She died when I was 25.
Barely able to support myself but trying so hard. Riddled with emotional turmoil from a childhood of ups and downs. Now, at 25, without a mother, I dropped deep into grief. I stayed there for a long time.
My mother was a complicated figure in my life. She was a source of many things. Both comfort and pain. And I the same for her, she once said.
In the 7 years since her death, I have walked through the infinite depths of grief. I am still walking. Mostly I miss her. Mostly I think fondly of her. Her laugh. Her scent. But I have been angry with her. For mistreating us when we were little, for not getting the help she needed to heal so she could be a better mother, so she could be a happier person. I asked her once, have you ever been happy? She did not like that question. I have always seen her for who she was. A gentle, loving, generous woman, despite her suffering. So much suffering.
She shared so much with me. Too much at times. I was the youngest and she confided in me. I was different from the others, she said. Special. Put there just for her. We spoke like friends. Not always. But often. And I knew something was off at the young age of 12. I asked... have you ever been raped? She looked away. No answer. I knew it then.
I found out after she died. Got my dad drunk and made him spill the beans. It was more disturbing than I could ever imagine. Someone I knew. Someone I loved. Not just once. For years. Raped my mother. My mother, a child. And thus, she never grew up.
I used to feel like I was the mother and she was the child. At 15, I reprimanded her when I caught her smoking weed. I flushed it down the toilet. Made her promise never to do it again. For months, she tiptoed around me like a grounded child.
We were complicated for each other.
Years later, I told her I forgave her for everything she did to me. For all of the impulsive beatings, and the well-planned spankings. For bringing up every shameful thing I'd ever done when I'd forget to empty the dishwasher. For handing her pain over to me. I forgive you. You've never apologized but I forgive you.
Thank you, she said. Crying.
She died 2 years later.
It wasn't enough but it was something.
The man who stole her life from her, her rapist, died the other day. If she were here she'd mourn him. She spent her life trying to forget what he did by keeping him close. Employing him. Making her kids kiss and hug him. Tell Papa you love him. We love you, Papa. We loved you. You monster.