Five-foot three, with light brown eyes and jet-black hair, my mom is my favorite hello and most difficult goodbye. For as long as I can remember, she has been my idol, gracefully modeling a dichotomy difficult to strike. While prosecuting in the courtroom, she is a force to be reckoned with—unfaltering in her pursuit of justice for others. As a mother, friend, and woman, however, she unveils a softer side: Her actions exude sensitivity, optimism, and kindness unlike any other I have ever known.

As an only child, I never received the gift of a sibling with whom I could share laughs, secrets, or knowing glances from across a room. The older I’ve gotten, the more I have realized I never needed a sibling, anyway.

Back home, my mom and I would wake, nosh on a quick breakfast together, and depart for Jersey City—she off to work and I to school. Regardless of frigid weather, gridlock traffic, or my anxious stomach ache prior to a day of exams, we always had fun. She would crack jokes and we would laugh; I would queue music and we’d sing along. With her infectious smile and confident attitude, my mom managed to turn every gloomy morning of mine into a better day.

Now that I am at Rochester, we are separated by nearly 400 miles of sloping highway. I no longer have the luxury of peeking out a classroom window and seeing her office building standing tall a mile away. Moving away from home was a major shift—and not just because of my new suburban digs, minimized food options, and much harsher winters.

When I am missing my mom especially, I recall the words she imparted upon me when I would cry as a young girl: A line from her favorite poem, by author e. e. cummings.

“I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart,” she’d smile, wiping away my tears.

As I reflect upon that sentence, I can see that there is a piece of my mom with me wherever I go. Whether my toothy smile, the spitting image of hers; how I can’t help but dance when Simon & Garfunkel plays; or my affinity for crossword puzzles. I like to think that every day, I grow to be a little bit more and more like her. I guess those 400 miles between the two of us don’t feel so distant, after all. 

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