Remember that song by Bette Midler? “Did you ever know that you’re my hero?” I still cry when I hear those words. My mother gave me a figurine once – a mother cuddling her daughter. On the bottom was a wind-up crank which, when loaded, played that song. “You are the wind beneath my wings.” My mother always said I was the wind beneath her wings – I knew it was the other way around. She was the wind beneath mine. She lifted me up. She encouraged me. She helped me soar. When she died, I fell. She had been my hero, my advocate, my defender. And when I lost her – I lost myself. I haven’t turned that crank for seven years…
Linda was the wind beneath Angela’s wings. I taught Angela in grade 8. I think I may have even fought to teach her. We all did. Angela was an inspiration. And it was her mother, Linda, who was Angela’s inspiration. Linda was Angela’s advocate, her defender, her provider. She had taken Angela into her home when Angela was a wee girl. It was Linda’s choice to raise Angela as her own – and she had make the right choice. Angela grew into a fine, young woman. She was always bright, daring, and ambitious. And those qualities only became more apparent as Angela grew.
I am sad to have missed out on their lives once I moved away from Collingwood. I often think about them and how they would have faced the challenges of moving through the high school years, university years, the dating… and so on. I know there would have been rebellion. There is always rebellion – it’s part of growing up. I know there would have been defiance. Always teen defiance. There would have been heart-break, tears, and fear. And more than anything – there would have been love. Fierce love. There would have been forgiveness, confidence, and joy. Of these things I am as sure as rain.
How lucky for all of us who knew Linda and Angela, to have witnessed such a bond between mother and daughter. It is a bond that one would read about in books, watch grow in the movies, and pine for in our own relationships. It is one to which we could all aspire. It wasn’t perfect – but it was real. I will always remember how Linda would look at Angela – when nothing in particular was happening. Although Angela may not have “caught” that glance, I know in my heart that she felt it. It was a look that transcended time and space. It was something molecular that vibrated to Angela’s very core. Her smile was proof. Angela had the most wonderful smile when she was with Linda.
Words needed no place in their relationship. There were no words.
There are no words now. How can I describe the sadness I feel when I think of what Angela has lost? I am broken hearted. “We” are broken hearted. It is the end of a chapter in Angela’s life and she must continue to write her book – with one less pen. I feel the loss. We feel her loss.
We, the Mountain View community, admired her. We looked up to her. We admired her. We wondered how she had the courage, the tenacity, the energy to raise Angela. We were happy she did. We were elated to see Angela evolve through the years into a wonderful young woman. We, the Mountain View community supported them. We did not always use words. I think Angela could feel our smiles for her, our silent congratulations, and our admiration. One doesn’t not need words to communicate. A life-time of encouragement and support lingers in the air as an invisible cloak which can wrap itself around an individual in times of grief. A life-time of admiration can sustain the soul to feed to hungry void. We, the Mountain View community will step in to walk beside Angela as she finds her footing once again.
It takes a community to raise a child. It takes a loving parent to let a miracle evolve. And the miracle lay in that very relationship Linda had built with Angela.
Loss can be raw and ragged. But, overtime, it will heal. Mother Time will dress the wound and stitch the gap. The scar will never leave and we are forever changed. Time marches on. Sometimes, we hear the drum and our hearts beat in time. Sometimes, the drum marches us forward and we are not even aware that we have moved. This time – this moment – I am in step. My heart beats. My heart beats so hard that it hurts. It aches. The loss is raw. The pounding is real. I am at a loss for words.
Let us, the Mountain View community, linger with Linda’s memory a while. Let us rejoice in the glory of the moments Linda and Angela shared together. These moments are the fabric of their lives which, when stitched together, form the most magnificent quilt of life well lived – together. Mother and daughter – a relationship to stand the test of time. Linda was, and will continue to be, the wind beneath Angela’s wings.