Submission for “This I Believe”
My mother and I traded gifts on the day that I was born. It was a cold January day, fifty years ago. My aquatic cocoon burst. Amniotic fluid gushed forth from my mother’s womb, mapping the route through which I was to follow. We suffered together with each painful contraction. Finally, she pushed me forth. The doctor yanked me free and handed me off to the nurse. Fluid was suctioned from my nose and mouth. The nurse slapped me, forcing oxygen to replace water. I cried my first tears. I do not remember my birth, but I know that it was painful for both my mother and me. Our shared pain was the first part of the gifts my mother and I exchanged that day.
My mother received me, her vagina sutured and sore. As she pulled my tiny misshapen head to her breast, joy flooded her heart. I nuzzled down to her warm familiar scent and the pain of birth became a faint impression from the past. Our shared joy was the second half of our gifts.
When I am stricken by life’s unpredictable nature, I use my mother’s gift. At nineteen years old, I watched a friend die in a violent automobile accident. My mother’s gift saved me. Death seized my father. There the gift waited. Lovers lost, weaved their painful threads. My mother’s gift held true. Although I do not remember the day that I was born, I know of my mother gift. My mother gave to me knowledge —the knowledge that with each painful journey, joy awaits on the other side. My gift to my mother on the day I entered this world? — A reminder of the joy that follows each and every painful passage.
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