Note: I wrote this story for my creative writing course in January, 2020. There are many reasons why I have decided to share this story;
- My Mom was a huge reason why my life led me into the social services field and this being my first post for my counselling & coaching practice, I found it was quite fitting to share something so personal to me.
- I want to share personal experiences with readers/clients as a way to get to know me.
- My Mom unexpectedly died in July and by sharing this story, readers will see the complexity of a strained relationship and that grief and loss can be emotionally confusing.
She texted me this morning, an all too familiar text. I sighed and began to mentally prepare myself for the phone call. The phone rings, I answer. Her voice trembling, I could hear her pain through the phone, I felt an ache in my chest, as she went on to express how she cannot go on living like this anymore. Her body was deteriorating before her. Her mind had already failed her and now she was trapped in a body that was failing her too. I hadn’t seen her in years but I remember the sorrow that had grown to be her face, her thin lips, a frown that never seemed to go away, and eyes dulled from a life of loneliness she had cast upon herself. I could hear her shifting her body through the phone, the sound of the cigarette package being opened and the lighter being ignited, ‘flick, flick, flick’ and the deep inhale.
“Mom, it’s going to be ok, you just have to keep holding on, you’ll be in for your surgery in a few months and the pain will go away, this is just temporary.” I didn’t know what else to say, we had this conversation many times, and I was repeating myself hoping for a different response. There had already been a suicide attempt a year prior to this for different reasons. Knowing she had the capability now, I was doing everything in my power to talk her off the ledge. She went on…
This brought me back to a childlike state and I recalled times as a teenager where I would stay home from school to make sure she wouldn’t hurt herself. Selfish woman. As I heard another inhale of her cigarette through the phone, I remembered sitting across from her at the kitchen table doing my homework, and her smoking, and writing her ‘to do’ lists. She used a ruler for everything, even on lined paper; she still does to this day. I watched her suffer my entire childhood. By the time I was 18, she no longer looked like the woman I called Mom. That person didn’t exist anymore. The person sitting across the table from me had similar features yes, however, I never knew who’d I’d be coming home to. Was this person going to lovingly ask how my day was or was this person going to take all the dishes out of the cupboards and smash them on the floor? Unpredictable woman. I could feel my throat tighten and my eyes began to water.
“Mom please,” I exclaimed, “you’re my mom, and I love you, I don’t want you to leave me, I want you in my life, I know you’re in pain, but please, don’t talk like this”
4300 kilometers away and I was trying to convince her not to kill herself over the phone. I hated this, I hated when she was like this.
She yelled back at me, “that’s so selfish of you! I’m in so much pain and all you can think of is yourself! What about me? What about what I’m going through! Everyday is a struggle to get out of bed.” she begins to cry again, the trembling creeps back into her voice. She lights another cigarette, ‘flick, flick, flick’ and the deep inhale.
Chronic pain had taken over her spine and on her good days, pain shot through her body like lightning hitting a tree. I couldn’t imagine. She rambled on about how meaningless her life was, and how she was lonely and had no friends, that she was miserable and the pain only made her more aware of it all.
Sitting back at the kitchen table across from her, me doing my homework and her writing her ‘to do’ lists. Behind her was a countertop and the china cabinet above and a large mirror in between. I often made funny faces to amuse myself and procrastinate my homework, she’d tell me, “your face is going to stay like that if you keep it up.” I laughed. This time, I looked at the mirror, and I saw her staring back at me. My throat began to tighten again, and I was reminded that I am my mother’s daughter after all.
At this point I am riding the waves of emotions with her over the phone, and I am becoming impatient. She always knew the right things to say to get on my nerves. Manipulative woman. She is no longer sitting down, I can hear her movements through the phone, the creak in the floors, like the creak in her bones, she sits down on the couch. She adjusts herself, trying to find a comfortable position, the pain flows through her body, like a boat rocking back and forth in the water. I hear the tide crashing upon the rocks. She cries out. Wailing and moaning, I can’t make out what she is saying. A combination of the psychological trauma she has chosen to carry and the physical pain that reminds her of it.
“I need to go, I’m tired,” she says.
And I let her go.