** with help from weekend wordsmith
For as long as she could remember, she wanted to leave. Just go. Wander the world, see the sights. Climb mountains, traverse rivers, frolic with sun kissed brown skinned boys on beaches in the moonlight, see as much as she could as far away from home as she could get... But getting pregnant at 19 meant the world took on a different meaning. Instead of vast deserts and endless prairies, she got vast piles of diapers and endless nights with a crying baby. But she loved that baby so! It was worth giving up her dreams. As her daughter grew, she decided that if she couldn't see the world, her baby girl would. They spent hours with books from the library, long before Baby Girl could even read, looking at pictures. She would read the passages, tell her all about places like the Australian Outback, the Himalayan Mountains, the endless blue depths of the Pacific Ocean. Baby Girl absorbed every word as they lay in bed together at night. She was the only kid in the Kindergarten class that knew that Hawaii's Mount Waialeale is the wettest place in the world or Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world's highest waterfall. She and her mother plotted and planned and saved for the day she could go and explore the world for them both. When ever she asked why, her mother always just said: ASK NOT WHAT YOUR MOTHER CAN DO FOR YOU. ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR MOTHER and what you can do for me is go and see it all and then tell me about it.
So when the day came, Baby Girl did just that. And it was so much more than what she expected! When letters and snapshots sent to her mother could no longer convey what she saw and felt, she began to write books and take the most amazing photos. When publishers and magazines began to showcase her work, no one was prouder than her mother. Anytime a reporter asked why she did what she did, she replied, "So my Mom can see the world." As her fame expanded, it was harder and harder to get back to her mom. When Baby Girl called and expressed her regret at not coming home, she only ever said, "You are doing just what I asked. Go. Explore and tell me all about it.".
Baby Girl was in the middle of an ocean, shooting the most staggering beautiful school of fish when the message reached her. "Come Home" was all it said. Her mother had never asked her to come home before. All she ever said was "Go. Explore. Tell me all about it." Baby Girl went.
Her mom was in the one place she never expected to see her~the hospital. Apparently she had been sick for months, but had never let on. The guilt was overwhelming, but when she stepped in the room, her mother's eyes opened and she said, "Tell me about where you were". So Baby Girl crawled in bed with her mother like she had done a million times growing up but this time she was the storyteller. She began to describe the blue of the sky, the depth of the water, the brilliance of the fish. Her mother closed her eyes and just when Baby Girl thought she was asleep, she whispered, "You know, I was always there with you. I could taste the salt of the water, or the rush of wind on a mountain, or the heat from the desert, I was always there. You always did just what I asked. You took me with you. I need you to do what I ask one more time." She then began to tell her own story, of the cancer that had spread and could no longer be contained and would take her life shortly. As she began to lay out her plan to end the pain, Baby Girl shook her head in disbelief.
"Yes.", her mother insisted. "Remember, ASK NOT WHAT YOUR MOTHER CAN DO FOR YOU. ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR MOTHER. You have always done exactly what I asked. You have been my greatest gift and the best traveling companion that a woman could ever have. Please help me take this final trip."
After all the crying, begging and discussion would not sway her mother's quiet determination that this was what she wanted, Baby Girl took the horde of pain pills from her mother's hiding place and poured a glass of water. She crawled back in bed and fed them to her, one at a time. As the pain began to subside and peace came into the room, Baby Girl held her mother and whispered, "Go. Explore, Tell me all about it."