My mother, the X-man

My mother has an X-gene. It glows a pinkish orange, greenish blue, goldish red.

I first noticed when I was 12. A long-faced woman – tears brimming her eyes – was retelling a grey story in the hallways of an elementary school. My mother nodded along, her face strained with the scrunch of real empathy – the kind you rarely see. A hug and phone number exchange later, the long-faced woman walked away, glowing a pinkish orange, greenish blue, goldish red.

The pattern would repeat itself over the years. People with grey stories would find an ear that listened and a heart that cared in my mother, and she would move mountains to colour in the grey. To ease some of the pain. To make this life thing just a little more pleasant for those that crossed her path. They’d walk away from the interactions enveloped in all shades of pinkish orange, greenish blue, goldish red.

Some days I’d notice the toll the power took on her. The wrinkles etched by other people’s stories, the frustrations of not doing enough or having done too much. Still, it never wavered. Relentless on its mission to colour the grey, her magic led her to the front of a classroom. Here, every year, new stories await her, and she takes on the task of equipping them with their own power source. She teaches them how to add compassion, subtract hate, and multiply empathy. Every year, she leaves behind classrooms basked in hues of pinkish orange, greenish blue, goldish red.

My mother has an X-gene. I’ve often wished I had her blue-green eyes, her light curly hair, her cascading laugh. But mostly, mostly I want her power to paint the world a pinkish orange, greenish blue, goldish red.

Happy birthday mom! On behalf of the world, thanks for being born.

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