A short, potent enquiry about going back and changing one thing in your life if you could.
We were sitting in the yard under a leaning, fanned-out tree bending low to shelter us from the piercing summer sun. I searched the sky for an answer to the question she posed. “If you could go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be?” Images flashed before my eyes like a sped-up slide show. No space between them.
“I wouldn’t change anything”, I heard my own voice whisper inside my head. Every action, stillness, moment of motion or nothingness brought me to this moment. No mind to the scars. They give aesthetics to my soul. Still, I knew there must be something I’d go back and change that wouldn’t set me on a course of being a different person than I am now. I leaned into the trunk of the tree. I traced the lines on my palm with my fingertip as if they were brail, sensitising to the dips in skin, the raised calloused trails of my journey this far.
“I wouldn’t have gotten my tattoos”, I finally said out loud. She moved toward me, stretching her fingers out like magic wands and traced the tattoo over my heart with a soft touch.
“This one is a Balinese symbol”, I said as she studied the details of it with her soft green eyes. A tear leaked from her left eye and rolled down her cheek.
“It’s over every doorway of a home and temple in Bali symbolising that when you enter, you do so in a sacred way. That’s why it’s here, over my heart”, I said.
She bowed her head to enter my heart in a sacred way. She’d been inside it for decades and always came in with reverence.
“Well, maybe not this tattoo”, I said. “I’d keep this one.”
“I wouldn’t have grabbed my son by the shirt when he was seven years old, so hard it left a red mark on his neck.” I dropped my head toward my chest. She scooted in next to me, shoulder to shoulder and leaned against me like I leaned on the tree. She was listening with her whole body. The tear that fell from the light in her eyes became mine. She said my eyes turned black like obsidian, glass-like, as they welled with what we called ‘ holy water’.
“You were an amazing mom and still are.” She blew that sentence into my ear like it was a kiss off the palm of her hand. I told her I apologised to