A wet bed. My small cabin. The middle of Costa Rica’s thick jungle. Rain leaks through the roof onto the end of my white comforter, leaving a stained red pool from the dark wood above. An active volcano smolders just below me, less than five kilometers away, but one simmers even closer.
I’ve just finished The Paris Wife about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. It has left me feeling lonely and depressed. The most beautiful love can simply dissolve into an ocean of our past, leaving only our memories as confusing reminders of what we once had, but lost.
What is it about love that changes so quickly? Just two hours ago I was laughing over a beautiful dinner in a fine restaurant, with the two people I love most in the world. My daughter and my mother. Suddenly everything shifted. It took one simple question from her to shake our trip from paradise into anger and chaos.
“What do you believe about God, Mom?”
Warning bells go off in my head. This question seems to simmer below the surface of her mind, but whenever she asks, it always erupts into a full on argument. “You know what I believe baby girl. Nothing’s changed.”
Then it turns ugly as she begins slinging judgements and questions at me like volcanic rocks, the tone of her voice boiling over, making it perfectly clear she wants to challenge me.
“Do you read the bible? Do you study? If I didn’t know you, I wouldn’t know you were a Christian. What’s the last spiritual book you read?”
You don’t know me is the first thought to cross my mind. All I can do is look at her with astonishment and think to myself, Really? You want to do this here? On our beautiful girls’ vacation? It all becomes too clear at this point that she once again wants to climb up on her father’s wobbly soapbox of organized and indoctrinated Christianity. I stood up from the table angry at my daughter. I was worried I would make a scene if I stayed.
She can’t stand the fact that I don’t like church. I believe in God and many aspects of the bible, but I just can’t bring myself to swallow every single word, and more than that, I don’t trust doctrine. Damnit if I haven’t tried! I tried so hard I almost lost my soul!
I wish she was willing to hear my story without considering it as an attack on her own faith, and instead as my own journey. But she is young. And I am too old to lie and tell her what she so desperately wants to hear. So we are destined to be friends and enemies until she realizes that life is not perfectly packaged.
It’s a heartbreaking thing as a mother to have a daughter who is so afraid to listen, who needs the world to fit together perfectly. I remember doing the same thing to my own mother. I was angry at her too when I was younger. Somehow my chaotic world was all her fault. She wasn’t able to protect me. Maybe that’s what my daughter blames me for now. I don’t know?
I was mad at her for being so rude and loud in the restaurant. Now she is mad because I couldn’t just stop being mad. We are too much alike. But I love her, always will, just as my mother has always loved me.
I love my daughter and I am glad she is strong, she will need it. Watching her grow up is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I just keep praying that my faith and love will at least loosely hold us together and keep her fear at a minimal simmer until the day she really wants to hear my story. I have to remind myself that today I am not what I should be or everything I could be, but because I am loved as I am, I will love her in return, just as she is.
For now I will pray that God can salvage this trip so we can enjoy the beautiful pieces of one another before returning home, and that he protects the potential of our relationship so it doesn’t melt away in frustration.
Tonight even though I’m angry and hurt, I must set that aside. Because love is more important.