The Relationship We Could Have Had

Mourning the mother-daughter connection I never had

Margarita Gokun Silver
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readMay 6, 2019


Illustration: Alberto Miranda

TThe water is warm, the sound of an alto accompanied by a guitar streams in, and candles flicker overhead. My 15-year-old daughter and I sit side by side in a large water-filled room of Sevilla’s Baños Arabes. We listen to the singer switch from Portuguese fado to Spanish bolero to Frank Sinatra’s legato, and I think that this right here is the most perfect moment of our mother-daughter weekend.

“Margarita.” An attendant steps into the room and waves to me. “Time to go upstairs.”

We climb several flights of stairs and emerge on the roof, where the blue pool with jets overlooks the Giralda, Sevilla’s famous minaret-turned-bell-tower. There, we relax for a few more minutes, watching the sun reflect off the Giralda’s towering Giraldillo and listening to the call of church bells swaying all around us. This is the most perfect moment, I decide.

And then I change my mind. There is no one moment that’s more perfect than the other. This entire weekend has been like a field of peonies by a volcanic lake at the foot of a mountain. Not only because of Sevilla and its charm, but also because my daughter and I spent it together. Mostly because of that.

The next morning, as the train rushes by the olive groves at 250 kph, I decide to Skype my own mother as soon as we get back to Madrid. We haven’t spoken all weekend, and she doesn’t like to be ignored. In my head, I go over everything I’d like to share with her: A full-moon stroll through Alcazar’s halls and gardens where we learned bits of Spanish history through actors who took us back in time. The free tour that enchanted an impatient teen enough to walk by my side for three hours in the scorching sun. The flamenco show which, although intense in its artistry, made us look at each other and agree that flamenco wasn’t really our thing. And the connection I feel with my daughter after each one of these strictly mother-daughter experiences. The connection I miss having with my own mother.

Only I am not going to share that last part.

Leaving my father alone to visit her only daughter is something my mother isn’t willing to do.