I walk up the center aisle and kneel in front of her.
“Where I come from,” I pause thinking about every memory, every tear, every ounce of pain. I hold so much hurt, too many regrets and so much resentment. I can’t say that though. I’m taking too long to continue.
“Where I come from,” Think of something, anything.
“Where I come from, the one who helped get me through my first soccer game,” Good. Safe. Keep going.
“The one who kissed my boo-boo after falling from the monkey bars.” I can’t keep this going.
“The one who made me feel safe.” I can’t do this.
“While these things may be true, it’s the untold truths, the untold pain that holds a resounding place in my heart and mind.” I can’t help the truths that come pouring out of me. I know this is the most inappropriate time, but I can’t stop.
“It’s the screaming because her morphine has run out. It’s the never-ending phone calls that I’ve made. The same line of 911 what’s your emergency? The endless cycle of not knowing how to get to school in the morning. Feeling like a burden because nothing you do feels like it’s seen or noticed except the small daily mistakes that prove your nothing but imperfect.” Why am I doing this.
I freeze as the memories play through my head.
I remember I’m walking through the front door after my first day of middle school. I had started at a brand new school with not knowing anyone, and was so excited because for once I felt like I could make it in school without being miserable, and judged constantly.
That is, until I open the door and am reminded of why it is that I’m different. I’m reminded of the thing that separates me from the others. Why I couldn’t fit in or make friends anywhere else.
I open the door to the normal scene. Arm dangling, lips stained blue, passed out on the couch. Bags scattered everywhere without a single clue as to what occupies the space within them. It’s best left unknown quite frankly.
I hear someone clear their throat.
“It’s not hatred I hold in my heart.” I don’t think it is.
I remember the fear every morning waking up not knowing what kind of day it would be. Will she be awake? Will I be able to talk to her without an argument? I don’t try to argue, but when talking about my struggles in school, or with friends, turns into a conversation about her feeling sorry for herself I can’t continue to sit there and listen to it again and again.
“I think at one point she was beautiful, that life with her in it was beautiful.” Not that I remember a single minute of it.
“She loved her kids and devoted her entire self to giving and loving every ounce of the life that she created. I only fear she gave too much, and that at some point along the way there was nothing left to give.”
I can vividly see her blank stare in my mind. The one she always held when there was so little left of her that day she could hardly muster to stay awake for a few minutes.
“For years, I blamed myself. Thought maybe I was part of the reason she cracked. Maybe I added too much pressure in her life. Maybe if I wasn’t there, things would be different. Things would be better. She would be better.”
I hear the muffled cries from my little brother as we rush him from the hospital room that she is having a crazy break down in. It breaks my heart. She will not hurt him anymore. The pressure I felt to make sure he knew love, and care. That’s my role. I wrap him in my arms and tell him I will get him something yummy from the vending machine. I was Twelve.
“Why did no one help? Everyone gave up. Everyone forgot and pretended that the issue surrounding my every day life was nothing but a nuisance, like it was just some pesky thing I had to deal with.”
I lost weight. I lost a lot of weight. I didn’t want to eat because it was the one thing in my life that I could control. It made me feel good to know that if I couldn’t control a single other thing in my life at least I could mentally stop myself from indulging in something that everyone else did. It made me feel strong.
“It wasn’t. It was so much more than that. We couldn’t live. We couldn’t create memories together as a big happy family that everyone else I knew was spending time doing. She was destroying all the life in me and draining any strength I had left. It broke me. I had to let go. I stopped talking to her.” Maybe that wasn’t right. Maybe I feel an incredible amount of guilt to this day that I wasted two years she was on this earth ignoring every phone call and excusing myself from every visit.
“Where I come from? I come from a someone who hurt me. I come from someone who made me feel like my existence on this earth was not worthy of love and respect. I come from someone who lost themselves and took down the ones they loved most with them. I come from pain and suffering. I come from a situation where everything felt hopeless and exhausting.”
I can breathe. In this very moment, I can breathe. I’m not lying anymore. I’m not saying the things I should be but it has never felt so good to get something off my chest.
“Where I come from?”…
I look in the casket, as the weight on my shoulders starts to subside and the tears fall from my eyes knowing I was finally able to say the things I never could.
Now, the anger and resentment is just pain. She’s gone. She’ll never blow up my phone with a hundred calls. She’ll never hug me again. She’ll never tell me I’m beautiful. She’ll never console me after a sad ending to a good book. She’ll never meet any of my kids. She won’t be at my wedding.
Is it possible that all the hatred and disgust I held for her, was really just me masking the truth? It was my way to cope with what I knew would eventually come one day sooner, rather than later. To help ease the pain that I knew would subsequentially follow the inevitable ending to this story. My story. Is it possible that I did in fact love her?
“Where I come from? She was beautiful, she was brave, she fought demons that no one else could possibly fathom, she was strong, she was fierce, and she… was my mom.”
All these things, that are swirling around my head playing on repeat as I stare at her. Holding her hand for the very last time. Having this internal monologue of the things I wished I had actually spoken at her funeral. Instead, I squeeze her hand one last time, and without a word make my way back to my seat as the emptiness of my new reality began to set in.