Love in the Open Hand
My relationship with my mother could best be described as “difficult” when she was alive. But there was nobody better to have on your side during an emergency that Mary Everett Little-Vance.
“Nobody’s heart is broken, is it?” she might say. No broken bones. No rain coming through the roof. That we had managed to survive a thing with our hearts intact was what really mattered. Whatever “tragedy” befell us–mostly dealing with worldly security issues–Mama would point to the fact that we hadn’t lost anything truly worth our tears.
(When we were school age, the “crisis” could totally be of our own making but she would defend us first and ask questions later. She might not love what you did but she never stopped loving you.)
To breathe and to love. There’s stuff to want, material stuff, sure, but when you really boil it down, I mean at the end of the day, I think Mama was onto something.
Mary Everett Little-Vance died in February 2014. Not only do I miss her every day but I think I even “get” her a little more every day. I’m sure she’d have something good to say about “regret,” too, so I won’t try to go rearranging the past. I suppose it’s helpful that my mother never became frozen or static in death and continues to evolve as I do.
This verse was among her favorites:
“Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring to you, calling out as children do:
“Look what I have! — And these are all for you!”
—Edna St. Vincent Millay