarnished and heavy.
And yet you knew I would never understand how to be in the world if I didn’t learn to see the bloom in my bruises, the shift in my actions, the beauty in the mess of thingsleft behind if you never look at where you’re landing.
We bloomed in different directions, until slowly but surely, the tide backed down the shore,
and the scattered fights of adolescence smoothed themselves over,
exposing fragile bits of abalone, twirled shells, and slivers of cloudy blue sea-glass.
So, I’ve learned to stop and smell the roses,
I’ll grieve over trampled flowers, plant new ones and grow into myself as I learn how to be in the world.
After 21 years of daughterdom,
I have come to realize that I am no longer young enough to believe I know everything,
and in these times, I can still reach out to you.
Because though I will never be you, in your stiff red-leather cowboy boots,
I am of you,
and I don’t need to fill the shoes of someone I love,
especially when you’ve given me everything I need to be completely my own, maybe not always intentional,
and maybe not always as kind as I should be, but always trying, and that’ll do for now.