I met her one year after I lost my mom. Six months after I had my first son. One month after moving into my new home and the post-partum blues were finally starting to lift. Her name is Alice (well, not really but I'm changing her name for anonymity's sake) and she is roughly the same age as my mom. She has two sons just like I do, although they are now grown with children of their own. Her parents were Portuguese, and I can imagine her childhood might have resembled my mom's, with her Basque grandparents. I believe that everyone comes into our life for a reason, but never have I felt that as strongly as I feel with this particular woman. She doesn't even know this, but she has made such a difference in my life.
Somehow, God (or the Universe, or whatever/whomever you wanna call it) seemed to know that I was alone and searching for a soft place to fall. I had been strong all year--for myself, for my new son, for my brother--and I desperately needed a maternal figure, a mama bear, a strong woman in my life with a sense of purpose and a sense of humor. Through various twists of fate, we ended up moving into our current home, relocating to Concord, and I joined the only community of Concord moms that I could find online--the community of St. B, my local parish. I joined the group as a shy new mom, unsure of what I would find, trying to pick up my mom's threads of faith where she left them and trying desperately to rediscover and redefine my own spirituality. I don't recall the very first time I met Alice, I just know that she stepped right in line with me and treated me as if my mom had told her all about me.
The funny thing is this: I seem to run into Alice at pretty major moments, moments that I'd love to share with a mom, a grandma... For example: Suspicious that I may be pregnant with a second child (my son N, as it turned out!), I ran to the Dollar Store one afternoon to pick up a cheapie preggo test. Guess who I should run into? Alice! I told her what I was there for (I hadn't even told my husband yet!) and she hugged me and cheered and celebrated with me, right there in Aisle 2. Fast forward 8 months. I'm on a tour of my hospital's labor and delivery ward when I hear a woman giving birth in one of the rooms. I hear cheering and shouting and realize that a baby has just been born, and I walk into the waiting lobby, when who should I see? Alice! It was her grandchild who was born the moment I walked by the birthing room on my tour that day. And then there are the regular days--days when I'm feeling spiritually dry, those tendrils of grief sneaking back into my heart, tears springing forth at a song played over the sound system at the grocery store. It never fails--I run into Alice. She smiles, she laughs, she shares a story of her own suffering, and suddenly I feel like I do have a mama bear, and maybe my mom sent her to me.
I haven't shared any of this with Alice, and maybe I should. I know she would understand. She's the type of woman who cries as easily as she laughs, and sharing feelings with her is so natural, so unshameful. She has a wicked sense of humor and a huge heart, and although different from my own mom in many ways, she is someone who would have appreciated the kind of person my mom was. One of these days I'll tell her all this. I'll tell her what a difference she made in my life at such a crucial period. I'll tell her that she makes she laugh on days that I've spent crying. Most importantly, I'll tell her how instrumental her soul has been in healing mine.
3 weeks ago