when she drifts off, I realize I am holding my mother's hands for
the first time in my life. I feel the tears and start to sink when
the voice comes again, reminding me, she is a monster, she
is a monster, nostalgia is not needed or welcomed right now.
I hear the voice issue a massive warning, retreat, retreat
behind the walls, quickly, this is not an attack we could have anticipated,
the dragon is going after the dragon slayer's heart!
I stay. And when she pulls away, I feel her pain overwhelming her.
I stand and go into the tiny kitchen and get her pill, I find a
spoon, wash it, and with the pill in the spoon, I add water
and lift it to her mouth. She takes it and is instantly relaxed.
I cover her and notice how blue her feet are becoming and her hands
coming to an end soon, I know it, I can feel it, and I still don't
know why I am here. Why I, of all her children. Why I, whose very
life is one long fuck-you to her. Why am I here nursing her on what
is looking to be her last night on the planet? Is it as simple as
quid pro quo, she was there for my first, I am here for her last?
And what did Dad mean I was the only one he could trust, what crap.
4:30 in the morning when, once again, I awake to her moving about.
She is half-mumbling, but moving quickly, she stretches and tugs
at her nightgown, not happy with it. I try to calm her but she is
not having it and I just sit, waiting for her to get tired. But
then she gets her gown halfway up and then all the way up and I
watch as my mother takes off her nightgown and gathers it in a wad
under her chin.
simply stunned. Stunned. I have never seen my mother's breasts.
I have never thought of her as a woman, so it stands to reason I
certainly have never thought of her as having breasts, let alone
a vagina. But there she is, no dragon, no monster, just a woman.
Like me. Similar breasts. I look at my own and compare. Huh, I am
never thought of my mother as a woman. She is just a woman, yes
a tortured, saddened dark woman, but at the end of the journey,
just a woman.
I argue with the voice, she's just a woman.
at her! She's a little, old, frail, dying woman. No dragon more
powerful than me, she is just a woman.
is a monster, the voice argues, and I am crying, trying
to get to this, this voice in my head, screaming at me, telling
me how stupid I am to give in to the cliché of softening
in battle just because someone is dying. And then something starts
to click, but then the voice, louder, more powerful. She's
a monster, you idiot, don't you remember? She is a monster and you
are too stupid to remember.
then, in the silence of a breath, I recognize the voice. It is
my mother's voice, just as clear as it was all those years ago
when I was so small and she was so big.
could I not have known this sooner? Through all my self-help books
and my self-help friends, there were still the friendships that
I had written off along the way because of this transgression, or
that offense. How did I not hear it sooner? My fear of change, my
inability to have any relationship with the word "forgive"
other than what I found in the dictionary? How?
is one moment.
in the next moment I forgive, I forgive her for the obvious; I forgive
him for the not-so-obvious.
I also forgive myself, for not knowing better and being too powerless
to change it. I forgive it all. This is the real deal. True forgiveness
feels better than the battle of fear the voice and I have waged
all those years.
then the voice disappears. Completely.
moment forgiveness becomes more than a word, I am released and I
a bit, I return to the room from the carnage of my internal battlefield
and all I see is a woman lying on the top of her blanket.
woman, exhausted from the battle as well. I ever so quietly ask,
"Mama, would you like a different nightgown?" She nods.
I get her one and I dress her, the way she must have once dressed
me. She must have! Right?
tell her what I have learned in my travels, that these hands, identical
to hers, have learned a gentle touch. I demonstrate the loving way.
I check a forehead for fever. I pull the covers up over her chest
and I brush the hair back from her face and I sit holding her hand
for the second time in my life, 'til the morning light.
my mother's daughter, though no child will ever know the touch of
my hand delivered in anger.
my mother's daughter though no one will ever go hungry in my presence.
my mother's daughter though my anger comes and goes but I own it
and I try to attend to all the bruises I may carelessly inflict.
my mother's daughter because I have taken the life she offered and
said no to it and forged my own way.
my mother's daughter because her/my stubbornness almost kept me
from what I would only learn here, could only learn here.
my biggest challenge now lay in a clean gown in a hospital bed,
sleeping peacefully, hours away from death.
the morning Boomer comes slinking in, looking a little parched.
I take the Circle K Day Breaker Travel Cup, pry off the top and
give him some water. And when he's lapped down as far as he can
without falling in, I get him some more water and hold him while
then I put him down, because
he is, after
and a Chihuahua.
later, as she dies, the dragon slayer watches the dragon breathe
then, as Daddy throws himself onto the bed, crying out, "No,
no!" and my brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles pile into the
tiny apartment and begin to wail loudly, the dragon slayer gets
in her rental car and drives to a nearby lake and sits outside,
underneath thick, water-heavy Texas clouds. And she sits 'til the
rain comes and washes away what armor is left. Her sword disappears,
her heart is laid bare, and she cries and she doesn't die.
I am what is left.
PAGE 1 2
version for easy reading
material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission|