Thank you Mom, for my birthday

Dr. Laura Marsh wrote this on her birthday, December 26, 2016:

It’s my birthday! And since it is my Divine Birthday Right to say what I want to today, I offer something personal:

I had by 15th birthday in a tent camp on the beach of Mombasa, Kenya. My mom decided we should go because it was not long after her divorce with my dad. She was feeling the sting of rejection and the power of her new freedom. 

My mom put me on a plane to Panama alone when I was 18 years old after a different family tragedy. I had no idea what a rainforest was until I was standing in one, but that’s all it took. I was hooked forever.

I always write journals while I travel, and I would give them to my mom to read when I got back. Places like Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Belize – and then with the internet she could see my photos as I posted them online – all over Europe and the US, Brazil, Japan, Vietnam, Uganda…

When my mother died last year, I threw all of my efforts into the Houseboat Amazon expedition. I wanted to be far away in a remote jungle on a boat, studying, living, working, immersed in the wilderness I grew up loving.

I suppose it’s true to say that trauma drives me into the forest. But I think that’s too easy. I prefer to think my mom has completed a circle for me. 

So for my birthday today, my gift to myself is thanking my mom for giving me the opportunity to fall in love with the rainforest. I want to thank her for believing in me, for supporting all of my adventures, for reading my fiction and science and asking thoughtful questions, and for knowing one day I would be contributing to all of the people that I call family, literally all over the world. 

Because of her death, I took the leap into the unknown to organize a crazy, massive, visible expedition into the Amazon that complete strangers just months ago are embracing and participating in with the same passion that I have.

My mom put me on a plane to Panama many decades ago -- and now she has put me on a Houseboat in Brazil. Full circle.

Thank you mom. Thank you for my birthday.

Dedicated to Janet G. Marsh (1932-2015)