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Word to Your Mother: Thank you for the music(als) 

click to enlarge Let the cryfest begin. - CALEB WALSH ILLUSTRATION
  • Caleb Walsh illustration
  • Let the cryfest begin.

Trying to write about love seems a most impossible task, similar to the struggles of those who have tried to describe God or construe meaning from our finite existence amidst the infinite. Humans are limited, our comprehension and language wholly inadequate for characterizing the sacred.

But recently watching Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, has inspired me, so I'ma try.

My Momma and I loved each other more than words could ever say and so we rarely used them to convey our feelings. Mostly, I knew she loved me through deed, from the massive to the mundane. I could feel it in every touch, appointment scheduled, nickname uttered, in every smile, furrowed brow, hug and hum, snicker or smile, dorky dance move and silly eye roll. Her love for me emanated from her soul so resolutely that I had no trouble feeling it within the depths of my own without any declarations. Thus, I learned to display my sentiments in the same way and these forms of expression served us well. However, when she was diagnosed with cancer, I fell apart and my methods of communication crumbled.

As she was slipping through my fingers, I was rendered mute from all the energy diverted into holding myself together. Strangely, the musical Mamma Mia! become a bridge over the insurmountable divide that I was desperate to overcome, another way to cross the stream. Together, we watched — her from the living room hospice bed and me from the couch, tucked under a blanket soaked with tears. We let those sappy songs and scenes wash over us and speak volumes about the special bond between this mother and daughter.

Years later, I assumed seeing the sequel was going to be pretty emotional (and judging from the surround-sound chorus of sniffles, I was hardly alone), but I wasn't ready. I swear, if Rose Laurent could cajole and commandeer a director's imagination to deliver messages, this movie (without giving too much away) would be a perfect summation of her philosophy.

Live a ridiculously full life. Though it will certainly be complete with mistakes, miscommunication, longing, pain and loss, let moments of exuberance always be interwoven. Laugh. Savor the raucous sensuality and succulence of life, the softness that restores a sense of balance to accompany the sadness we accumulate. Make your own way. In a society fixated on money, money, money, a winner-takes-it-all mindset, over valuing the individualist illusion, defy the increasing isolation creep by seeking out genuine connection. Great damage arises from the building-me-a-fence mentality; over-utilized barriers prevent anything challenging from ever entering. When all is said and done, only the love you choose to let in remains.

Rebuild. Be not afraid of creating new family, reach out to those who reach for you, both figuratively, through repeated acts of care, and literally, by asking you to "take a chance on me." Relax. Allow yourself to rely on interconnection, on those who cook for you, who chase you down when you run, who humanely remove bee nests, who listen to podcasts with you, who blunder but always correct, who see you, who text you after parting, continuing the conversation, who follow-up and through, who accept you as you are... Delight in the kitsch and camp, always holding space open in your heart. Keep dancing (queen) and say thank you for the music. Who could live without it? I ask in all honesty. What would life be without a song or a dance? What are we? So... say thank you for your music, for giving it to me.

Inga N. Laurent is a local legal educator and a Fulbright scholar. She is deeply curious about the world and delights in uncovering common points of connection that unite our shared human experiences.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Word to Your Mother"

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