“When did you realize you were your mother’s clone?” – old friend of mine on Facebook upon viewing this picture
Yeah. THE picture. The one burned in my brain at the thought of my mom. The one that I made drawings of her based off of then presented them to her as a gift. What torture it must have been for her. That I held her in that frozen vision of herself from so many years ago. The image of herself that she had long since lost. That she yearned for. Lamented. I didn’t understand. I was busy worshipping her. All I could see was her beauty. Inside and out. The most selfless, loving, giving, thoughtful, mannered, suppressed person I had ever known. I couldn’t understand that she could not see what I saw. And surely everyone else saw. Except my Dad. He had jerk-vision and I was certain he couldn’t see her anymore. (And back then… just like that I dismissed it and attributed it to old age…. man. If I’d just paid attention.)
I used to be so aware of us twinning. Me and my mom. More so because EVERYONE kept telling us. But I sincerely couldn’t understand how these people saw that gorgeousness in me. And now since mommy’s been gone, I struggle even harder to see it. She was so polished. So classically beautiful. Would have rivaled Dorothy Dandrige, Lena Horne AND Diahanne Carroll if offered up for comparison. I’m merely a shadow. A faint xerox you can barely make out.
I can’t see what others see. I struggle to see the connection between Athena and I readily acquiescing to folks who “understand” that she is just a light skinned version of Earl.
I have never been able to see myself in others in this way. But maybe it’s best for me now as I prepare to fashion myself into someone I have never met. Morph into the real me. Maybe to me she doesn’t look like anyone else, but I pray that to my daughter she doesn’t eventually look like broken dreams and compromises. She should look like a fighter. They are typically not pretty. They are bloodied and bruised and hard on the eyes. They don’t always say the right thing, but they say what they mean. And ultimately they put their survival and success first. They don’t wait for others to champion them.
I pray this is what you’d hope I would learn on my own by you staying silent about this path, mom. I went the long way. But I think I am closer than ever now.