85: From Despair to Peace

85: From Despair to Peace

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: For Mom, with Love

From Despair to Peace

Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved.

~Erich Fromm

My mother died at the age of thirty-six, leaving my brother and me, ages seven and six, to be raised primarily by relatives while my father remarried and divorced numerous times. By my early twenties, I had learned that my mother, who had polio as a young child, had not been expected to live past her early twenties.

After the tumultuous upbringing I’d had, I began to question why she chose to have children when she knew she was expected to die young. Why would she knowingly bring us into the world if she knew she would not be able to raise us? Finally, I gathered the courage to ask my aunt, who gave a simple reply: My mother had always defied the doctors’ predictions. She had done so well with her health issues that she thought she would live long enough to raise us.

I remained obsessed with this, however, and I still felt profoundly wounded that my mother had left us in such difficult circumstances. And then the dream came:

There were no words spoken and no thoughts exchanged. There were only feelings. I recall no backdrop to the dream — no pastoral field, no heavenly mansion, no clouds — only the vision of my young, beautiful mother walking toward me. She was free of the severe scoliosis that had plagued her in life. She walked straight and came toward me with her arms open, her kind eyes shining even more so than I remembered, a beautiful smile on her face. She wrapped her arms around me and I returned her warm embrace. We held each other tightly and I could feel the softness of her hair against my cheek.

We simply stood, holding each other in that warmth as an overwhelming feeling of deep, unconditional love washed over me. In that dream moment I knew that my mother never intended to bring me into the world and then leave. She loved me then and she had kept loving me. She would continue to do so as long as I lived.

Thirty-five years ago I awoke from that dream with a profound peace. My despair had vanished. I have never since had a single moment of doubt as to my mother’s hopes for my life. I have lived with the secure knowledge of my mother’s unconditional love. It is the greatest gift she ever shared with me.

~Kimberly Ross

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