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The Woman and The Daughter

Chance Meetings Sharpie by me

Day 11 and 12. Story and art.:)
I once wrote a post called 'Borrowed Mythology'. Perhaps the following is a story I wrote to tend to a need in myself that I expressed in that writing-- to have stories to journey with to help me understand just a little bit more forces that I can't quite reconcile or make peace with, with love so big and contradictions running so deep...perhaps this piece helps me to understand an essential truth in mothering (and perhaps in relationships in general), that we are always a bit bereft of one another. I hope you enjoy.

The Woman and The Daughter

Once upon a time there was a woman and her daughter. There were only certain times of day when they could meet because of a curse. The mother had been changed from her human form to live in the depths of the sea as a whale, while the daughter became a bird, creature destined to roam the sky.

At first, the mother kept her enormous rubbery body as many inches above the water as she could, to serve as a perch for her daughter. When they met for those moments, they would sing, although they were deaf to the other’s songs. Only Ocean and Sky where they came together as rolling waves, could hear the haunting duet--mother and daughter’s heartbreaking ballad of bereavement, their cries and pleads for the other’s embrace, for their familiar voice and presence. Day by long day, they would sing their hearts out, just in case the other could hear; the daughter chirping on in repetitive descant of bird-song-sorrows and the story of her mother’s abandonment of her to the seas, and the mother clicking and squeaking long refrains, echoing and reverberating in the depths, the pain of her loss of holding, smelling and nuzzling her downy-haired girl.

Over time as they adapted to their new homes, their visits became shorter and shorter and their songs less sorrowful. They sang more and more about their adventures and discoveries, and even though they couldn’t hear one another, their song became a soothing balm for their troubled hearts, and for slivers of silvery time that passed like mercury through fingers without any communion.

Naturally, they began to answer the call to find their worlds and explore themselves as the new creatures the had become. More and more the mother felt herself called to sing her songs below the surface or the water, where her feathered daughter couldn’t go. And more and more the daughter yearned for her wings in flight above the land, at heights her mother could never reach.

After a while, even their songs of discovery and exploration began to quiet. The mother would surface for a while in the sun, and her daughter would perch upon her, and there they would bob rhythmically, cradled by the soothing motion of the waves, for mere moments, basking in the sun together, without a sound, feeling only breeze and warmth of the sun, their thoughts and emotions a glassy pool of peace. They didn’t have language to communicate this deep settling, nor were they aware of its intrinsic communal nature, but as they touched each other and let their surroundings touch them, they both experienced deep and cleansing sensations of just merely being right here.

Their favorite times were when they were involved in their sacred dances, and they thought of each other. The mother singing ancient songs, diving below and rising to the surface in measured waves of breath, and the daughter singing her own fresh songs, riding wind currents and perching high atop the trees to see the world.

One day the daughter was injured in a storm, and her wing broken. She flew as best she could where she knew her mother could view her upon a craggy set of rocks, where they often came to just look at one another.

The mother felt instinctively that something was wrong, and offered her body as a perch for her daughter, riding up from the depths of the ocean to tend to her little bird. But as the daughter clumsily flew upon her mother’s back, the water felt too cold on her broken body, and the mother could not seem to rise high or steadily enough above the waves to give her daughter rest. The daughter exhaustedly found her way back to the sharp rocks.

For days the mother swam as close to the rocks as she could and bellowed her song to soothe her daughter. She felt her huge lumbering body a prison, and yearned to have arms to hold her child. She resented her fins and her massive body and quaked with anger at knowing this body would only crush or drown her delicate daughter. She thrashed and howled, angrily spewed, sending shards of resentment into the depths of the ocean. She felt the salty water as acid to her heart and soul, the contradiction of life-giving waters, that also trapped her. She sang of her wish to be an eagle, to be able to scoop up her daughter and bring her to a warm soft sandy beach where she would caress her cheek and nourish her strength.

The daughter sang out in pain, but mostly slept, alone and abandoned by the one who had always nursed her back to health when she was sick. The daughter came to resent the air that teased her to fly, when her wing was broken, and she wished for the first time to be a water creature, to swim aside her mother, protected by her powerful body.

