It’s far too late in the evening for me to be writing this, but since we’ve been spending some time here and there talking about my life in the cult, I feel to share a thought that’s just been distilling upon me.

I’m sitting on my couch, facing the wall on which hangs a series of three black and white photos of me as a baby. Looks like one is when I was maybe a few weeks old. I have newborn hair and clearly no hand control, but my face is no longer wrinkly. In the bottom one, I have fuzzy, shaggy hair and  I am lighting the candle on my one-year birthday cake and I look totally entranced. My mother’s left hand is guiding my left hand and she is crouched behind my chair. I can’t see her face.

In the middle one, I must be at least 6 or 8 months old. I’m sitting up, I’m mostly bald, and I am wearing a long-sleeved onesie. My mother in all of her culty regalia, funky-symboled pendant hanging near my lap, is leaning at me. She must be kneeling. We look like we’re playing patty-cake or doing something very fun because I am obviously laughing very hard.

Of course I can’t remember this. But it’s also very clear that my mother loved me. Sure, she committed to the cult and as I grew up, her commitment to me as her son and the relationship all children have a right to softened and perhaps nearly disappeared.

But in these photos, she is being a mother to me, her baby son. I didn’t know then, of course, what would become of us and how our relationship would be. The force of the joy baby me is feeling in the middle photo is much louder than my memories of a bland, almost non-existent relationship.

Much, much louder.

As odd or unusual as our relationship was, my mother loved me. I had the love of a mother. I must not doubt that. I must forgive her choices which I will never fully understand- at least until the next life comes along.