It Happened Anyway

It Happened Anyway

Mom was in her hospital bed surrounded by the family she adored; her mother, two brothers and their wives along with two of her sisters and two daughters. I, being only ten and terribly shy was not very familair with my uncles and their wives, stayed in my bedroom listening to bits and pieces of a very intense conversation that seemed to have continued over the course of several days.  

They were gathered around in our cramped, but beautifully decorated living room. Mom had a way of transforming a plain room into something of grandeur. The draperies were of a hunter green color beautifully placed in the window with a cream valence that dipped perfectly in the center. The balance of the two colors was perfectly paired just enough to bring out the oriental rug that lay in the center of the carpeted floor. Several golden pictures and sconces graced the walls giving the room a look of elegance making it fit for a the woman I considered a queen. She often thought of different ways to pass the days of her confinement, one of them being her creativity in remodeling the  the room with different decorations that were of a modern style. As the family continued to talk I carefully moved closer to the bedroom door to hear more clearly trying not to give the indication of eavesdropping.

” It has to be done your health is important and you’re not improving. You need round the clock care and she needs to be somewhere to be a kid not to bear the burden, you brought her this far let one of us take her the rest of the way.” My uncle Jesse said to her in a calm voice trying to get his point across without seeming exasperated. I waited for an answer from my Mom, but could not hear a response.  I assumed she nodded her head solemnly because after a brief pause I heard my Aunt Jane say, “then it’s settled, she will go to Philadelphia to live and get situated just before her new term begins.” My heart sank and I knew we were now defeated. All the years of my attempts to keep my mom and I together failed. It was two weeks before I was to start middle school and the pure joy I felt for leaving elementary behind with the constant annoyance of the counselor was short lived. I thought for sure we prevailed and all the of the negative thoughts and being on edge about my mother’s multiple sclerosis was behind us. My knees buckled and I slid down the wall silently crying careful to muffle my moans. I had never been so hurt and scared.  Why can’t they ask me how I feel, ask me do I feel burdened or if I want to stay or go.  Then a pang of a different fear seared through me, maybe Mommy is tired and doesn’t want to deal with me anymore; perhaps I’ve become too much and she is unable to continue on. I may be a burden to her and she wants to let go.”Cendee come here please.” My Aunt Jane called from the living room. I stiffened instantly caught off guard, “be right there!” I responded curtly. I got up from the floor and wiped my face excessively trying to leave no indication I had been weeping. I waited another moment and checked my mirror looking at my face trying to make myself look tired instead of hurt so there was no indication of what I just overheard. I walked to the door and opened it slowly bracing myself for all the eyes that would be on me within seconds. 

“Come here dear”. Aunt Jane said as I scooted across the floor hesitating with each step I took.  I rubbed my eyes as if I had been awaken from a deep sleep feigning fatigue. I looked over at my Mom seeing the hurt in her eyes knowing this was a devastating decision for her, but couldn’t grasp her reason for succumbing to their plan. She turned her gaze as my uncle reached for my hand.

“Do you want to come live with me and be my little girl? We will take good care of you and get you situated in school. We’d love to have you.” I looked at him and smiled, but did not answer directly because the answer was emphatically no. I looked around and saw all eyes on me burning my flesh making me incredibly uneasy. Without hesitation I took my hand from his and walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water. As I drank it I stared out of the window and thought to myself I would have never guessed that their first time visit to our home here would be to take me away from my mother. Feeling suffocated I placed the glass into to the sink, walked out to the living and asked if I could go outside, she shook her head yes. I went into my room put my sneakers on and cringed at the thought of having to walk back out there in front of everyone silently wishing we had a back door I could escape from. I sped past and mumbled see you later as I went out the front door. I ran to my friends house and racked on the door, when she finally opened, with tears I my eyes I blurted, “I’m going to Philadelphia to live, they all made the decision for me no one cares what I think I never imagined this was what their visit was for!” “Come in, tell me everything that happened,” she said and closed the door. I gave her every detail spewing out everything I heard over the past hour and sat in silence feeling resigned. My friend took my hand and sat in silence with me as tears flowed down my face consoling me in the only way she knew I would accept. I stayed out as long as I possibly could waiting for the house to clear out, watching for the last guest to leave our home.  

