You were so excited to tell me your knuckles popped like his.
You seemed so proud.
“Remember how loud his were?
That was so cool. I did it like him!”
You ask me if beer is like the drink he brought us.
You struggled to pronounce kombucha.
“Remember when he took us to the farmer’s market?
That purple k stuff tasted so good”
You tell me you saw a car like his
“Remember he showed me how to play games in there?
That was a lot of fun”
You tell me you miss the voices he did
When we snuggle to read at night
“Remember his funny sounds?”
You laugh and tell me I don’t do it the same
Then you get sad and go really quiet.
You tell me the family hugs are smaller.
You bring him up and look at me cautiously…
Seeing if this time I’ll cry
You treat his name like glass
Like you’re afraid of my response
I’m not angry when you bring him up
It just catches me off guard
How much you remember
How much I wish you could forget
How much I can’t answer
How much I wish you didn’t wake up to me crying in the middle of the night
How much I wish temperpedic pillows could muffle my screams
You ask me why he left.
What you did wrong.
What I did wrong
To cause him to leave
You struggle to understand things I don’t have the words to explain
You crawl into bed with me
Ask if you need to call someone
Stroke my hair
It’s not your job to take care of me.
“Momma, no one else is here.”
I hope you never find out what he said about you.
That he didn’t love you.
That me being your mom meant I couldn’t give him what he needed.
That the sooner your memory of him dissipated, the better.
That I used you as a guilt lever when I told him of your pain.
That he refused to speak to me for days when he found out you loved him.
That you were “always enough” for his childish fantasies of impacting the next generation.
Did he know what that impact would be?
Your tears. Your breakdowns. Your insistence that you were bad, that you caused him to leave. Your asking for an apology that he is incapable of giving.
The questions you’ve asked me I asked him as well
And I won’t give you the silence that was given to me.
The truth is
I made an awful mistake
Bringing him in.
I thought he was good and kind
His eloquent justifications of awful behavior,
That I believed,
Were just years of practiced selfishness
And a lack of emotional depth
I messed up and I’m sorry with
And sometimes we are going to mess up in life
We pick the wrong people
We pick the wrong people to love.
Your love is enough.
This wasn’t your fault.
You’re collateral damage to my selfishness.
And every question reminds me of what you’ve lost too.
“Why didn’t he say goodbye?”