My mother cried.
My father was not present.
She always told me we didn’t need him.
One and one makes two, which is a part of the Fibonacci sequence.
The next part is two and one makes three, which we lost. The very beginning is zero and one makes one.
Everyone likes to forget that part because zero is too hard to conceptualize. Maybe not logically, because even some birds understand zero logically, but emotionally it is still too hard for us to grasp.
It is too hard to have to be alone. It is not easy to look at the dark core of ourselves, where no favorable light shines, and see the good and the bad and figure out what we bring to the world and to relationships with others. Sometimes the hard thing is the right thing.
My mother chose the easy option, the wrong option, and so her sequence started off poorly with my father. She admitted that they fought all the time, and sometimes he would get physical and other times he would just leave for days without calling, but she knew that he still loved her. She loved him. Besides, being with him at his worst was still better than being alone. Then she got pregnant and everything seemed to be working out. A baby would fix everything. Two and one makes three.
She always told me we didn’t need him, but I knew better. My mother taught me to read and write and count. She taught me how to ride a bike and style my hair. She taught me about Lord Byron and Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley and Fibonacci. She was the one who taught me that one and one makes two, and one and two makes three. I knew what we were missing, but I also knew she was trying to give it to me. She was trying to be everything for me, and so I had to be everything for her. I was my mother’s best friend because she did not have anyone else, and for many years I was happy to be her everything. I tried my hardest to quickly grow up into the adult she wanted, or needed, me to be.
It was destined not to last. I was just a child and failed her time and time again, or so I felt. I did not have the right words to say and did not know what the right thing to do always was. I could see the disappointment in her face when I failed her. Sometimes she even told me how disappointed she was in me, and I was ashamed that I could not be her perfect golden ratio golden child. She was often moody, and unpredictable. Sometimes she would be the one to get physical, and I was still always afraid that someday she might leave me like my father had left her. One and one makes two, and one and zero makes one. I knew she had not started the sequence for us off correctly, but I could not let it slip backwards more than it had. I had to keep us moving forward together because I also believed that was the way things were supposed to be. My efforts only served to slow the inevitable. We were suspended in a state of not moving forward or backward. To move backwards meant heart ache and pain deeper than I thought either of us could stand. To move forward meant putting in work to progress, which would be hard. I thought it would be worth it. She always chose the easier option.
It started out slowly, almost imperceptibly, but we were moving backwards and she didn’t seem to care. I had failed her for the last time and there was no changing the course of our destiny. At first, she was sullen and withdrawn, but then she really started to spiral. She lashed out when I tried to help her. She told me I was ungrateful, that I had held her back from having the life she was meant to have. Looking back, I can see now that she was trying to push me away to accelerate her backsliding. I could not see that then. All I could see was my mother, my everything, my one, telling me how much she hated me. She was baiting me to leave, and I took the bait. If she wanted to be alone, then let her. I was never able to be alone like I needed to be, so I thought it would be best for both of us. She baited me with distance and I took the bait. I will always regret that. I know now that after I moved out, started my own life, and got some distance from her that I was beginning to thrive, but she only got worse. She was alone for the first time in her whole life, and she could not stand it. It seems that no one could stand it.
The cops called me because they had no one else to call. She had taken what had been her private habit of lashing out and made it public. They told me she needed to be put somewhere that she could be taken care of by professionals, but I wouldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t allow it. She was my mother and I didn’t think she could be that bad. I understood then that she was doing it all of these horrible things for attention, not to be alone, and it would be cruel to isolate her somewhere. I thought I could help her, but she still had so much hate for me. She had even more since I had left her. It was my fault things had gotten so bad, and I needed to fix my mistakes. She was my mother. She was my one.
She had been my everything once, and now she was determined to take all of that away from me. If I thought I had seen her rage before, I hadn’t seen anything. When she got in the right mood now, everything would be taken up in a reckless twister of broken glass and cutting words. I had to get rid of her medicines, cleaners, sharp objects, and shoelaces, and more than once she outwitted me, but lived to deride me for it. I had to pay for her mistakes.
“You never loved me,” she accused. I told her no, but wondered: did I love her? Had she ever truly loved me? Or had she simply loved me for who I was to her; a mini version of herself to project her dreams and aspirations onto? I had fallen terribly short, and that was unforgiveable.
“Do you want me gone?” She asked, because she wanted it. I told her I wanted us to be our own people. There was no room for love in the vortex of her despair.
“I gave you everything!” Every kind word I gave her was thrown aside and every criticism was kept close and nurtured.
How could I have ever wanted to be more than my mother’s everything?
Now she is gone and I have nothing.
I am truly alone now.
Living and breathing.