This Woman, My Daughter

From seemingly out of nowhere, my youngest daughter asks me if Jesus really brought dead people back to life. I pause — there’s been no recent death in our family — before I say that might be possible.

What are miracles, anyway?

My daughters are two of the billions of people who have walked the planet. This morning, I woke thinking of my older daughter, 19 now, and the conversation she and I and my friend had last night, over dinner and knitting and the cats who played with the feathery toys my friend brought. My daughter is grown up now. Always headstrong, she’s plowed into passion and passion’s heartbreak.

The cliché for mothers is to mourn the loss of the tender, little years; this young woman and I share a whole remembered world together — just she and I — like the afternoon in her stroller when she was two and I pushed her through a thousand tedious errands in Montpelier, while she held three buttons in the shape of balloons — pink, yellow, blue — in her tiny fist. I had promised to sew those on her favorite dress. Her younger sister wore that same dress, with those same three balloon buttons.

Or the afternoon in a thunderstorm when she was four, wearing her favorite friend’s t-shirt with a frog on the front, she leaned over the porch and pulled out the neck of the t-shirt so a river of water from the roof poured down her face and body. Laughing: full of radiant joy.

Billions and billions. Over and over. There’s nothing simple about any of this. Not childhood, not growing up, not making a woman or a man’s life. And yet, here we are.

…. it ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love.

— Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love


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