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Mothers and Daughters

Joannie Rochette will be what I remember about the Olympics. The Canadian figure skater’s mother died Sunday. Tonight she won the bronze medal.

People have been saying for days that it’s a story that can only happen at the Olympics. That’s sports hyperbole. It’s really one of those things that happens all over the world. It happened to me at 19, it just happened to a dear friend a few months ago and it will happen to you. It’s just that  most people don’t get a medal when their hearts break.

Before the Olympics, I’d never heard of Rochette, but I made a point of watching her skate  on Tuesday after hearing that her mom died in Vancouver — literally hours before she got a chance to see what will likely be her daughter’s greatest triumph.  No one really expected Joannie to be able to compete, or they expected she would fall apart if she tried.

Rochette  didn’t set aside her loss to skate. The awful mix of pain, panic and longing that fuels new grief gave her something more than respite.  On the ice, Rochette was wounded, brave and perfect. She did what she was built to do, but the only person who might have ever guessed such a thing was possible was no longer around to see it.

Watching Rochette made me think of my friend, who rode for hours to be at her mother’s chemotherapy treatment less than twenty-four hours after her own surgery. She held a pillow to her stomach for the car ride and simply went forward.

We become the women we are despite or because of the mothers who made us, and we are never more fully ourselves than the day we learn to go on without them.

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  1. Sarah
    February 26, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Kymberli: How beautifully you said it. Thank you for all of us who still miss our mothers, no matter what our relationship when they were alive.

  2. Chris
    February 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    It’s just that most people don’t get a medal when their hearts break.

    A beautiful way with words on a heart wrenching subject. Well said, Kym.

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