When my mother was eighteen years old she watched a friend die next to her. She was in her first semester of college. Having moved from Pittsburgh to Florida and immediately becoming involved in activist work with the Farm Workers Union, she stood on a picket line and felt herself be thrown to the ground as a truck plowed across the picket line, running over and killing the friend picketing with her.
She couldn’t stay in school after that. She took an independent study to travel with the union, but quickly stopped communicating with her advisor and never returned. I have thought often of how this shaped her as an activist, have heard stories about her work with the union and the other movements she became involved with, but I never stopped to think about how this shaped her as a mother. Who might she have been if this had never happened? Would she be consumed by the anxiety and fear I so often blame her for?