Only a mother can know
In the wee, dark, hours of early morning, she wipes away her nightly tears, paints on a smile, and gathers her little clan around her. With the love only a mother can give or even fathom, she feeds, clothes, and readies them, to learn, to grow, and to become men unlike their father. With the last tattered bits of hope, she sends them off to the teachers and prays feebly but passionately, for their salvation from a life such as hers. Each son smiling and oblivious to her distress, let’s her hold and kiss them, wriggling and giggling, for a moment. Then they are gone, skipping over hill and heather. laughing and singing along.
She watches listening for one last bit of tune or laughter, then closes the door. Her soft, and beautiful forehead resting against the rough hewn door she begins the first of the days many cries. Sobs rack her fragile body like waves building before the storm. The demons and angels wage their daily battle for her soul as she crawls into the safety and meager comfort of her bed. She will cry for hours, beg for mercy, and release from her horrible loneliness. She will curse and scream, blame herself, not others, for her pain, her utter despair.
In the waning hours of the afternoon, she stumbles to the empty cupboards. A growing lump of despair, and terror, rising in her throat, she gathers what meager crumbs and morsels remain. With the skill and love that only a mother can know, she prepares her son’s their tiny feast. A shout and a crash and they tumble into their simple home and rush to the table. With the abandon and joy only a child can know, they clap and rejoice at their good fortune, devouring her efforts as if they were fit for a king. The tiniest of smiles, from that deep, inexhaustible well of motherly love, flickers and dances on and off her face. Her eyes fill with tears and pride at her brood, such mighty young warriors she hopes will conquer the cruel world that has beaten her down so fiercely. She stands ever so slightly taller, and even the demons stop to marvel. They have seen Charlemagne, Caeser, Attila and barbarians aplenty, but this...this frail, humble, threadbare, creature fights harder, and longer, than all of them together. The angels smile, tears in their own eyes, and whisper softly...”Only a mother can know!”