The summer heat was mutes by cool winds as Gemma hiked with her youngest brother and sister, and her baby being held at her chest with a carrier.
After a few minutes, Gemma’s right leg began to shake uncontrollably with every step it took.
But she pushed on, knowing that if she was ever going to recover fully,
she needed to challenge herself.
It was a short hike through the lively trees until they reached a
w a t e r f a l l .
It stretched high above them, and the four of them, Forest included,
observed the powerful force of nature in front of them.
Water spilled itself mightily over the rocks
and down to the flat earth where it splashed wildly
and still somehow the whole of the movement was
g r a c e f u l .
“I love nature.”
Alex, her youngest brother was already
climbing his way up the side of the
waterfall to get to the top.
She was the oldest of seven siblings between two divorced and re-married parents.
Every single one of her siblings was
d y n a m i c and b e a u t i f u l ,
and she always felt lucky to be connected to them.
Ashleigh was the beautiful mother of two little girls
who had a passion for creative organizing.
Her home was styled perfectly and her girl’s always had the most creative parties,
but it made Gemma sad that she could not see her own beauty and talents.
Then there was Anne,
whom she had a falling out with during her pregnancy,
but all was forgiven.
Anne was a musical goddess
who didn’t know her own inner strength yet.
There was also Kylee,
the youngest girl, and her best friend.
Gemma didn’t know anyone with a better head on their shoulders,
or anyone with prettier eyes.
Kylee’s potential was endless
and perhaps the most remarkable thing about her
was the purity of her heart and her ability to see the people around her
free from judgement.
The three youngest siblings were made up of boys.
Jared being the oldest,
who Gemma was more and more proud of
every time they could see each other.
He was an intellectual and was able to see things clearer than most people.
Gemma adored his bohemian spirit and honesty.
When Jacob was born, Gemma took very good care of him...
he was her little best friend and they’ve remained close since.
He was never unkind,
was incredibly hardworking
and had talents spilling from every orifice.
When he was diagnosed with Leukemia, Gemma shut down,
and she felt guilty for doing so.
She couldn’t even begin to allow herself to imagine
the incredible pain and suffering he faced daily,
and though she offered herself to be there through anything he needed,
she found it difficult to talk about,
even with him.
But he was now in remission,
looking and feeling better as time went on
and there was no doubt that he was making it through this
d e v a s t a t i n g o r d e a l
with grace and strength.
Her youngest sibling, Alex,
had a unique mind that not everyone knew how to understand.
But she did.
They bore very much in common, after all.
He too suffered quietly in ways people could not grasp from the outside.
b e a u t y
he poured into the world through his
and visual projects
was powerful and singular enough to change it.
She never doubted the amazing things he was capable of.
Kylee began snapping photos as Gemma walked over to the water to show her son,
who was completely captivated by the powerful fluid movement.
When their brother returned to the ground, they all sat down on a large rock to
soak up the negative ions and let it all wash over them.
Forest was watching the stream with very serious eyes and suddenly
everyone became more captivated by him than the beauty around them.
l i g h t
was more beguiling than that of
a thousand stars.
“He’s so cute.” Kylee kissed him on the cheek.
“Seriously, your baby is perfect.”
Alex chimed in.
“I know.” Gemma smiled,
“I mean, of course no one is technically perfect.
But I think the point of parenthood
is to accept your child completely
as they are,
regardless if they think or believe
in the same things that you do.
Regardless if they life their life
the way you want them to.
I’m making a point to remember this.
I look around me and I watch as
children love their parents unconditionally,
no matter what they do to them.
And yet parents have such a difficult time
accepting their children for exactly who they are and
“Wow.” Kylee said,
“You’re so right.
And that’s actually really sad to think about.”
“It’s because people place importance
on unimportant things, like school, sexuality,
or even difference of opinions,
hobbies and passions that they don’t understand.
And then children grow up
feeling like disappointments
because what makes them happy upsets their parents.”
Alex was throwing rocks into the stream as he spoke.
“That’s exactly what I promise myself
I am going to remember.
My greatest hopes for my son,
and if I have any other kids,
will be for them to be at peace with themselves,
and that they are happy.
If they can attain those things,
as long as they don’t hurt anyone to get there,
then I will be the happiest parent alive.
I know what it’s like to fight for happiness,
and I never want him to have to
struggle that way.”
Gemma hugged her little boy closer to her.
“And he’s already the happiest little boy.”
Kylee says, smiling at him.
“Man I miss you guys.” Gemma said,
“You guys are always the best to talk to.”
“I know, I’ve been working way too much.
Like I don’t even know where my summer went.”
“You’re also moving very soon.”
Gemma told Kylee.
“Yea.” She said,
“I can’t wait, but I am going to miss you guys.”
“We’ll make sure that wherever we all end up,
we’ll stay close.”
Alex said and they continued
to watch the water fall in silence,
enjoying the company of trees,
wind and true friendship.
Days like these were few and far between,
but it’s important to hold onto the
t e n d e r n e s s
that it brought forth for when darker days came.