I’ve been in love twice before, and though I am a heterosexual female, the greatest love in my life is a woman. As much as I swoon over the honorable Prince Hector of Troy and as much as the intelligence of a man still takes my breath away, my momma is the breath in my lungs. No other love could be this visceral, this irrevocably unconditional or selflessly enduring.
This curly-haired, fair-skinned, five-foot-even, Spanish-Chinese-Tsalagi (Cherokee)-Pinay is my safe shelter from life’s raging thunderstorms. She is the steady whisper of hope in a life filled with the din of trials. She is the kiss on the forehead and a lullaby goodnight in an insomniac dawn. She carried me in her womb for nine months (and the extra week I stayed, just chillin’ in her uterus), held me to her chest and hummed me to sleep as a baby, and to this day, gives me hugs for no reason other than love. After my da died, I’ve seen her cry herself to sleep over hurtful words uttered by my da’s side of the family. It wasn’t just da, our stocks, or savings that we lost. Some friends and family, too, because there are those who equate worth with bank account balances. Once a sheltered and privileged housewife, momma took two minimum wage jobs and swallowed insults from people—including her sister—about how the mighty had fallen, and how “degrading” it is to be an educated woman working for an hourly wage. Although I put myself through university with scholarships, it is because of my momma that I graduated. It may be my name on the diploma, but it is rightfully hers. She is the reason why, although I find most ceremonies boring, I sat in the morning summer sun one June day listening to speeches and in the afternoon, gave a speech of my own. It was--always is--for her.