Day 2. Where to start? First off, I should thank you for mailing me a handwritten paper note that one time! Out of nowhere too. Surprise! It’s always nice to receive correspondence on thoughtfully chosen stationery, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I understand that you probably didn’t have time to actually thoughtfully chose any stationery and I’m perfectly happy with the piece of printer paper inside an envelope taped shut with hairy Scotch Tape. I’m just happy to hear from you!
I don’t want to seem ungrateful or anything but can I just say that even though your charmingly brief note opened with “Hello my darling daughter,” I have to be honest, it was a bit jarring to veer straight from there into “Mama works with 1: drug addicts, 2: mental patients.” I mean, just wham, how’d you do.
I have questions.
But first, how’ve you been?! I’d love to know. Has your life improved at all? Are you finally enjoying some hard-earned contentment? Passing a few pleasant retirement days here and there maybe? I worry that you still don’t have friends or companionship. That you’re washed by the blue light of that giant tv and nothing else. Loneliness is a killer.
So about that greeting. Since drug addicts and mental patients cover an impossibly broad set of people with vastly different traits, interests, demographics, dispositions and the like, I’m guessing you’re trying to tell me that as a nurse-turned-naturopath, you help all the poor, wretched souls and likewise, you will help poor, wretched me? Is that it? Thing is, Dearest Mother, we haven’t spoken in years and when we did, what did you know about me? About my actual, presumed wretched life?
I’m sorry. That’s unfair, I know. You’ve done so much for me, as I said. I should totally cut you some slack. Mothers, they give so much and we offspring are such merciless ingrates. As I said previously, thank you for my birth. I am obviously forever grateful (maybe not on those days I’ve wished I was dead but you get the idea, right?) All you’re asking is to be in your only child’s life. Anybody would want that. It’s reasonable. I’m an adult; I get it.
Our estrangement is on me, after all. I tried (so, so hard) to distance you from my life but, to your credit, you kept coming back. A mother never abandons her child, you said. I can always count on you, you said. That turns out to be true although maybe not in the ways you intended.
So here are these letters. Hopefully they will offer some understanding, relief, clarity. To you? To me? Does it matter? You have not lost your child; not really. I am alive and well. Your cells are in me. They are me. As you’ve said many times, you will never leave me alone and it’s true. You never have.
It’s cruel, this. You know it. I know it. Cruelty is the skin that clings and wrinkles, thickly concealing — protecting — the tender wounds beneath.
And yes, I am angry. So get ready for that. Fun times ahead! I suppose I always have been, really. When I was a child, you’d ask me why I was enraged and I didn’t know what you meant. I hadn’t yet worked out that what I felt was anger and that there was some other feeling state in which to live. Be what can you do with that information now? I don’t have that answer.
What I can say is that everyone needs a mother. Maybe not their actual mother, depending on circumstance, but everyone a mother. We humans need mothering, nurturing, caring. Each one of us needs someone to be there in times of need and in times of triumph. We need someone to see us regardless of our opinions, appearance, or choices. We need someone who chooses, at every moment, to make the maternal connection an unbreakable one. We can give it but without receiving it, we do not thrive.
Mommy, I needed a mother. Where were you?