As I joyfully await the surprises promised by my family in tribute of the one day that is dedicated to the ceaseless, often thankless other 364 days of never ending work in service to our children, I personally plan to milk that cussin’ day for all it’s worth. In addition…. to all my fellow exhausted, ignored, oh shit I’m late again, unthanked, “OMG mom STOP you’re embarrassing me”, hug me-stop hugging me!!!!!, to YOU my unsung sisters on the front line…. may I suggest you do the same. It is an honor to be serving along side you.
As I started thinking about what I wanted to share with you this week, a memory kept coming up to the forefront of my mind and I have not been able to shake it.
I was 18years old in New York City living in Brooklyn with my mom while I went to The Juilliard School in Manhattan. The training there lent itself to extremely long hours, so most nights I would finally get on the subway to go home around 11pm. On one of those nights standing on the 42nd St. subway platform, awaiting the No. 2 train back into Brooklyn, then a no-man’s-land where none of my classmates dared venture, that I have a most profound encounter. I stood on the almost deserted platform, sparsely peopled by the odd traveler or two, anonymously and guardedly checking the tunnel in hopes that the train, while guardedly scanning my surroundings, senses on hyper alert for the ever present evil in the stones and bones of that city. A young woman, not much older than I, entered my safe-zone on the platform to stand close by. She caught my attention and was deemed “safe” because she was quietly cradling a very tiny, newborn baby.
Secretly admiring her baby from afar, I felt comforted by her presence, for now we were two young women traveling alone at that hour. I hoped she too would take solace in my being there. We smiled at each other as a show of benevolent recognition. Standing a bit closer to each other, I could now see her beautiful sleeping baby. I stood there smiling and silently admiring her newborn, grateful for the distraction on this cold winter’s night, awaiting the New Lots Train into Brooklyn.
After a few minutes of kind words and delicate intimacy as only a baby can engender between strangers, the young woman said, “Can you please hold my baby for me?” Without thinking, I said, “Sure,” as she passed the bundled, sleeping infant into my arms. It was so… small. With the warmth of its little body nuzzled against mine, looking into its little face, I was utterly mesmerized by the Grace, the Light and pure Goodness that all babies radiate. I’m not sure how many minutes passed before I was able to look up to see if Mom was finished doing what she needed to do. When I did I realized, the young woman was halfway down the subway platform and starting up the stairs. She was not walking quickly. Instead, she just seemed to be drifting away. Panicked, I shouted to her, “Hey! Your baby!” Distractedly, she turned and said, “Oh”. As the train thundered into the station, she walked back to me, took the baby from my outstretched arms, turned and drifted away again.
I boarded the train. The doors closed behind me. The train left the station. Standing at the window, the concrete pillar speeding by in a blur, I searched the deserted platform for that ghost mother and her child. They were gone.
It is now almost 40 years later and my heart still aches for that baby and for the woman I assume was its mother. I also still wish now what I wished for then.
As the train tunneled into the darkness, my head spinning with confusion and shock, a numbing dread began pooling in my gut. Something in me then wanted to scream “STOP! Stop this train! Let me out”! I wanted to jump onto the tracks, stumble my way back to the light at the end, claw my way up over the edge on to that platform to find that desolate, addicted, shell of a mother. I wanted to again stand before her with outstretched arms and say, “I’ll take her, I’ll take him!!!!”
To mothers everywhere, God Bless us. God Forgive us. God grant us Grace.
And above all else….Blessed Be Our Children.
Lovely Mother’s Day to All.