She calls me, breathless.
“It was amazing,” she panted. “I loved it. I was made for this, Ima. I need it.”
Patched up by the threads trailing behind her gathering into a seam sewn with every fall and knotted with each triumphant rise, my lungs fill.
My hands slow their spasms. My head sweeps the day’s anxious pacing to the place in my brain that archives these moments in memory where they no longer hold me by the throat.
I had been unsure for so long.
She was my rainbow baby.
When I grew her in my womb, I stopped the world to keep her safe. I could not trust my body, it had betrayed me before. I slowed time, went still, and waited. Month after month, I pushed down my swelling heart, locking it up so it could not get hurt. I would not dream, refused to take any steps further than the one right before me.
And then she burst into the world.
I had never seen the colors she threw at me, the way she blended the lines and filled the spaces with depth and layers. One on top of the other, her shades of joy spun me around and changed me.
But light does not color darkness. Beneath it all, the part of me written into her code lay dormant, waiting to pounce.
It found a moment of vulnerability and doubt and dug deep into her translucent skin.
Oh, how it hurt.
It strangled her with the rope I had never been able to shake off my neck. She couldn’t explain it to me, the only one who could really understand.
“I know,” I would say, imploring her to let me in.
“NO! No, you don’t.” Screaming with rage, she’d pull away. “You’ll never know what it’s like to be me.”
Punching my gut from my past stood 10-year-old me.
“I know,” I’d whisper to her through the years. “I know exactly how it feels to be you.”
So I tiptoed around a ride through hell and ecstasy, hoping she’d get what I never could find. Her voice rose and fell with each curve, gathering speed as it steadily spread the black between each vibrant color.
Flashes of pain seeped into her notes. It was haunting and beautiful and the scariest sound a mother can hear.
My prayers swept around her tormented thoughts, her twirling emotions, her bright overwhelming light, into the vastness of a universe I feared could not see her.
Just one little corner, one place to lay her head down… please let her feel like she belongs.
Her song grew strong, too strong. It began to surround her and swallow her with its need to be heard.
It could no longer be contained.
Softly, with the gentlest touch on her fragile little back, I steered her towards the spotlight.
And then she stepped onto the stage, a solid black ground raised for the world to see. Her eyes blinked, her heart stilled, and she poured out across the place she was meant to be.
Curled up at home where I could not rush to her side, I waited for my star to rise.
“I was made for this, Ima. I need it.”
“I know,” I say to her and to me and to all the times we didn’t believe it and all the times we won’t be comforted by it. “I understand.”
And I do.