I’m an otter. It’s not something I hide. Basically, my brother said he’s always thought of me as an otter. Imagine my surprise when I found a Native American zodiac—and discovered that I actually AM an otter. I would’ve picked something different for myself—like...a ferocious lion—but it wasn’t in the cards.
Anyway, I had a rough week. I’m in the stage of this sickness where I’ve started reevaluating things I’ve already reevaluated. I have a list of shoulda coulda wouldas that stretches to the moon and back. I’ve worried that maybe I should’ve read to the kids longer each day or taught them how to play the piano. (Mother’s Day always brings this out too.) I should’ve never gone fake baking (‘cause stage 4 melanoma). I should’ve gone to church more—or even less. I should’ve eaten better and been more resolute with many things. And most of all, I should NOT have been such a silly, fun-loving otter.
I cooked with my youngest daughter last night. And suddenly it came to me that I should talk in a British accent and pretend she was a contestant on my cooking show. I’m still not sure how, but as she showed her culinary prowess, we cut up waaaay too many carrots.
“We better not burn these!” I said, all hoity-toity. “To win or not to win. THAT—my little friend—IS the question.”
She sneaked off after we popped everything in the oven, and I sat at the table, smiling. I could still hear my little girl’s giggles as we chopped and mixed. That was when I started thinking about how maybe—just maybe—it’s okay that I’m so silly. There’s a time and place for everything and a need for all kinds of people in this world, right? And just when I was finally coming to terms with who I am, that’s when I got a message from my 19-year-old.
“I got a tattoo today!”
“Yay! I love you. Now I have you tattooed on me!”
And then—the same gorgeous kid who actually shaved her head when I lost my hair...that same sparkling light who’s been there every second since I got cancer. That same precious kid who made me a mother...sent me the most surprising picture. On her arm, right in plain sight, is a beautiful otter.
You see, sometimes it takes the acceptance of the people we love most, for us to see the beauty and value in ourselves. I was starting to get there on my own, but it sure felt nice for my daughter to simply love me for me—the same way I love her for exactly who she is. I’m so proud of that kid. She gives me peace and the courage to let go of the past. I’ve done the best I can, and at least for her, that’s been good enough.
I’m thinking about making a list of people I want to call—to tell them how much they mean to me. What my daughter did for me, well...I’d like to do that for others too. Ruby, you are such an example of kindness and goodness in my life. I love you sooo much!
So, if you’re reading this—and curious—I attached the chart. What’s your animal?