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.