A Mother’s Love

I always wondered why adults, when asked to talk about the most important person in their life, would usually say their mothers. That was the 6th grade, so my childish complaints about my mother were taken with a grain of salt. They told me I’d learn. They told me someday I would miss my mom.

It was a muggy afternoon, and the air settled around the field at summer camp like a blanket. I didn’t enjoy the rough-and-tumble frisbee games with the other boys during lunch breaks like this one, so I, thinking myself a mature young man, conversed with one counselor in training as she watched the children.

“What did you say your mom did, Gavin?” She asked me offhandedly. “She’s a nurse, right?”

I picked at the peeling green paint on the picnic table.

“What was that?”

“Engineer,” I answered bluntly.

“Oh, cool,” was her response, and I simultaneously hoped she would leave me alone and ask me more so I could tell her.

Maybe then I should have explained why a purple bruise that no, didnít look like it could have come from a hand, was only half covered by the collar of my t-shirt. Maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have kept asking my friends if their mothers ever said they loved them until I moved out at the age of 19.

It was still summer, and my little sister and I lay in our bunk beds, listening to the steady whir of the window AC unit. When my mom came to tuck Nicole in, I prayed furiously that she would give me my goodnight kiss, tell me she was proud of me, and ask me if I would be cool enough in this heat. I hoped more than anything that I could feel her loving touch, and tell her yes, I would be just fine, love you too, mom.

“Love you too, mom,” I whispered to myself as she left the room.

Nicole and I, we were as close as siblings could be. On those hot night, we talked in the dark when we couldnít sleep. Pineapple on pizza is very underrated, she would say and I would agree. Can I borrow your Star Wars shirt tomorrow? Why doesn’t mom love me? Have you ever tried coloring with a red pencil on top of a blue one?

My mother was a being very far removed from my existence. My English teacher once asked the class if it was possible to miss something you never had. Can I miss the simple statements I never heard but from others and directed at others, or the hugs that I never shared but instead only observed, or the beaming smiles shining out in audiences that I heard motivated my peers?

My mother hasn’t spoken to me in 11 years. I’m so much older now, and I often wonder how I got my lot in life. My girlfriend and I sometimes go out to a cafe in town, and for whatever reason, the place causes us to reminisce about our childhoods. “What does it feel like now?” My girlfriend always asks. “Do you resent your mother? Do you hate her?”

“I miss her.” I say with a tired smile. “But I guess...I don’t really miss my mother. I miss the mother that seemed close enough to hold for a lifetime, but was never mine.”

My girlfriend and I then sit and sip our coffee in silence. We both know I wonít ever recover from missing my mother, because being at a distance from those you love is never that simple.