by Grace O’Connor ’22
She looked down at the picture longingly as she walked down the beach. Her fingers wiped off the thin layer of dust as they brushed over the creases on the photo. Her smile was big and bright and her eyes had this twinkle of hope. Looking at the photo of when she was in college gave her nostalgia. A smile streched across her face and her eyes slowly filled up with tears as she remembered the day it was taken. She would give up anything to be back in that moment of liberation and pure contentment.
Her three kids were mostly grown up and battling the real world on their own, while her husband seemed to spend more time in the office than paying attention to her. She’s remarkable to say the least but doesn’t see it herself. She’s an incredible mother, and the most gregarious person, but she carries around a burden that weighs her down. Even with her family she sometimes feels all alone. She feels as if the walls are closing in on her, slowly but surely. She does not completely understand the world around her because of its absence of authenticity compared to when she grew up. Growing up, her life was simple and it made sense to her. She had always liked the seemingly insignificant aspects of life, which she approached with her big heart. The man she married was completely different; he was a man who did not prefer a simple life but one that was fast-paced and regular. He had a big personality, and an unforgettable sense of humor. When they got married, they bought a small house in the town he grew up in and had their three children. Having these three children made the woman choose family over her over job so she could raise them.
This decision came to her easily because it would never cross her mind to ask her husband to give up his father’s legacy. Any parent would say raising children is not easy but this woman did it effortlessly, with a smile on her face. Her children all grew up to be determined, hardworking individuals who got to the places they did with many bumps along the way. They became who they are because of her. Through every bump, she was there to alleviate the drop. Through every track meet, math exam, spelling bee, her encouragement was tangible. She made you feel as if you could do anything that you set your mind to no matter the circumstance. Although every mother is special in her own way, this woman put every ounce of energy into putting everyone else’s needs above her own. Her selflessness is palpable and moving.
The warmth of the sun started to sink into her skin as she closed her eyes and wished to stay in that moment on the beach. The moment when she had no worries, did not have to think about the future. She was about to lose an integral part of her identity and she still did not know how to cope with this loss. Her youngest child is headed off to college tomorrow. Her daughter is her rock, her best friend. The woman felt she had lost her worth. She would no longer be a full-time mother, she would not have her children to explain all the things she did not understand, and most importantly, she felt that she would not get the love she needed to keep living everyday anymore.
She watched as the wave in front of her was sucked back into the never-ending water. As much as she wanted to go back to the past, she understood that every day has a purpose. Her unconditional love for the people around her is what keeps her going even if she does not get the same love in return. Her internal beauty illuminates far beyond what her eye can see. She gives her heart to the world with no expectations and no limitations.