I can’t stop thinking about a woman I’ve never met whose tremendous act of courage the other day sums up what it means to be a mother: she gave her own life to save her daughter’s.
Angelica Guerrero was probably a normal person going about a normal day on Wednesday in her West Springfield neighborhood when a nightmare swirled into her life, and claimed it. No one expected it. We don’t get tornados in Massachusetts. At least not very often.
People were probably watching the clock as the work day ended, or musing about what to make for dinner, or wondering if the traffic would ever let up. And then, a monster from nowhere roared in like a freight train and ripped their town apart.
What amazes me is Angelica’s presence of mind to grab her 15-year-old daughter with just the few seconds of warning they had and get her into a bathtub. This mom, as we learned from the news, climbed in and covered her daughter with her own body as the two floors of apartments above caved in on top of them.
Every mother has the instinct. Whether it’s throwing out your right arm when you brake unexpectedly, staying up all night to be sure they’re still breathing, or going into battle when they are hurt or wronged.
Yet, like any mother, there have been a million times, too, that you threaten to kill your kids when you’re mad at them. But of course you don’t mean it. And then the days where everything they do, and don’t do, makes you crazy and a broken record: Clean your room. Bring down the dirty dishes. Stop fighting! Are you deaf? Turn down the volume. That’s your best effort? You get the picture. Critical. Impatient. Human.
Sometimes I think it takes an act of courage just to be a mother – it’s such a hard, consuming job, even though the benefits are boundless. For Angelica Guerrero, the job involved the ultimate sacrifice because of her enduring love for her daughter. That’s humbling, not only for an imperfect mother like me, but for everyone.