Track 78 — Where the Streets Have No Name

A while back, when I was blogging a little more regularly, I wrote of faith. (See Track 73 – Faith) Faith, I said, is a belief in something without proof. It is an intangible force that gives us the strength to push forward during the most difficult of times. Today, I find myself clinging to that same faith and I pray that you, Mom, have it in you to do the same.

Dear Mom,

As I sat beside your hospital bed last Saturday morning, peering at you from over the side-safety-rail, I couldn’t help but think how cruel life can be. As Dad continues to say, it’s heartbreaking. Seeing you laying there curled up in your hospital gown, so fragile, so weak, was a scene for which I was not fully prepared. A salty moisture began to coat my eyes and tears began to form. I didn’t cry though, Mom. I held back my sorrow, fearing that my teardrops might steal away the faith to which I was so desperately holding on. The hope that you were simply on ‘vacation,’ and that you weren’t completely gone. I swallowed hard and pushed my sadness deep into the lump which still sits at the back of my throat. A stone that began to grow the first time I saw you in this state. Head shaven. Eye sunken. Energy stolen. A sight, knowing how strong and independent you once were, that shook me and my faith to the breaking point. I had to find a way to believe that you were coming back from this. Seeing you there, that morning, however, made it hard.

And how could it not? I mean, how could I be there doing what I was? How could you need me to be doing it? Helping you get to and go to the bathroom. Helping your get your meals ready and watching you fumble as you ate. Clarifying, constantly clarifying, what you were doing and why you were doing it. Reminding you not only about where your grandkids were, but who they were. Quizzing you about names, dates, numbers and events. How could I be there doing that for you? You?

You. The woman who changed my first diaper and washed my soiled sheets. You who kept my napkin folded neatly on my lap and my elbows well off the table. You who never had a problem telling me what to do, when to do it and how long it needed to be done. In no uncertain terms. You knew. You, Mom. The woman who remembered every date, every name and never forgot a face. You who sat with Scott and I before tests and while we wrote reports. You, Mom. You. How could I be there doing what I was doing for you?

And yet, I was.

I was sitting there. Heartbroken. Waiting to push you. To help you. Wanting you to struggle harder to keep anything trapped in your memory for more than a moment. Your room number. My phone number. Any number. I sat there, willing you to fight harder to reclaim the independence which was so suddenly and unexpectedly ripped from your spirit. I needed to see you improve.

And I did. You did. You made it to the bathroom. You used your knife and fork. For moments stacked together you knew where you were going and what you were doing. You rolled off the names of your grandkids and where they lived. You retained the name of your doctor and even the number to your room. You made progress. You began to take baby steps towards recovery, towards going home. In the week that I sat by your bedside, every heartbreaking instance seemed to be matched with a tiny step forward. Small baby steps that have helped me to maintain my faith. Something which you seem to have misplaced.

You explained to me on numerous occasions, Mom, the frustration that you felt. The sadness that overwhelmed you as you stared through a blank fog of mixed-up confusion. You said that you lost the ability to focus and completely understand your surroundings. It was as though you were trapped under a wet blanket of uncertainty and timid fear. You told me once that you that you were beaten. I cannot and will not agree. Not for a moment. Not you.

You, my mother, are strong. You are independent. At your core. In your heart. You have not changed. There is no denying that you are damaged; however, do not believe for a second that you are broken. You aren’t. Listen to me as I tell you to pick up your feet and fight through the sluggish fog that surrounds you. Don’t shuffle. Push. Believe in yourself as we all do, and understand that each small victory is a triumph in the making. Don’t for a second think that your baby steps are anything but amazing. You are in a battle and nothing is quick. Nothing is easy. But for you. For you, it is possible. All you need to do is to believe. All you need to do is struggle. It will come back. Have faith.

