I’ve said, many times, how there is one day in May that is, for me, the most difficult day of the year. Over time, slowly, I’ve been getting better, managing to not find myself staring off into space and just … thinking.
It’s not the missing, not the wishing. It’s not the wanting, so much, to be what I can never be. I’ve come to accept, sort of, that part of myself, of my past, present, and future.
But, always, there’s a moment when I’d like to ask a question, but I know that it can never be answered because there’s no one to answer that question, the one that forever lurks in the back of my mind.
There is a day that comes every year in the Realm, a day which most understand is not the easiest of days for her to manage. Some offer a kind word, others a hug. Rianna and Branwyn, of course, hug Tera and thank her for being their mother, not even considering using the word ‘adoptive,’ for, in their eyes, Tera is anything but.
While all of these wishes, love, and understanding help her, there are a number of questions that no one really has an answer for. Save one person, that is.
That person is simply known as ‘Uncle,’ and, on this day—the one that Tera tries so hard to manage —she approached him and asked: “I have a question, Uncle—if you have a moment, that is?”
He leaned on his cane while looking at a shrub he had been pruning the moment before: “Of course. But what do you think about my trimming?”
Tera nibbled her lip slightly as she tried to figure out how to reply to that question. Considering that the shrub was now trimmed into the shape of a hockey puck (one of her uncle’s favourite things to rant over, by the way) her tail moved slowly behind her: “Well … My first thought is that your team lost last night and you are taking out your frustrations on that poor shrub.”
He smiled and waved his walking stick in the direction of a series of other, not so similar shrubs which were all formed into various hockey items: “Adding to the collection.”
Tera smiled in return: “Of course; how silly of me.”
He turned his attention from his work—Tera would call it a hobby, but that’s another story—and regarded her: “Ah … of course.”
She tilted her head to the right: “Of course?”
“You know, that little quirk of yours, very much like your mother’s, though she always did it to the left.”
Tera fidgeted with her hands before making her request: “Tell me about her, please.”
“What do you want to know?”
She looked into the sky above: “I’d like to know something that isn’t in the books about her, not in the stories that everyone knows. I … I’d like to know a secret.”
He walked up to her, considered, then replied: “Knowing that she loves you isn’t enough?”
If it was anyone else, Tera might have made a comment to deflect that question. But not him, and not on this day of days: “Most of the time it is. I mean, I know she does. I know that. I … just never got to know …”
He nodded: “You never knew her like you want to now. As the woman you are, Tera, not as the child you were, the teenager you became.”
“Yes.” A single word, but one that spoke of a truth that she didn’t share often; it was something that she had shared with her Eternal, but he couldn’t put into words what her mother meant to him. She had spoken to her heart about this—about the aches, the need, the want—but again, he couldn’t explain who her mother was, other than to tell Tera, with a smile, that her mother was proud of her. There were still many in the Realm that knew of the Queen, Tera’s mother, in her role as Queen. They would, and did, tell Tera that she was everything that her mother could have wanted her to be.
But they weren’t her uncle, the only one that truly, at least in Tera’s eyes, could know her mother’s inner thoughts and know the answer to the question she had that day.
He poked his creation with his cane and recalled a moment, far in the past, one which Tera’s mother had forbidden him to speak of to Tera. He considered telling her, explaining to her how every beat of her heart, every moment she railed against what she was expected to be was music to her mother’s ears. How Tera’s choice to be the woman she was, the love she gave, the hope she offered to everyone, was the answer to the question that Tera herself was seeking.
He had gathered his memories, hard as they were to corral … not for his age, but because, in doing so, he would break his word to his Queen in remembering that moment, that point in the past. He considered what that would mean, breaking his word, telling Tera of the choices made by her mother, or rather not made: a path she could have taken, long before Tera was even an idle thought in her mother’s mind.
The moment passed, and his decision was made.
He turned to her, and paused.
Tera stood there, looking, waiting, her green eyes a bit watery, a bit hopeful, a bit frightened.
He remembered why it was a secret, why it was something that Tera was not, ever, to know. “Tera …”
She had hope in her eyes, knowing that his next words would reveal that secret that she could never quite see the answer to within herself.
His voice was rarely other than gruff, to the point, and blunt, but not this time. He wiped his eyes with his free hand: “She knows you love with all you are, every moment.”
“No, neice, you don’t, not like you think you do. You keep looking for the flaw within yourself, that small thing inside of you which you’ll latch onto and turn into a massive thing in your own mind, the one which tells you that you aren’t good enough for your mother.”
Tera shrugged slightly: “Well, I’m …”
He tapped Tera’s right leg with his cane: “You are more than good enough. Accept that. Accept that, on this day, you are. Accept that you are, in every way that really matters … every bit.”
“I … miss her.”
He took her hand in his and nodded: “If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be my niece. We all do. But you forget one important thing.”
“As long as you remember her, she’s always with you.”
Tera smiled softly: “Thank you, Uncle.”
He shrugged: “Nothing you don’t already know. Sometimes, I think I’m only here to kick your tail from time to time.”
For the first time, Tera laughed: “I’m a big girl, Uncle.”
He winked: “Doesn’t mean I can’t put you in your place. Now, go on. You have better things to do, and I have gardening to finish.”
Tera kissed him lightly on the cheek before turning away: “I expect a call tonight. Your team is playing again.”
He chuckled: “I’m going to run out of shrubs before the season is over.”
As Tera left, he watched her and recalled something Tera’s mother had told him once … “All she need be is herself, and that’s all.”
His niece was, certainly, that.