July 28, 2014

She traced her finger along the base of my scalp, right above the nape of my neck. I flinched. She said nothing, but the wordless condemnation blared out loud and clear in my head. 

I should have known I couldn’t part my hair in a straight line. What was I thinking, putting my hair in pigtails? 

My mother’s icy finger, still pointing and jeering at my pounding head, underlined the truth I already knew. 

My pigtail attempt, like so many other efforts in my life, was a failure.


Mother’s Day: CANCELLED until further notice

A leaf from Infinite's book

A leaf from Infinite’s book

Mother’s Day is a big deal in my family. A really big deal. It might not rival Christmas or Thanksgiving, but it blows birthdays and Father’s Day out of the water.

In theory, all the kids would be involved, but since my brother lives so far away the planning falls to my sister and me. Each year, a month in advance (give or take a month), one of us sends the ominous email to the other: “So, any ideas for Mother’s Day?”

We could always default to a simple lunch out or flowers, right? Wrong. Not in this family. Oh no. We have the best mom EVER, and goshdarnit, she deserves a Mother’s Day for the ages!

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I’m hugging you, Mom. Can you feel me?

My dearest Mom,

Today’s Writing 101 challenge was the easiest question I’ve had to answer in a long time. Well, except for “Are you hungry?” to which the answer is always, unequivocally, yes.

The question was this: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Like I said. That’s the easiest question in the world, because I’d be with you.

It’s not just that I’ve been living halfway across the world for a month now, though that’s certainly part of it. It’s not just that I miss you, though I miss you more than anything or anyone. It’s not even that the thought of being so far away from you for yet another month makes me shiver with homesickness.

It’s because I know you’re grieving, and can’t be there for you. They told you he’s in a coma, and I can’t be there for you. Your only brother is dying, and I can’t be there for you.

You’ve never been good at coping with death. Why would you be? You have such a big heart. You have no concern for yourself: you pour your essence into everyone you love, holding nothing back. Of course it hurts when a loved one dies. You’re losing part of yourself. I wish I could spare you, but I can’t, because your capacity to love is your greatest gift, and its price is your greatest pain.

I know you better than you know yourself, and I know you’re suffering. Politely, quietly, and utterly alone. My heart has ripped itself to shreds trying to escape its confinement and run to your side, till all that remains is a bloody pulp.

It’s okay to cry. You don’t need to be strong, or stoic, or embarrassed. You know me and I know you, and there is nothing we need to hide from one another. Give me your sorrow and let me carry it too, because you shouldn’t have to bear it alone.

You’re more than simply the woman who gave birth to me, more than just a mother. You’re a friend, a best friend, a soulmate. You mean the world to me. That’s why it’s so hard for me to know you’re in pain. Your pain is mine, and my shoulder is forever yours to cry on.

I’m here, Mom. Can you sense me? We’re sitting next to each other on your bed. The door is shut, and no one’s home. Just us two. You’re telling me how hard it is. I’m listening, Mom. Can you see me? You’re telling me how hard it is, and I’m telling you I love you. I love you, Mom. I love you so much. Can you hear me? You’re crying, you’re apologizing, but you shouldn’t, you should never apologize for being human. You’re crying, and my arms are wrapped around you, tight, tighter, squeezing and holding you together so you can let everything go. I won’t let you fall. We’re holding each other, hugging each other in silence. I’m crying, too, sharing the pain, an outpouring of love for your brother, my uncle, that can only resolve itself in grief. I’m here for you, Mom. Can you feel me?

There’s not much you can do except pray, fervently, for your dear one, and continue to live. Continue to love, even though love brings pain. And remember that love also brings comfort.

I wish I could be there with you, to hold you tight and tell you everything will be alright, but since I can’t, the warmth of my love will have to suffice. I love you with all of my heart and every fiber of my being. You know that. I hope you can feel it too.

I love you all the way to Planet X and back.