We have had some ups and downs, haven't we mamma bear? From heartbreaks to low grades to bad hair days to school rejections, to falling in love and getting accepted into UCF to getting this writing position with Odyssey, you have been there for me through everything.
You have said that I focus too much on the negative. You're probably right, I most likely do. That's not to say that I don't remember the good times. I remember them vividly.
I remember curling in the bed tight against your side as you cracked open an old favorite or new adventure. Opening up "Wild Child" or "There's An Alligator Under My Bed" and rereading it all throughout the week until it was time to bring it back to the library to "pick whatever you want Isa," which meant you read a lot of "Wild Child" for me, and a lot of "There's An Alligator Under My Bed." I read the book back to you, upside down and backward, but I remembered every word and every second of the story, enough to tell it back to you. I remember a few years later, I was sitting in our backyard on our hammock, Florida winter just starting to get cold, a small fire going and hot cocoa in our hands, each with our own books, I enjoyed the company more than anything, especially with the song of the birds.
I remember you singing lullabies, the kind my classmates would never hear, late into the night. How you knew when I was shaken by a nightmare, too scared to climb out of bed, too worried to wake you, I could hear you come opening the door, ready with sleepy warm arms and a soft voice ready to soothe with a song and a kiss.
I remember how you helped me wash tigey after an unfortunate adventure in the garden, the most important of all my stuffed animals, without any cause for worry. How you let me watch as she spun around the machine and had my tiny hands help her put it in the dryer.
I remember the day you found my razors. How you looked when you sat me down at the kitchen table. Your two wide eyes and pale face. The way you whispered. How scared you looked. I didn't react well back then – I was so angry. For years after I was still angry. But had you not stopped me then, would I be here now?
It's funny, I never thought about how you felt finding those razors. How I made you feel then. I'm sorry about that. I'm so sorry.
But the truth, Mamma bird, is that you saved me in more ways than just taking those razors away.
I don't think I would have survived middle school or high school without you. You made me believe in myself. You were the only person who thought I was smart enough to make it. Smart enough to go to college. And now I am at UCF.
It was you who gave me my love of reading, my adoration for stories. Since you were an English Major as well, you instilled respect for the power of words – one that has lasted my entire life.
This is the first year we're not celebrating together, but while you celebrate your mom in Brazil, I am celebrating you here and sending my love to you because you are the greatest mom I could ever have had. I adore you and everything you have done for me.