Thirty years ago it was just you and me, yea there were people with lab coats and scrubs all around us, but all I saw was you, and all you saw was me. I loved you from the moment I knew you were coming and prayed for a girl for the whole nine months. When they placed your swaddled body in my arms at last, I didn’t unwrap you immediately to count fingers and toes, like normal mothers do, I just stared at your beautiful face and thanked God for you, my precious last baby.
My wild child with the uncontrollable hair. The child who talked with her whole body while her eyes sparkled. The two year old who accused me of not understanding her emotions. The eight year old who told me that I wasn’t fun anymore. My accident-prone little klutz, I’m still apologizing for handing down that gene. The thirteen year old with her first broken heart, you knew that you could always cry in front of me and not be ridiculed. The fifteen year old who wondered how I could still love her after a knucklehead decision; Child, I’ve always loved you, unconditionally.
Your life plays out in the pictures taken by my heart. Sitting on the bleachers watching you make it to first base at your softball games. Your ballet recital with you in a lavender tutu and mascara’d lashes so long they dirtied the lens of your eyeglasses. Seeing the little number 12 running up and down the basketball court throwing her entire heart into the game. Learning how to cheer on a swimmer with short bursts of, “Go Go Go”, while you swam all of your high school years finally making it to the county championship. All are moments I see when I close my eyes.
I was proud of you when you decided to make your way to William Patterson instead of the Rutgers, like all the women in our family. A place where you wouldn’t be someone’s little sister anymore. It was a brave and gutsy move from a kid whose steel spine was beginning to show. You still had your flighty moments but those receded into the background when you signed the papers that made you a nursing student. You took my breath away the first time I saw you in your uniform, as much as you hated it.
All the liquids in my body made their way to my eyes at your Pinning Ceremony. There in front of my eyes, wavering in the candlelight, was my baby girl becoming a professional woman. As a class officer, you played a part in the ceremony and my heart overflowed with pride at the woman you had become. A few days later we cheered ourselves hoarse at your university graduation just so you could hear us as they called your name.
Jillian de la Hoz, BSN. Yes, it had a nice ring to it. As a nurse, you have flourished. It is the best career for someone with a huge heart and mounds of compassion. I even accept the scoldings I get from you because they are earned, but also because they are given with love.
Many years ago, you had to write an essay about someone you looked up to. You chose to write about me, so now I turn the tables just to let you know that I absolutely look up to you. Being chosen to be your mother has been my greatest joy.