For nine days my mother traveled out beyond her known life, beyond consciousness, beyond food or water, seeing or speaking. It was a long crossing to the other side. My brother, David, and I sat with her, held her hand, sang to her, made amends, told her it was okay to go, our love secure. We wondered aloud why she held on.
And then, on David’s birthday, his daughter came from far away, blooming with seven months of baby-love. We put my mother’s hand on her granddaughters swollen womb, and witnessed the river of generations passing through her. With her veined, withered hand, she bestowed her benediction upon the ripening life yet to come. And then, that afternoon, while we all ate birthday cake on the porch, she slipped away.
Motherhood is a powerful river that passes through us, in blood or in spirit, each thundering span of it wanting to bless those just beyond the next bend. In that was my mother’s peace.
Motherhood joins not only generations, but women everywhere, so that mothers of children abducted in Nigeria and slaughtered in Kenya and buried in Nepal all weep for their children lost, and weep for one another’s children, and work with body and soul for those who yet live. Motherhood is fierce. The river of love is unstoppable.
ibu is another word for mother or dear auntie, teacher or mentor - it is a word for any woman who flows like a river of passion and purpose. ibu is the essence of all of us, mothers or not, who join the blessing of the future, who put our hands upon it’s swollen hope, and before we leave this place, one way or another, bestow our own thundering grace on those who will come after us.
To all fierce mothers, everywhere,
all the best,
Susan Hull Walker