“Mom, I want you to know that I don’t harbour any ill will toward our past. If I seek to know what happened, it is only to understand myself so that I might heal.”
Mom nods, considers my words. “There is so much I could have done differently.”
“No. You did what you could with what you had. They were difficult times.”
It is funny how, faced with imminent death, perspectives shift. Throughout my life, I have had a love/hate relationship with my mother: cowed by her criticisms, angry at her life choices, disappointed that she didn’t protect us. It all seems so petty now.
“The greatest regret I have concerning you,” she says, reaching a frail hand toward me; “is that I never comforted you after the rape. What kind of a mother was I to turn my back on you?”
Her words catch me off guard. I tear up. “You didn’t know.”
“No, but I’ve come across it in your writing.”
I thought I had filtered that part out, usually careful about what I let her read.
We talk about it. Clear the air. She cries with me and shares her own story of rape at fourteen. I’m the first person she’s ever told, she adds.
How life can chew us up and tear us apart. Good thing love’s bonds are so strong.
I ask her about earlier days – parts of my childhood that are foggy. We laugh at some of it, and shake our heads at other bits.
Then exhausted, we both withdraw into ourselves, and in the silence, nod off.
When it’s time to go, she tells me that I have always been her strength, her rock.
“It’s good to have you home.”
I wish I could do so much more.