Do you remember the present I gave you for Mother’s Day when I was in grade 8? (Or 9) It was a record single. I wonder if you can remember the song. The band who sang it. Think for a moment before you continue. Struggle to remember. I don’t think that I ever told you this, but I ‘found’ that single in a video arcade at the mall a few days before. Instead of leaving it there, or handing it into the coin clerk, I silently picked it up and slid it beneath my jacket to take home. Not honest, I know, but this find couldn’t have come at a better time. I had no money and I wanted to give you something for your birthday. This isn’t a lesson that I would teach my children; however, I can’t help (hope) but think that I found that record for a reason. That that gift was more for now than it was for then. Maybe it’s the title. Possibly the lyrics. Or maybe it’s just one more piece of the past that will help bring you back to the present.

Where the Streets Have No Name was the song, U2 the band. Both were introduced to us the first time you put the needle to that vinyl, and a love for both became another bond that we would share. I wonder if you are listening to this song as you read my words. I hope you are. The music. The lyrics. Both seem to hit a chord. Maybe they will be the spark that you need. Not to help you remember. But rather, to help you ignite. I pray that they will be another catalyst that helps to set fire to the woman who lays dormant within. I know you are there. I believe you have the strength. Now it’s on you.

You, mom.

You are still there. Believe. Struggle. Stay positive. Have faith. You are there. You are all there. Listen to my words, listen to your song. Listen. Just listen.

I love you.

Where the Street Have No Name Youtube link


Track 65 – Just The Way You Are

Growing up, I don’t think ever I grasped the significance of Mother’s Day. Scratch that. I know I didn’t. I understood that it was the day set aside for children to express their thanks and appreciation towards their moms and I did my best to do so by making hand-shaped cards, writing cutesy poems and buying pretty flowers. Nevertheless, in my heart I couldn’t help but wondering why? Surely my mother knew that I loved and appreciated her. I told her so every day. I also thanked her for every little thing she did for and gave to me with hugs, kisses and the occasional note. Consequently, I didn’t see the need to have another day to celebrate something that we celebrated every March 24th – her birthday.

My problem (if that’s what you can even call it) was that I was blessed with a mother who devoted herself to her family. Everything she did was for us. My sense of appreciation was therefore stunted by the status quo that had been established for me at birth. I had no reason to even consider the amount of hours that my mother spent doing such things as cooking, sewing costumes and helping me with school reports because she had always done so. What I focused on were the tangible end results: the delicious meals, the amazing Halloween outfits and the stellar grades that I received on my assignments. I thanked my mom for every one of these things immediately and affectionately but what I didn’t do was to recognize the effort that went into making it all happen.

Now that I am on the other side of the family unit working with Rachel to raise our little girl, I have finally grown to appreciate the time and effort that goes into being a mother. I see all that Rachel does for Siaya; the extra time and care that she puts into such things as picking out and buying new clothes, driving her to and from different classes, and helping her work through homework problems and assignments. Rachel is to Siaya as my mother was to me – devoted – and I have learned that it is essential to remind her just how important she is not only to Siaya, but also to the family.

Just The Way You Are, by Bruno Mars, is the song Siaya sang for Rachel two years ago on Mother’s Day. I changed the words a little to fit the occasion and we worked on it together for a couple of weeks as a Mother’s Day gift. As I sat and listened to Siaya croon our newly written lyrics and watched the tears roll down Rachel’s cheeks, I suddenly became acutely aware of the significance of Mother’s Day. Rachel’s quiet sobs echoed the fact that moms, like the kids they adored, need at least one day where their family’s devotion is directed solely at them. Mother’s Day is that day. Although mommies do what they do for nothing more than the smile they see on their child’s face, it is sometimes nice to feel the tender warmth of reciprocity.

To the two mothers in my life, I say with love, respect and undying gratitude, “Happy Mother’s Day!” Thank you both for being the heartbeat of my family! Neither of you are defined by your role as mother, you simply give definition to the role! I love you both, just the way you are.

Just The Way You Are youtube link