When my mom passed away a few years ago it made me re-process our life together.
She was only forty when she died. A life half lived. It was ironic, really.
She was the most passionate person I ever knew. She was fearless.
But she was taken away while people who are afraid to live their lives keep on breathing.
(I felt the need to pity myself just then.)
When I was in college I went to visit her.
We were riding in the car and out of nowhere she told me that I am
"the best thing that ever happened to her."
I just sat there. Stunned. We just didn't have conversations like that. We just didn't.
Getting teary eyed she continued "Having you, saved my life."
I remember the silence.
And I remember the question burning in my mind....
One day, at the confusing age of twelve, I went with my mom to one of her prenatal appointments. After they weighed her and marked some info on her charts, the nurse led her to to a back room and I had to awkwardly stand and wait at the counter where they had left me. She was due any day with my youngest brother Caleb. Flipping through my mom's chart I saw records of the births of my two younger brothers. I saw my birthday:) and then I saw something I didn't understand.
There were three other pregnancies.
Well I knew about one, mom lost a baby when I was seven.
but the others were...abortions.
It felt like time stopped. The last two dates were not much older than I was.
I didn't understand. I suddenly felt panicked. Was I going to get in trouble for reading this?!
There in the car with her I felt like I was twelve again. She was still driving but had grasped my hand.
I don't even think I was breathing. (It's what happens when I am concentrating really hard.) Truthfully I was scared to death. My mom and I had a really dysfunctional relationship. We loved each other so much, but not in a way that the other could understand. We had accepted it and waved the white flag. Did I really want to reach out to her? Not daughter to mother... but woman to woman?
"Did you ever have an abortion?"
Silence. Lots of long, sad, silence.
I honestly think I would have passed out had it gone on longer.
I can close my eyes and still remember the sound of the drone of our car, the wind whipping my hair through the barely cracked window and the sobbing my mother held inside because she would never let me see her sad.
She spoke softly, I then realized she was holding her breath too.
"Yeah, I did...
.....It was horrible
.... No one should ever get an abortion,
..... My body was never the same."
Her voice began to crack
"You know they just sent me home. There was no counseling. Nothing. I never really got over it."
She seemed so fragile then. Her face told me she was somewhere else. Somewhere I've never been.
I wanted to tell her she didn't have to say anymore.
I wanted to make it okay.
But I couldn't. She had a pain I couldn't touch.
I just took her hand in both of mine and scooted next to her (gotta love them bench seats)
She freed her hand, pulled my head near and kissed my face. We stayed that way for a long time.
I had saved her life.... and still it seems so strange because she was the sixteen year old girl
who took a chance
and let me live.
I love you momma.
Thank you for being the bravest woman I have ever known.
I miss you.