This was written during the 83rd week of the WWKC workshop, hosted by Poet Jen Harris.
Write about a moment that you realized you are not the center of the universe.
There is a woman at the front of the group, telling us powerful stories about her life, here only to teach us about God from her own experiences. Her phone vibrates on the table beside her, buzzing all our attention away from her words for a moment. She presses a button to silence it, swiftly. In the middle of her next sentence, it vibrates again, again we all try to dig our attention in but our focus shifts anyway, while she reaches to silence it for a second time. Within sixty seconds it rings again, and her face twists in concern and empathy, embarrassment and a hint of frustration. She offers us, her audience, a true southern woman apology while gesturing and explaining with as few words as possible that it’s one of her children and three calls in a row must be an emergency. We all murmur our understanding and await her return. She steps into an adjacent room. We hear her respond that yes of course she DOES know exactly where the soccer cleats are, and that she’s told that child no less than one hundred thousand times where to put their soccer cleats so this wouldn’t be a problem, and that she was “BUSY, for goodness’ sake!”
I overheard this exchange and I felt my cheeks flush. I was nineteen and it had never occurred to me that my mother ever did anything that was important enough not to interrupt over whatever I might need in any given moment.
I wonder how many times I interrupted her existence, sending her heart spiraling into emergency mode over tiny, trivial things. Never soccer cleats, but definitely spare keys, and favorite dresses. How many times did I move through existence like I was the sun around which every living thing revolved? Never realizing that it was really her. She is what kept us all in orbit, that she is what gave us warmth. She knew the whereabouts of all my most important nonsense and was the keeper of my dreams. She held us all together, and it was only after I couldn’t call her for anything that I realized how important all her moments had always been.