I walked into the house that my mother made so beautifully for the both us and said goodnight to my her, “Cendee?” She called out and I stopped to looked at her. With tears in her eyes in a quiet tone she said goodnight to me as if it was a final farewell. I looked at her woundedly and gave a grimace of a smile,!walked hesitantly into my room and cried myself to sleep.

A few days later I was packed for my departure,  I looked at my room which was moments away from being a memory of my life with Mom and me. My pink floral comforter was neatly splayed across my bed with my peppermint kitty sitting in the middle as it always had. I looked at my favorite picture on the wall that was of the precious memories angels with a loving poem entitled, “Sleep Sweetly” that my mother ordered for me a few years prior to this day. With a jolt I heard, “Come say goodbye to your Mom Cendee, it’s time to go”, Aunt Jane called out. With a heavy heart I walked out of what was no longer my room and into the living room towards my moms hospital bed.”Bye Mommy”, I said with a giant lump in my throat. She could barely utter a word and said bye in a whisper. I hugged and kissed her and left out of the apartment door as if I was walking the plank.  At my uncles car his family was seated inside already having said goodbye to everyone and there stood my oldest sister with a gift for me. I opened it reluctantly remembering all the years of presents she presented me with. It was a Minnie Mouse watch with a black wrist ban and Minnie in a pink dress I smiled and timidly gave her a kiss which was never the type if affection we showed one another. She opened the car door for me, I got in strapped my seat belt and we started on the road to Philadelphia. I refused to look back as we were pulling out of the parking lot and closed my eyes trying not to cry.  I had no idea what was going to happen in this new journey I was embarking. The day was muggy and gloomy just the same as my mood.  I rode in silence looking out of the window wondering if the weather was a precursor for my next destination; I was leaving the one person who would always love me no matter what. 

Remembering The Day

Remembering The Day

“She’s gone,” my sister whimpered on the other side of the phone. I broke down into uncontrollable tears shaking vigorously. I dropped my savvy flip phone and watched as it spun around in continuous circles on the ground. It was May 2005 and at the age of twenty I lost my mother feeling as if I had been orphaned in adulthood. A quick sensation of being submerged into a nightmare trying to wake from an alternate reality took hold of me. My purpose in life just took her last breath and a plethora of memories along with remorse flooded my mind. I never had the chance to find her better help or take care of her; self condemnation, frustration, pain, and emptiness coursed through my body, the more my mind circled around the situation the more sorrow pierced my heart and there was nothing I could do now except grieve. The only solace I had at this moment was being able to say goodbye and the extra ten years we had together should have felt like a gift as people would frequently volunteer the fact that ten years was more than I should expect.  I felt like it was not enough I selfishly still wanted her here with me. After all she had been through, how could I choose to want her to stay in this world? The pain she endured, the daily deterioration, and nearly giving her life so I could exist; how could I ask her to do more? Her journey ended and she left this world with her imprints on me. But none of these things mattered now she was gone and I was a lost, empty, shell of a person reverting back to my childhood.

“Cendee will you go down to the counselor’s office please she would like to have a word with you.” My fifth grade teacher said with a smile on her face trying to reassure me that I was not in trouble. Not again I thought to myself, of course I knew I was not in trouble I never had been a difficult child in school, in fact most of my years I was too quiet which is why the counselor wanted to speak with me she assumed I was depressed. I walked out of the room and down the newly remodeled staircase thinking of the fastest way I could end this session as I proceeded to the door of the counselor’s office.I knocked lightly, as she opened the door she had the expression on her face that I had become accustomed to; one of pity, but somehow it displayed kindness at the same time. I knew right away what this conversation was going to be about just as the time before this and the time before that, my Mother.I looked around the room and could see various pictures that were drawn by the different students in the school. One of my peers made a picture of a family with a mother, father, a little girl, and a boy. Another picture was of a house with a little girl and pets playing in the grass. The last picture I took notice of was a simple rainbow nothing else, just an ordinary rainbow. As I observed it I thought to myself I wonder what the illustrator wanted at the end of the rainbow, I could think of quite a few things I would want in my little word. I turned my face from the drawings and immediately hardened. I put my game face on and braced myself because I was well aware of what was to come next from this spontaneous visit.

