The Strongest Force Of AllI knew it. I felt it. As soon as that last bell rang I knew something was wrong. It felt wrong the whole way home as the I walked in the noisy streets, but I was incapable of pinpointing what it was. That changed as I turned the door handle to my house and the door swung open to reveal my mother, the strongest person I have ever met, her face strewn with tears. Now I knew that something awful had happened to her; something bad enough to bring her to cry and not shy away from me as I gazed worriedly at her.
I entered the dim room, kneeled by my mother’s side on the cold hardwood floor and waited for her to gather the strength to tell me what put her in such a state. Finally, she was able to explain herself in a sobbing but still comprehensive manner.
“Honey, the one thing I live for is to protect you. It is my job and the thought of this duty has inspired me and made me determined to endure and overcome any and all of the challenges that this world has set out for me. You know that I have been sick for a while, and the doctors have told me that there is no longer a possibility of a cure for me. I know that this is going to be hard for you, but I need you to understand that my strength will continue on with you and you will live a wonderful life. Promise me that you will do that, that you’ll lead the best life you can.”
She looked deep into my tearing eyes, and I stared back at her. Her face now becoming a blur as the tears continued to well up into my eyes.
“How was this possible, it must be a mistake. I can’t do this; I can’t bear through this. Maybe she is strong, but I am not; not enough to hear this morbid talk.” I thought
I rose from my knees and started to walk away from this cause of intense grief. So many feelings rushed into me, I didn’t know what to make of them. Was it regret? Was it the regret of not having been a better daughter, of not having been by her side every moment possible to help her, or regret of not having told her I loved her and how important she was to me at every chance I got? I kept walking, trying to block out my mother’s voice calling my name. Or maybe it was anger. I was angry that she would leave me behind so abruptly to survive on my own. How could I go to college, marry, have kids or simply grow up without my mother by my side? But in the end it was the feeling of helplessness that overcame me and led me to distance myself from her.
Suddenly I stopped. I realized my mother too was feeling helpless. She who had always been the strongest was now unable to persevere and come out of it successfully. Even as the courageous woman that she was, she couldn’t defeat the force of nature. I spun around and ran back towards the wooden chair upon which she sat, collapsing into her consoling arms.
“I’m so sorry Mom, and I do promise, I promise to lead the best life I can.”
We held that embrace and I never wanted to let go of her warm comforting body. As my arms wrapped tightly around her, I thought: it is as if all her life she had been the strongest, like the best athlete. Now, she was weak, all the pressure was on her and she tried her best but despite that she was defeated. She had always been the strong protective mother who listened to my problems and would defend me no matter what. When she lost her job and struggled to find a new one, she worked days and nights searching to make sure that she could support me financially. When my father left her for another woman and another family, she never lost composure and never let me see the depression that she was experiencing. But now it was evident: she still wanted to fight, but her body would not permit it. Her skin was flushed; her hair was dull, and her previously wonderfully fitted wardrobe now hung loose on her thinning body. Then I thought of my promise: would a promise be good enough? If nature defeated her wasn’t it possible that even if I tried my best, that I too would be defeated or that I would fail?
As if my mother had read my mind she said: “Sweetheart the only thing anyone can do is try. All I’m asking you to do is try. Now for me, my best was insufficient but we can hope you’ll be more fortunate. I have no regrets, but I just want you to keep leading your life. Don’t grieve for too long. Emma honey, live your life without regret.”
Nothing, nothing could have prepared me for this. I had heard tales of friends experiencing the deaths of loved ones, but reality did not compare to the feelings of sympathy towards others. I listened intently and knew that I would never forget her words or the beating of her heart that I felt as I pressed up against her chest. I knew that I would forever keep my promise and be the strongest force that I could, hoping that it would be strong enough.
I would never let go of my mother, Jane Noël, the strongest woman of all, and would never doubt that she was indeed the strongest. She was stronger than nature, than life, and although she might have lost the battle, she won the war. Her legacy will continue to live in me forever.
[TABLE OF CONTENTS, LHS CLASS OF 2009 EDITION]
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