And so it was that the mother found her greatest and most difficult surrender--to accept that there was nothing she could do but just watch. By no choice of her own she had to let her daughter fend for herself.

It was a very gray day indeed when the mother saw buzzards circling round her daughter ready to descend upon the injured bird. The mother became so terrified that she thrust herself into the sky as high as she could, and for the first time heard her daughter’s cries. She sang her whale song as loud as she could. She couldn’t believe that all she had for her daughter in this moment, was her useless song. This was the moment she had always feared. When she truly couldn’t save her.

But in that moment, what the mother saw amazed her. She saw her daughter register her song, look up, see the buzzards, assess the situation in a lightening bolt moment, stand up with all of her might, and glow with a powerful presence.

She saw her daughter choose to fight with all of herself to live! To KNOW the preciousness of her breath, and to let her mother’s song vibrate within her. She spread out her wings wide, and her mother realized what a powerful wingspan she had--how had she not seen this muscular aeriform body?! The daughter rocketed into the sky. Higher and higher she climbed, the flap of her giant wings carrying her far against gravity. She began to do the most beautiful dance, weaving in and out of clouds, mist covering her feathers, making her shimmer like thousands of diamonds in the sun that was peeking from the clouds.

She was the most beautiful sight to behold. The mother wept salty tears as she knew that her daughter had summoned her power, and had received it, willingly, and fully in her being, and that this strength would carry her.

Much time passed before she saw her daughter again.

Many year later, the mother had swam many miles to the Hawaiian islands, and was swimming with a school of her favorite dolphins, who loved to listen to her songs, and in turn sing theirs, making her laugh as they nuzzled and tickled her, and squeaked at her. Even though she missed her daughter, she let the dolphins cheer her up. They had become her close confidents and adored when she sang them her stories.

One day she made her way close to one of her favorite views, which was where the lava of a volcano oozed down into the ocean, and was birthing a new island as it cooled in the sea. She listened to the sizzling of the fire as it touched the ocean, and watched the salty waters crest and break on the baby island that was forming. She let the hot water warm her body, like a giant hot tub, and for a moment closed her eyes to settle into the comfort.

She felt so good that she rose up out of the water making the most torrential splash she could with her huge body and tail, giggling with unbridled joy. It was in mid-air when she heard familiar birdsong. She opened her eyes and saw her daughter, who gleamed in the sunlight, perched tall and proud on solid rock, and both began to sing so loud in joy, that they forgot for just a moment who was singing, as it touched something so ancient of them to be reunited. Their song swirled about them and lifted their spirits together. For just a moment the whale had arms and legs, and the bird did too, and mother and daughter held each other while their animal bodies sang, lifting higher and higher.

Mother and daughter were lifted to the top of a volcano where in their embrace they heard themselves singing about birth, death, creation, and the perils of existence, and they imbued one another with a great peace and release, a deep love that was as old as time, and as simple as breath, and for just a moment they knew the most splendid feeling of Home.

They felt the great invitation of their animal bodies to know this more fully in their cells, and when their song stopped, they knew that this place of Home would be felt more profoundly because of their journey together and apart.

Soon they returned back to their animal bodies, and their songs continued, every day. But this time, when they danced in the sky or the ocean, singing their songs, they felt a union and trust in life that gave them a deep-rooted joy and remembering, of life so solid so precious, so enduring, that no matter where they were or what was happening to them, it couldn’t be shaken or taken, even if they couldn’t meet together so comfortably side by side.

Every so often they met at the place where the water and the lava met, and sang to one another, hearing their duet as mother-whale jumped high into the air, and daughter-bird, airborne, made wonderful loops, twirls and turns in the most perfect ballerina fashion, and echoes of this were known on land and sea.

And in the end, both mother and daughter thanked with grace the curse that had changed them into new animals, sent them each off to explore and discover a new world, silenced their communications, so that they each had to reach into the depths of themselves to find a way for their unique songs to be heard.


  1. So beautiful, Brooke. This story tells a deep truth about mothers and daughters, and brought joy and comfort to this mother of a beloved daughter. Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for reading, dear Elizabeth. Thank you for your resonance and recognition of this deep truth. Means so incredibly much to me. So humbled you are here.


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