A Letter to Mama
Do you ever wonder what life would be like without me? I often wonder what life would be like without you. I try not to, but it’s all I ever think about ever since you asked me if I would be okay without you. And when I asked you what you meant, you told me you wanted to leave. And when I asked you where you wanted to go, you said somewhere else, somewhere far away from here. And when I asked you where, you cried. I asked you why and without much hesitance you told me you wanted to go away forever; you wanted to die. That night, a part of me died inside because I felt like I had failed. All of these years I was trying to keep you alive, to give you life and there you were, on the phone, telling me you were tired and didn’t have the strength to go on anymore. I felt helpless. The sound of your voice crumbling on the phone mirrored the crumbling sensation of my heart. I begged for you to come home because I was scared you might never. I got on my bike and rode to you. Although I didn’t know where you were, my intuition guided me. It guided me all the way back home, to you, where you sat on the porch steps and cried. Mama, I know you wish life were different. I often wish it were different too, just for you, so that you could stop being sad and be happy instead.
It wasn’t always this way. I remember those days where you were happy, where you’d pick me up from school and catch me with open arms when I ran to you. I remember those days where we sought comfort beneath trees, soared to great heights on swings, and talked about dragons and princes and princesses in stories you read to me. I remember bike rides, picnics in parks, and our infectious giggling. I remember those days, but those days are a thing of the past. It was always this way, until the day you got sad.
Too young to understand why, I took your pain and internalized it. I thought that if I internalized it, it would take some of the pain away from you and you would learn to feel again. You would start to feel better. You would learn to smile again. You would learn to be you, again, but again never came. I was afraid of the day you would forget to walk, love, and be happy. And so far, you have. Sometimes I wish you would remember. All I have now is a memory of how you used to be. Sometimes even I forget.
Do you remember when you came to pick me up from school that day and Mrs. B spoke to you about me? I’m sorry, Mama. I was too afraid to tell you that I was sad because you were. I didn’t want to hurt you more than you were already hurt. When Mrs. B asked me why I looked sad in class, I couldn’t lie. You always told me to tell the truth, so I did. I told her that I was sad because I had to be, because you were. She asked me if I wanted to talk to someone about it. With bright eyes and a naïve heart, I looked up at her and asked her if the person I could talk to was a magician. When she told me that the person to talk to wouldn’t be a magician, I politely declined. “No that’s okay, Mrs. B,” I said. I explained that the only person, who could fix what was happening, who could fix my Mama, would be a magician. I later learned that a magician couldn’t change things. This is when I started hoping, dreaming, and wishing.
I remember I was often a child that dreamed of happiness, not for me, but for you. Do you remember those pictures I painted for you? Those pictures of you and I with red painted smiles on our oval faces, beneath the sun and among trees and flowers? I wanted to be like the other kids. They were all painting pictures with happy faces and so I wanted to paint one too. You see, I was only painting it because it’s what my imagination wanted me to paint. It didn’t mean it was true. The teacher took my painting and stapled it to the wall with all of the pretty paintings, except mine wasn’t pretty. I hated looking at it, so at recess I snuck in the classroom and took it off the wall and when I got home I gave it to you. I wanted you to see what I wanted for us. I wanted you to see what I wanted for you. That painting was a glimpse of what I wished our life would be. You didn’t understand.
When I would go to sleep at night, I’d shut my eyes tightly and try my hardest to dream of a place where we had a white picket fence, a home not of straws but of bricks with a strong foundation which didn’t have walls for you to hide behind. I wished for a home painted with happiness and love. When I would dream beautiful things I hoped that they would have the power to move away from me and consume your mind, just so you could dream again; just so you could believe in dreams, never too big and never too small.
I often wished upon a star, on birthday candles, on a penny I tossed in fountains. I never told anyone what I wished for because I was afraid it might not come true. They always knew I wished for something great because I’d shut my eyes and squeeze my eyelids tight, hoping that my wish would make its way out of the chaotic world and rearrange itself in the universe and find its way back to you. It never did. When my dreams and my wishes didn’t come true, I was sad. I wanted to give up. When the world weighed heavy on me, I crumbled to my feet. I was unable to pick myself up and so I fell back on my knees. I knelt there and refused to pray because I hated speaking to God. I hated what He had done. I hated that He took my Mama away from me. I knelt there and pleaded for Him to bring you back. I wanted Him to create a miracle and transform you into the person you used to be, and if He couldn’t do that I wanted Him to empower me with the strength to carry you. Mama, He did. I am here and I always will be. I have always told you that I will never give up on you. I never will. I believe in magic and I believe that there is magic in people.
I often imagined you as a happy and fulfilled woman- a woman who hadn’t dreaded turmoil, in which you had to build tall walls to keep away. I imagined you as the symbol of liberty who had built bridges between beautiful places with rolling hills, beautiful sunsets, and skies blanketed in stars; a place filled with magic and possibilities- the magic I wish this world had to fix you.
I have always wanted to conquer the world. Well Mama, you are my world and I’m going to take all of the bad out of it and conquer it. I want to make it spin again; to have you orbit around the sun to feel warm again, so you can feel alive. I want there to be rain for the flowers that will grow within you, as beautiful as you are; to have those admire you, like we admire the beauty in flowers. Mama, you are but a dandelion, who has grown between cracks, to be ripped and torn out. But you didn’t die. You grew back again. Just know that you are not different. You are like a dandelion, whose flower withers and transforms into a thousand seeds. And when you do, I will pick you up, gently blow on you and make a wish in the hopes that all those little seeds will get carried out in the open world, landing somewhere to start over again- until you grow back again. And I will be there, to pick you up and protect you. I will blow on you like the wind, which gently whisks those white seeds from the dandelion and I will always make a wish, until you are better again.