When I was young, and still believed that any conflict could be resolved with a “but,” I said things like, “but it’s not fair,” “but she got to do it,” “but I didn’t do anything wrong.”
It took years. On the playing fields. In the gym. On graded papers. During doctor visits. Within goodbyes to homes and family. I butted my way through it all. And nothing changed.
I suppose it was another gift from my mother that got me through. She gave me the gift of “and.” When I was sick of and sorry for myself after another surgery, she shook her head yes, “and we’re going to the mall.” When we would get lost, wandering without GPS or any sense of direction, and I would panic that no one would ever find us, “yes,” she said, “and look, there’s Herbergers!”
When Thanksgivings didn’t gather — “and look, we have bagels!”
When Sundays were too long — “and one day, we’ll have too much happiness to fill our days.”
We didn’t always have the power to make problems disappear, yet we had the magic of “and.” “And we have books. And we have music. And we have each other.”
With that love, we had everything.
The world is still trying to learn what my mother always knew. (I hope we’re still trying to learn.) Daily, I hear on the news the justification of horrors, from people and countries, all under the guise of “but they did this…” What if we looked within. Acknowledged the truth. And responded with kindness. And love. Looked around and said, “And we have all this. We have each other.”
So much to question. And the answer is still, and again, love.