21 Years

26 Apr

I’m not there but I can trace the streets with my fingers. Technology gives me tentacles, allows me to walk the streets of my home town yet again, stare at the front door I open and closed so many times, the curb I drove my brother’s bike off one dewy spring morning, into the side of a passing car. The steps I sat with friends on fiery summer nights, or with my mother on cooler fall afternoons.

The shutters are falling. The siding is grimy and stained. If houses are metaphors, this one matches my life. Full of memory, dingy at the sides, but still standing.


She’s there.

In my mind, in my frosty memory, it’s April 1989 again, and she’s laying in the front room, her blue room, on the hospital bed my parents procured from somewhere, her body wasted and yet bloated. She had come home the week before, her doctors forcing her hand, blunt with words “We can’t help you. You are dying. Give up.”

It was not in my mother’s nature to give up on anything. And so her last wish was not denied, to die at home, to spend her last days in the home she built with her lover, her husband, the one she brought her children home to, my first home. Her beautiful sitting room, strewn with the chaos of death-the drugs, the gauze, the tiny cans of near food in vanilla. The pale sky of carpet she laboured over choosing became compressed and dirtier by feet, vomit, life.

I watched her final days there, much as her sister and my father tried to shield me. I saw my mother naked for the first and only time there, flailing and seizing on her bed as her, the woman I knew, finally left me. Some of me expired with her, sailing towards a sky, cloudy.  A crack in a lifetime, the line in the sand of before and after.

I stare at the house I grew up in. The house she died in. The house I ran away from, feet pounding on distance and action-had I the ability to sprout wings I would have, and flown straight into the sun. Even my dreams rarely brought the solace of her, and slowly I have forgotten her voice, her touch, what it meant to be her, to be my mother.

But her ghost still echoes, across these years. Sunlight around her like a halo, possesses my memory. Her distant smile, haunted somehow, wistful.  The heft of her, the sense of solidity, security, like a vault I could land in. Years I never got to know, stories she never told me-all hover like fireflies over a night field in that house, beautiful and untouchable.

It’s been 21 years. I am not a small girl any longer, rigid in my strength, weak behind those doors. I have been alive for longer than she was with me, only pieces of her left to remind me, whisper gently that I have a mother, that she loves me, and she misses me more dearly than I can imagine.

I love her still, and that house, and that yard, all the places our hands and feet touched, even silent on that burgundy couch lazy Saturdays, watching movies as the rain poured. She’s in that house, her breath trapped in the corners, behind the blue wallpaper, inside the steel stairs.

And she’s in me, forever.

She’s home.

12 Responses to “21 Years”

  1. afteriris April 26, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    What a beautiful piece of writing. Love all over it.

    Thank you.

  2. Hannah April 26, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Thinking of you on this difficult day.

  3. patois April 26, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    I’m so sorry. Some losses sometimes seem impossible to overcome or accept. Your writing of her, even in death, is so brilliant and vibrant. I wish you some peace, particularly on this anniversary day.

  4. magpie April 26, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    you’ve no idea how this resonates with me. beautiful. thanks.

  5. Titanium April 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    You brought us exquisite words today, in her honor and memory. This is beautiful, Thor. She is indeed home.

  6. Marcy April 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm #


  7. Bon April 26, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    catch in my throat. blinking. home.

    in the end, we carry all we love, and are carried in our turn. you remind me that someday i will be nothing more than the home i make in others.

    here’s to your mom.

  8. raino April 26, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    just, beautiful. that got me! a hug for you.

  9. Bromac April 27, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    Thinking of you.

    Her spirit lives on forever, in you.

  10. Cheeky Monkey April 27, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    I’m sorry, T, that you’ve had to be a motherless child and a motherless mother for so long. Peace to you, amidst the thunder.


  11. thordora April 27, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    Thanks all. I appreciate your support and love. 😀

  12. slouchy April 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    oh, thor.

    you know i get this, a little, anyway.

    i’d like to stand with you as the waves wash over us and rinse us clean.

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