The Best Kind of Infection (Love)

by  Christian A. Brown  |  May 10, 2015  |     No Comments

NOTE: This blog was just picked up by The Mary Sue! An extended version can be found, here.

Mother’s Day. A bit of a mixed affair for me, since what’s left of my mother—physically—rests in an urn. I don’t find that grisly, having the dead around. I mean, I’m not living in a mortuary—that would certainly be creepy. I am addicted to Penny Dreadful, however, make of that what you will. Worlds Greatest Character ActorMy macabre tendencies notwithstanding, I find it comforting to have my mother nearby. Too often we shun what makes us uncomfortable, and as such we lose our connection to the duality of the human condition. I don’t think you can know happiness until you’ve truly known sadness. I held my mother’s hand as she passed into the Great Mystery, and boy did that ever change me. I can’t flip that switch again, back to naiveté and blissful ignorance. Nor would I want to. In my work, I tend to mix the sour in with the sweet. We shouldn’t be afraid to explore darkness. In struggle we find strength.

It’s okay to talk about injustice, inequality and hate (dismantling and understanding it, ideally). My mother, Cynthia, spent her lifetime challenging the perceived status quo of what was acceptable for a lower class woman from rural Alberta to achieve. She came from a very fractured home. I won’t go into all or even any of the details. I will say that her childhood was the sort of experience that could break a person. However, she never broke. She was the kind of person that if you kicked her down, she’d get back up—angrily—and ask what in the world made you want to do something so rude. She effused class, culture and elegance, despite never having access to privilege. She taught me that you don’t need to be rich to be classy. Grace stems from an inherent respect and courtesy for the world around you. A bit of a rebel, she married a man of color, which is how I inherited my olive skin. At the age of 46, she started pursuing the law degree she dropped back when my sister was kicking in her belly. She was a working mom before soaring economics forced that choice into a necessity.

Was my mom brave? Undoubtedly. However, bravery is just doing something anyway even when you’ve scared your trousers brown. Was my mom a hero? No more than any woman that seeks to better herself. I think that the experience of loving my mother, of being able to watch and admire her accomplishments, allowed me to better love and respect all women—all people, actually. That’s what love does, it propagates itself. It spreads. It’s the best kind of infection.

Sometimes, a gust of wind blows into my office at just the right moment of success or failure, and I tell myself it is Cynthia’s ghost. Sometimes a bit of sun dazzles off the glass of her picture frame and I tell myself she’s smiling. Often I remind myself that I must limit my indulgence in sadness, especially since I was so loved and bettered by the one who is gone.

Open-Window

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