It's November 30th, 1996. Surprisingly, there is no sign of snow in the Northern hemisphere. I was born and raised here. I remember, my mother looking through the window and praying for a green Christmas. She was a very superstitious woman, and she used to say that when winter was late, luck was near.
I decided this morning that it was time for me to clean her dormitory. She passed away a week ago. For some people, it's too early and inconsiderate, but for me, she left a long time ago. Six months had passed since the unfortunate accident that put her in a coma. She was on her way to visit my sister Emily and meet her newborn child, but she never made it there.
For half a year, I visited her every day. I saw her hair growing; I saw the nurses shaving her head again. Wounded, broken... I saw her losing weight, tied up to all sort of machines. I sat next to her. I held her hand and brought novels to read; she never acknowledged anything I said or did. She remained inside herself, living an eternal dream.
I read her our favorite classics: Wuthering Heights, Little women, and other novels. I missed her profoundly; I spent my entire life sharing the house with her. I could say she was my best friend, and she did for me anything a mother could do.
Every day since the accident, I went to her quiet room and sat on her bed under the fainting light. I slept there for several nights. I'm a full-grown man. I'm too frightened to let people know that, deep inside, I'm still a mama's boy. Every time I sat on that bed, I became a seven-year-old child.
I love to smell her pillow and look at her paintings. She was an artist and a very talented one. Her art fills all the walls from top to bottom, and still, inside her closet, I can count twenty sketches more all pilled up.
I pet our family cat and look in detail at each masterpiece, vivid colors, and well-placed shades. I think there are at least fifty years of work in this room.
I stand up and start the clean-up. Some of these belongings will go to charity, and some others will stay within the family. We will need to discuss this with my siblings.
I open an old drawer. I see six wigs: Curly, wavy, blond, black, scarlet, and more. My mother was a unique lady and adored changing her look as many times as she fancied.
She was a fan of Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland. I remember our nights dancing charleston and jazz. I have rich memories of our happiest times; I remember her with a mournful smile on my face. When I come out of my daydream, I glimpse myself in the mirror, and I can't help but laugh, the shocking red wig placed on my head. I would say I even look like a natural redhead!
Still wearing my brand-new hair, I continue my chores. I find a jewelry box full of rings, necklaces, and bracelets; I look at the gemstones with astonished eyes. The emerald bijoux set matches perfect my locks. If I learned something from my mother, it was that red and green are complementary colors.
On top of her night table, I see metallic nail polish, shimmery lipstick, the eyeshadow palette. I start doing my makeup with all dedication. Suddenly a memory strikes me. I remember this twelve-year-old who got beaten up by his military father, for not acting manly enough. It was a long time ago that he died. My old man must be writhing in his grave right now, but I couldn't care less, I'm an adult, and I'm not scared of ghosts anymore.
Looking around, I find one painting that stands out. It's the figure of a lady; with a sumptuous green dress, flowers on her hair, and a long cigarette hanging on her lips. This woman looks like a rebel. She resembles everything I always wanted to be. She stares at me and appears to call me. I feel captivated by her elegance.
When I take the canvas down the wall, I turn it around and see a message in the back. I can read: " You will be what you should be, or you will be nothing at all"; Astounded, I try to control my anxiety, I try to order my thoughts, but it's nearly impossible.
It's almost as if I was hearing her. Her words falling slowly from her lips, sinking in the depths of my mind, anchoring and reverberating there.
I place the image back where I found it, when I back up I realize that one of my emerald earnings fell under the bed. I reach to look for it, and I discover a box. It has my name written on it. I can read: To my sweet Edgard, with love, Momma. I rush up to open the mysterious box, and inside I find the most stunning purple dress and a precious pair of cha-cha heels. I know well; good girls don't wear cha-cha heels.
I stare at my mother's picture in surprise, how could she possibly know? I thought that I did an excellent job hiding the whole reality; after realizing that my father wasn't going to accept a homosexual in the house.
Now I'm fully adorned. I comb my wig and admire my reflection from all angles. I analyze every word profoundly:
" You will be what you should be, or you will be nothing at all"... I comprehend that existing is a cherished gift, and I can't subsist if I don't embrace what I yearned for my entire life.
My mother not only gave me a pair of shoes and a sparkling dress. With her passing, she presented me with the relief that comes with liberty, and believe it or not... This sense of freedom came in a box.
I will be grateful forever for this second chance that I received. This ending is truly a beginning. I'm attempting to be, without seeking to become.