“I can’t do this right now.”
She was entering hospice the following day and I needed to know why. After all, she was choosing to leave. Sure, she would’ve died eventually, but she could have stayed longer. She could’ve opted for medical intervention instead of just being ‘up for a miracle.’ She could’ve tried, but she didn’t. I needed to know why. Why was I never a priority? Why wasn’t I enough of a reason? It started in second grade for fuck sake. What the hell could I have done that would cause her to condone the systematic abuse of a seven year old? Where was her righteous indignation back then? What words did she use to justify her silence, and why now, with only months to live, was I still not worth the truth?
“Take me home.”
She had a tone. Her tone, combined with the look, made it clear she would be taking my why’s to her grave.
Honestly, I didn’t need the why, I wanted her to give a shit. I knew why. Her incessant need for acceptance had caused her to be everything to everyone except me. I was a constant. I would always be there. I had no other options. I watched as she was manipulated by friends, men, anyone who sensed her brokenness. I saw through their bullshit and she tried to kill the messenger. I was instructed to stand still, look pretty, and never, ever, rock the boat. She wasn’t able to see the little girl begging for her mommy or the almost adult begging for closure. When she looked at me, she saw a monster holding a mirror and she ran. She ran to the back of her mind where she was safe from hard questions and inconvenient truths; where she was safe from her reflection.
By Thanksgiving, cancer controlled her mind. By Christmas, I realized I’d never hear what I thought I needed to hear.
I was almost out the door when I turned around and picked up the phone. I asked my grandfather to put it next to her ear. I knew she couldn’t respond. I knew there was little chance she’d understand, but I knew what I needed to say, “I forgive you. Please forgive yourself.”
“She’s had a rough day and she’s finally asleep. Let’s let her rest. You can talk to her tomorrow.”
My mother died December 26, 1995. She was 49 years old. I was at work. I was too late.
She’s still everywhere and I’m still trying to save her. My friends, my relationships, I seek the broken. I force hard conversations and demand truth. I struggle with patience. To many, I am still the monster holding the mirror. Most aren’t even interested in being saved and certainly not by a monster.