May 5, 2012
Trying to catch
for a safe landing.
The wind has been knocked out of me.
It may feel like white hot briquettes are being fanned in your chest.
My heavy chest rises.
Breathe. Deeper this time.
Steve is talking to me. I try to focus on the words. Dinosaurs. Bugging you. In the back of your mind.
“Hey kid.” The sound of snapped fingers, I am back to him. I look up, meet his eyes.
“Yes?” I linger on the word, melt it from my mouth.
“You o.k.?” He asks.
“I am.” In that one moment I am certain of that. I am fully aware of o.k.ness.
Steve smiles, goes back to the orchestra of sound he creates in the kitchen. Teaspoons dropping on each other in a drawer. Oatmeal transferred from the cardboard Quaker Oats box into a plastic container. The whisper of a cotton dishtowel over a porcelain plate. Water running. The sound of the tomato flesh giving way to serrated blade.
Crushing the Quaker Oat box, Steve comments “130 years and counting. That’s cool…………..Way Cool.”
I am 57 and counting.
Lately I’ve been hearing you, a little voice inside of me.
“I miss you.”
“I miss you too.” I answer.
And I write to you. Because you always understood, understand. There is a mother tongue mine, to yours.
Today is Saturday. I have not seen my dad for two weeks and one day.
Yesterday, a text.
Sherry, Dad would really like a visit from you. Charge nurse said make your appointment with the social worker right away so you may do that. Oh need to tell, still NO outside foods. Didn’t want you to bring something all the way from and be told no by the nurses or docs. So make that appointment, have that meeting and go to go to visiting.
I can’t do crazy.
It took me years to separate from it.
To shield you and your sister from it.
But did I really? Shield you from it?
My past so much a part of me.
Always driving me. Away. Always running. Away.
Even in my dreams, I was not safe.
It was hard to see, experience the world around me as I gathered speed for lift off. My focus always forward, on some point perceived better than where I was.
I thought motherhood would come naturally. Instinctively.
The instinct I felt was a fierce need to protect and love you. What was in my heart I knew. The rest I had to learn.
Did my mom ever feel the fierce need to protect and love me? I can’t remember. She died five years ago, and I can’t ask her.
A question haunted me months after your death, did you know how much I love you, loved you from that first moment I knew your cells were dividing, creating you in my womb?
“You should have an abortion.” You yelled at me before you died two months later.
“You never wanted me.” You sobbed at me through the phone.
“Where ever would you get that idea?” I asked—core melting down. “I chose to have you. I never wanted anything more than to hold you in my arms and see your little face.”
I chose to have you.
Gathering speed for lift off.
Hoping instinct was enough.
Weaning you from my breast when you were two. Holding your hand crossing the street. Making sure your vaccinations were current. Feeding you, bathing you, clothing you, reading you stories, teaching you, teaching you, teaching you.
All the time learning.
My focus on points ahead. Lifting off. Trying to pay attention to you and Erin.
Montessori, Head Start, Girl Scouts, Blue Birds, Seattle Girls Choir, Dance Lessons, Ski Lessons, Summer Camps. Disney World, Disney Land, Disney Cruises. Cabbage Patch Dolls, My Little Pony, Barbie Dolls and Barbie Clothes.
The first time I left you at a daycare. I pulled out of the parking lot, you at the window lifting a blade of the venetian blind, sobbing. I could see you calling for me—“Mommy” as a hand appeared, pulling you from the window. You were two.
I made it up as I went. Mothering. With no experiences I wanted draw on.
You and your sister expecting me to know, to be an expert.
Me trying to be mother, father, grandma, grandpa. Filling in all the blank spaces left behind.
I have not seen my dad for two weeks. The grandpa you did not know. The father I ran away to Remann Hall to get away from. The father I reconciled with and grew close to in these later years for both of us. Forgiveness has as been as good for me as it was for him.
Sherry, your dad would really like a visit from you.
I am tentative about walking back into crazy.
I can’t do crazy anymore.
And now I have a choice.
Love you—thanks for watching over me.