Still Here

This will be my third Mother’s Day without my mom.

Only not really, because in a true and deep way, my mother is here within me.

When Mom was alive, she would tell anyone who would listen, “This is my daughter.” As Mom’s dementia got worse, she would tell everyone that repeatedly. The response was always, “I know!” said with a laugh whether it was new information or someone hearing it for the tenth time. The joke was that Mom had to claim me because we looked so much alike.

Since her death, there have been a few times where I’ve quickly looked into a mirror and thought I was seeing Mom, not myself. I seem to look more like her with each passing year.

So I get what Harry Potter feels when he is repeatedly told, “You have your mother’s eyes.”

We learn as the series progresses that Harry not only has Lily Potter’s eyes; he carries within him the protection of her love as she sacrificed herself to save his life. Her sacrifice and love prevented his death and created a deep magic that stayed within him.

It’s not that Harry can’t be killed because of his mother’s sacrifice. Rather, it’s that he embodies her love, which means he, himself, is loving. Though bullied throughout his childhood, he never bullies but chooses to befriend outsiders and to protect the weaker. When he needs to make sacrifices, he does, for he feels the value of sacrifice.

Some of us have had moms like Lily, but not everyone is so lucky, so they don’t feel protected by a mother’s magic.

This is the case with Tom Riddle, later Voldemort, whose background we learn in the sixth book, getting to meet him as an orphaned child whose own mother died shortly after giving birth to him. The implication is that she gave up on life, choosing release rather than the hard life of caring for her son on her own.

Lily Potter chooses death as the ultimate act of love for Harry. Tom Riddle’s mother chooses death as escape, leaving her son alone and unloved, unable to feel any love or feel a connection to anyone for his entire life.

For those of us who are fortunate (like me and the fictional Harry Potter) who felt the unconditional love of a beautiful, sacrificing mother, we still carry that magic within us. Harry and I have our mother’s eyes that give us away. We are our mother’s children. This means that I am the continuation of my mom. I miss her daily, but I also feel her presence daily.

If someone hasn’t been lucky in their mom, we can extend love to them so that everyone gets to experience it. We can be like Harry, choosing love and offering it to others thanks to the loving hearts extended to us by our loving mothers.

Buddhism defines true love as containing loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and eqanimity. It is based upon the principle that all of us — not just mother and children — are interconnected and that we wish for happiness for each other without envy and without any desire to control.

If Tom Riddle had received true love from anyone, he would not have become Voldemort.

Mother’s love is magical because love carried within us creates more love to share.

On Mother’s Day, I wish you love — from your mom, from your children, from your friends, from your pets, and from all whom you encounter on this day that we celebrate so many women who have made sacrifices.

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Kathryn Duncan

Kathryn Duncan

Kathryn Duncan is an English professor and author of the book Jane Austen and the Buddha: Teachers of Enlightenment.