When I was 2 weeks old you discovered that my face would not be the same as the other kids. By the time I was 6 months old, my birthmark was the first thing people noticed and the cause of stares and calls to CPS. Yet not once as a child do I remember feeling as if my face - my differences - mattered much.
Even as an adolescent and a young adult, my insecurities in my appearance paled in comparison to many of my peers. While I was self-conscious about my mark, my value was rooted deeply in other things. That is thanks to you.
You gave me the confidence to stand at the front of classes as a new student and explain my mark - to allow the other kids to ask questions. You taught me how people make fun of what they fear and they fear what they don't know and I had the power to help them to know.
You taught me how the fastest way to make a person regret an unkind word or action is to respond with sincere kindness and generosity. I'm sure I was pointed at, stared at, commented about, and teased, but I recall almost none of it. I know that at times you must have shielded me from it, and took the hurt onto yourself.
And whatever you didn't deflect - none of it left a lasting mark because I knew that my mark was only a part of my face. You told me it had purpose - it gave me the kind of compassion and vision which can't be learned.
This mark could have moulded me into someone timid, insecure, and weak. But you didn't let it. You were so young and I'm sure you were scared. Now that I'm a mom too, I imagine you felt like you were messing it all up.
You loved me the best that you could and your best was exactly what I needed. Thank you. Happy Birthday Mom.