On a break from someone else’s kitchen, my mama spent some time working in a textile mill.
The work wasn’t hard. But it was repetitive.
The pay was good and there was no grease. But the hours were long.
They were inconvenient hours. Family hours. We missed her four evenings a week.
She’d be there in the morning to tell me she loved me and have a good day. And then I’d go out to wait for the bus. I’d let myself in when I got home in the afternoon and wait for Daddy to get home.
Sometimes I’d have a softball game on those days and she wouldn’t be there hollering at me from the bleachers. And even though I hated all her hollering, I missed it when she wasn’t there. Daddy would be there, sometimes, but it wasn’t the same.
I missed her.
After all, it’d been the two of us for so long.
There were nights I’d wake up when I heard her come home. It’d be 11:30 and pitch black outside my bedroom. Pitch black inside my bedroom. Maybe it was the sound of her coming home that woke me. Maybe it was just the feeling that she was there. Finally. Home. My heart complete again.
Sometimes when I’d be laying there awake, wanting so badly to run down the hall and hug her, it was like she sensed that I needed her. She just knew. And I’d hear her footsteps coming toward me.
Instead of jumping out of the bed to greet her, I’d pretend to be asleep.
She’d sit on the side of my bed. Sometimes she’d talk to me and tell me she loved me. Sometimes she’d pray. But most of the time, she was just quiet. Still. Present. She watched me sleep. Listened to me breathe. Like she was centering herself with my peacefulness.
She found the calm in her soul.
I have no idea how many times she actually visited me at night just to see me when she finally got home. I have no idea if she knew that I was only pretending to sleep sometimes.
But I know that in those moments, her affection was shown through her presence. Her presence was her love.
Now, I am a mother. When Joshua senses something is off-balance in his dreamworld, he calls to me. I go in to him and while he is drawing comfort from me I center myself on the peacefulness of his sleep. I find the quiet my soul needs.
My presence in that moment of his need is my love.