The Bus Ticket that taught Me the Extent of a Mother’s Love

The Bus Ticket that taught Me the Extent of a Mother’s Love

I’m huddled down in the tall grass.

It’s dark, and a light rain has made everything around me wet. As I assess the situation, I try not to think about whether there are snakes around me.

I hear people’s voices as they go in and out of the rest area. Some laugh. They are having a better night than I am.

It’s the mid-90s, and I am a college student. As I listened to the people I was with calling my name, I knew I must get back in the car. As I reluctantly make my way back, I resolve to return to Colorado as soon as possible, but first, I must make a plan.

Over the next few days, I bide my time and bite my tongue. I’m with my ex-boyfriend who has turned from being a stoner athlete to an increasingly volatile and abusive partner; he invited me to follow the Grateful Dead with his friends.

What sounded like a grand adventure to me quickly turned into a nightmare. That was how I found myself hiding in the forest at a rest stop in Arkansas.

A few days later, on a sunny, quiet Mother’s Day morning, I slipped out of the camper we were sleeping in and asked a neighbor for a ride to town. Thankfully, he agreed.

I only have my backpack and clothes on my back, but I also have a calling card and know exactly who I will call. The neighbor drops me off at a local Greyhound Bus station and hands me $20. Wishing me luck, I ask him to keep my whereabouts a secret. He agrees.

I rang my mentor and explained that the Grateful Dead adventure had become a disaster. I asked if she would lend me the money for a bus ticket back home. She was happy to hear from me and asked me to call back in 10 minutes so that she could clear it with her husband.

I hang up the pay phone and wait nervously. I don’t have another plan if this doesn’t pan out. I can’t call my mom or dad. They are unhappy with this road trip. Not only am I sure they won’t help, but at this point, I don’t want to hear the dreaded, “I told you so.” I hope to hell that the Mother’s Day card I sent from the road made it to my mom in time.

When I ring back my mentor, she’s happy to help. This is before PayPal and cell phones, so she has to call the ticket counter to pay. I meander to the gift shop and purchase a bag of pretzels, a Coke, and a bottle of water. It’s going to be a long 17 hours.

Upon arriving at the Denver Greyhound Terminal, my mentor picked me up and took me to the summer camp in the mountains where I was employed. I am safe, and everyone is happy to see me. It will be a wonderful, life-changing summer resulting in my son’s birth the following spring.

Thirty years later, this past weekend, as I hiked through a Colorado forest to celebrate Mother’s Day, I can still remember my heartbeat ringing in my ears in the forest at the rest stop. I will never again talk to my boyfriend upon returning home. I will never again let anyone abuse me.

Many years later, I will learn the truth about that day.

My mentor called my mom and asked if she could help me. My mom told her to keep it a secret, but she would buy my ticket for the bus ride home.

I was stunned when I learned this. She kept it a secret from me for the six years or so that we got together before she passed away. That time together was mostly awesome and sometimes tough. Just like many mothers and daughters experience in their teenage years and beyond.

There’s a beautiful Buddhist practice we can use to generate compassion for all sentient beings. We think of our mother with gratitude. Even if we have a difficult relationship with our mom, we can be grateful that she took care of herself and gave us life. She is the reason we are here on Earth.

After connecting with this gratitude and love, we send the feeling out to all sentient beings. First in our homes and neighborhoods, then extending as far as we can worldwide. We touch the hearts of those we like, those we don’t like, and those we don’t know. This mother practice helps us connect with the sense that we are all in this together.

As I reflect on the resilience I now have, I know that while the rest stop incident was terrifying, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, it was a pivotal moment when I found my inner strength to survive and thrive.

But the bus ticket? The bus ticket taught me the extent of a mother’s love and how we can secretly send that love to all sentient beings.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *