I once knew a woman who was fierce. She stood at the helm of her ship every day, dark hair flowing in the ocean breeze ready to face whatever the sea held for her. She manned her ship in the vast open ocean and always managed to keep the small ship from capsizing. The ocean, not always friendly to sea goers, seemed to regard her with respect. She worked hard on her ship and even when waves and storms crashed against the sides of the boat, she held quick to helm in even the darkest skies.
At night, she would stare up at the stars and plan for what was next. The pinhole lights against the stark black background held all the wishes she made every night. She lived like this for longer than anyone knew. Her boat was always moving back and forth across the sapphire seas. Until a storm that not even she could handle rolled in unexpectedly. The bright blue skies shifted into darkness. Try as she might, the boat capsized. She fought and swam but the waves threw her to and fro. Hours later, shaking and worn she somehow floated on the surface of the now still water. She cried, her tears adding to salt in the waters, alone in the ever-moving waves, but she seemed to stay still. She stayed floating above the waters of her sunken ship. And even as the waves tried to shift her toward land, she would not move. She heard them whisper to her, “We will move you to shore”, but she didn’t want to leave her ship. Even when the waves managed to shift her a little closer toward solid ground, she swam back, her heart knowing the location of her beloved sunken ship.
I once knew a woman who was fierce. I once had a mother who was fierce. She blazed fire from within and was always in danger of scorching those around her. She taught me to fight, to be brave, and to never give up. She was the captain of our ship and always managed to steer us to safety. We all looked to her. A small tribe of four aboard a ship, we knew she would never let sink. Until one day, a storm none of us saw coming almost capsized the boat. The storm raged on and we worked hard to keep the vessel afloat. Wet, shivering, and exhausted we realized we had lost one member in the chaos. The last three of the tribe, we tried to keep ourselves safe, while my mother lay down and curled into a corner of the deck and slept. Even after the storm had passed, we tried to wake her, but she simply shook her head and fell back asleep.
We watched as our lost tribe member floated off into the horizon. We mourned. For months we floated aimlessly and took turns crying at the helm not knowing where to go. And my mother? She slept. She stayed pressed against the small space of the deck and slept, and each time we tried to wake her she simply shook her head and smiled.
“I’m just so tired,” she’d say.
We three watched as she stayed in the small space curled into a tight little ball. But, the waves of the ocean kept moving. When we tried to travel to shore, she would wake long enough to point us toward another land, and another. When we asked when we she would wake, when we could travel ashore, she’d nod and smile.
“It’s fine,” she’d say.