“Good morning Cendee. How are you feeling this morning?” She said to me with a smile on her face probably believing this was the day she was going to break me, but as usual I played along. “I’m fine thank you, how are you today?” “I’m well and glad to see you this morning.” she said. I smiled politely, but I refused to say the same as it would have been a lie. “Do you know why I called you down here today?” I started to roll my eyes, but abruptly stopped myself as I knew it was disrespectful. Of course I know why you are calling me down here lady you want to ask me the same questions over and over about my Mom, her M.S., how it makes me feel, do I feel safe, would I like to live elsewhere?…blah blah blah. I decided to play coy. “No ma’am I don’t, am I in some sort of trouble?” “Of course not dear, I just wanted to check on you and see how things were going with your schooling, friends, and your Mom?” I had to hand it to her she always had a way of trying to make it seem as if these visits were about anything but my home life, we both knew the sole purpose of these talks. “I got a B on my math test, I studied hard for it, I can’t wait for our upcoming field trip to the museum I’m excited about it. I also ran pretty well in the mile run, I got a decent time it wasn’t what I wanted, but I’ll have a chance to run it again if I wish.” As I answered her my eyes were big and bright and for some reason it seemed as if she was drawn in , reading right through me but I knew she had no clue as to my thoughts. I quickly averted my eyes and began to change the subject.After these frequent visits I started to catch on to what I could see she was trying to do, at first I was naïve to the entire situation and thought she just wanted to see how I was doing. I was ten years old and already learning how to act, whether they believed me or not I still am unsure till this very day, but I was still with my mom so that told me it was working. “And your Mom, sweetheart, how are things going with her?” And there it was, the real reason for my visit, forget everything else I just said and drive on into what she considered was the heart of our conversation. ”She’s great, yesterday evening we had pizza and breadsticks for dinner; talked about the bible and watched the Golden Girls”, which was all true. “That seems like it was a good evening sounds like fun. What about her health, you didn’t mention anything about that?” I pictured my mom in her hospital bed in the living room, having trouble trying to feed herself and the frequent muscle spasms she continuously endured in her legs because of the Multiple Sclerosis. Her feet were starting to lean over and her hands were starting to fail her just as her legs had. She was a strong woman, strong in her faith in God and did not complain just tried to make the most of the life that she had. “She’s good, she has good and bad days just like the rest of us, but she’s great, I can not image what I would do without her.” The counselor looked at me with her brow furrowed, as if I just spoke in a foreign language. “I hear that her health has been declining and I thought we could maybe discuss how that makes you feel.” How do you think it makes me feel, I thought exasperatedly. I am 10 years old and at that age most mothers can tuck their children in bed at night, do their laundry, pick them up from school, cook them dinner, but my mom could not. She never could do those things for me and it was a raging pain that only consumed me when I allowed it to and this moment definitely would not be used for that.I straightened my face and said, “She’s the only mother I have ever known, I don’t like that she is in the bed, but what the two of us have is an incredible bond and I would not trade it for anything. I love my mom and I know she loves me.” The counselor looked at me intently and started to speak, but stopped abruptly and pursed her lips. “I’m sure you do and she’s very lucky to have you for a daughter.” “Thanks, can I go now?” I said feeling the tears starting to welt behind my eyes and the large knot filling the back of my throat. “Of course you can, I’m always here if you need me.” She smiled. I believed her when she said it, but I would never take her up on her offer because I knew if I gave the verity of my feelings they would take me away from my mom. 

I casually strolled out of her office before I had melt-down and went straight to the bathroom. I went into the stall and started to cry. Allowing the flood of emotions I had repressed during the session with her drain out of me before I went back to the classroom. When I finished I wiped my tears looked into the mirror and saw my overlarge round eyes looking back at me, anguished, scared, bright, but strong and waited for the redness to leave my face.I walked mechanically out of the bathroom and down to class ashamed and angry for crying; curious if anyone knew my situation.The rest of the day I daydreamed and allowed my mind to circle around my circumstances thinking of my biggest fear; someone taking me away from my mother, praying everything I just told the counselor sufficed and would allow me another day with a mother who was my life. How much longer would this continue before my little world came crashing in and all that I knew was lost. All I could do was wait…