Cue the Orbison

Spending time with my mother is never peaceful. We're always on the move with errands, problems, just the distracted business of getting to the next place. 

It's always me who steps back from the chatter of the moment. "Mom."

She usually keeps talking, keeps going, keeps living life.

"Mom..."

And I'm always hesitant to say anything because my brain is never caught up with my mouth.

A few years ago, I'd interrupt but then always be too tongue-tied to continue. It was only ever later, shaking out my tangled thoughts, that I could pin down what was bothering me. But for awhile now, I've been more forthright. Mostly. Maybe not at all, because every time we're together I start out feeling like I've accepted who we are now, but then I just have to say something.

"Mom? Isn't it incredible?" (She never turns to ask what I mean. Maybe she's tired of traveling this detour with me.)

"Mom, we never talk about this, and that just seems strange. When I think of how it was..."

She always gets a little irritated at this point. Or impatient, that might be the better word. It's me who needs to figure this out, after all.

"It's like it was another world. Another life. You couldn't talk to us. You made sentences, but the sounds only made sense to you. That degree of brain damage - no one comes back from that. And yet, look at you! It's amazing!"

Definitely irritated now. My brilliant mother is just that, not that diminished woman I can't seem to stop mentioning.

I get it. The subject changes, and soon we move on in our separate ways. The times of feeling overwhelmed after this conversation seem to be past, and as I muse on it out loud here, I wonder if I'll even bring it up again with her. She has every right to want to forget.

But can I help it if I'm just so elated yet confounded? After... everything... why are we always in the middle of something mundane together? Why are we never dancing on the lawn, sparklers in each hand, a blue pitcher of iced tea with the ice knocking around. . . or just talking clearly, and clearly happy? Every time I interrupt like this, it's because I realise that we've been talking for ages, but it's never anything to remember. 

As we disperse from each other, I groggily parse the moment. These days I can sort it without waking up, without wandering into the kitchen for a cold drink and a short sit on the sofa. I roll over and remember that she is gone. Gone five years now. Five years yesterday.

When I pester her, it's in my head. Whatever we talk about before that, it's in my head. Everything is in my head.

Safe and sound, in my head.  

Love, me.

17 January 2021 |


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