tell me the price
i will pay it
Another 3:00 a.m. morning with me sitting here, dish soap bubble on my hand from washing out a jar full of whey. A beeswax candle burning next to me. Coffee bubbling in announcement of its readiness. I’m not bubbling. I’m a lump on a chair with a laptop across my thighs. I’m a lonely mother in a dark house trying to find the right words to use to reel you back to me.
Maybe I won’t try much this time. I’ll just see what you want to talk about. I miss you so much, my girl. Still, a couple times yesterday, I was shocked when the sudden thought came to me - you’re dead. Dead. You’re not here and never will be. Where’s the hope in that? We use that word - “dead” to illustrate the great ending of anything. Dead battery. She’s dead to me. Dead serious.
Was I with you then? I’ve decided I was. I’ve decided, by the sheer force of my conviction that I could have been. I’ve decided that there are no limits on the love of a mother, the love of this mother anyhow. And I, because you told me so in your story, was there with you then. Your mind was clear. You were warm. There was golden light that broke through and enrobed you with love and peace. I know this to be true because there is no other plausible alternative. You came with light and you left with light. And here we are living in the shadows.
It’s dark here a lot now. Lonely. Sad. So achingly sad. I excavate my memories for moments with you. I wish my brain was more obliging. Snippets, that’s all I get. The you that filled a room with your Mila-ness is just a feeling in my heart. I worry I will lose that feeling. Will I remember in years from now what it was like to sit across from you at the table? Will I remember driving home with you after a hockey game and our shared chatter? Will I remember the heft of your hair in my hands? I have to. I just have to.
I decided to come outside to talk to you and have my coffee. It’s so inky black outside that I can’t see anything outside of the candle I lit out here on the porch. Are you next to me? Over my shoulder reading this? That close? Or are you riding some ethereal ribbon of invisible matter, journeying or expanding or living in a way I cannot comprehend? The selfish part of me wants you over my shoulder. Keep close. Stay near. Be here with us. That’s what I want, in as profound a way as possible. I trust you know.
I thought the evening birds and scattering nocturnal creatures would be out calling, but there isn’t a sound to be heard. No frogs. No bugs chittering. Nothing. I heard one call from an exceedingly early rising rooster, but I suspect his ladies put a stop to that for he’s been silent ever since. My coffee is only ok. Remember how you would walk in when I was making coffee and say “coffee café”? My prompt to make you some - more cream than coffee as it should be.
And there, one early rising bird sings its song. I wonder, do they think their song raises the sun? And if they did, would they be wrong?
You are such light and warmth to me. As much as I was your mother, you were a grounding force in my life. I don’t think I ever told you that in those words. Maybe I didn’t recognize it in those words until you were gone. Each of my daughters brings such disparate qualities into our family. You and I had a connection of knowing. It was deeper than words, more intuitive and feeling, but seemingly impossible to quantify. I watched you, you know.
I should have been more and tried more and insisted more. Of course, I make up these scenarios and then I make up the satisfactory result at the same. time. I say “you seem so sad to me” and you say “no not at all” and I say “yes, I see it there’s no denying it and this evening I will return here to your bedroom and ask you again and tomorrow morning I will do the same and then again tomorrow at lunch and if that doesn’t work, I will crawl into your bed with you and melt your resistance with my love and you will eventually break and you will look me in the eyes with tears streaming down your soft cheeks and you will say ‘oh mommy, I am so sad, so desperately sad and I don’t know what’s wrong with me and I think I’m in trouble and I feel so awful about who I am and I started smoking pot because my friends were and now I can’t even sleep without it and it’s doing weird things to my brain and I need help. Could you help me?’ And I would say “yes!, yes I can help you and I will be here with you every second and we will fix this! This is easy!!! It’s awful and I know you are in pain my sweetest of the sweet but we will do this. Project: Heal Mila. I am made for this stuff! You are made for this stuff! We can do this! It will be hard and there will be ups and downs but we will gladly, wholly dedicate ourselves to finding answers for you. There is no shame, my girl. You are human and beautiful and your potential is only exceeded by who you are today.”
From there we find you the resources, you stay home. We work together as a family. It’s hard. We talk about it. There are bumps in the road. But like us all, all of us in this family, we expose our frailties and flaws and we learn to love each other through them. We are all so very flawed. You’ve seen it. You loved us anyway. How could you ever think we wouldn’t do the same? Or did you know we would, but you just couldn’t.
Just a little time, that’s all we need. Clear out your brain, balance your biochemistry, and allow your good reason and steadfast determination to steer your ship on the unending ocean of our love. We got this.
See? I got it all planned out. “Bargaining” they call this. One of the stages of grief that rolls around again and again. It’s here, it’s gone, it’s here, it’s gone. Bargaining says “You want her back? Whatcha’ got for me?” I say, “Tell me the price and I will pay it. Nothing is too grand. I will pay.”
Of course, the bargain is an illusion. It promises everything, a rewrite of every last variable to guarantee a perfect future. It’s tormenting. A little jig played on my heartstrings, reverberating into the abyss. Surely, if I let it flow, there will be a time, even just once, when the song ends with you in my arms again? So I sit back and surrender to the momentary lusciousness of rewriting your story with a happy ending knowing that the pain rushes in the second my mind can’t hold onto the make-believe any longer.
I miss you. There is wind in the leaves now. I still remain here in the dark. It’s now 4:50. You mustn’t have too much to do right now. Why not come sit with me? I think I will close this screen and see if you might. Please? Please don’t be mad at me. I know how much I failed you. I know what I should have done if I had known. But I don’t know how to make it right. I love you. I hope that the higher Mila can see the higher heart of her mother with compassion and forgiveness. I hope there is love in your heart for me. You were my baby, my greatness, my purpose. I’m sorry for the hurt I may have ever caused you and for my myriad of inadequacies that contributed to your pain. I love you.
Lucy had kittens. I know you know, but I wanted to say it here anyway. You would be so smitten. Visit them? What do you want to name them?