It’s been awhile since I have participated in one of MindloveMisery’s challenges. My fingers wouldn’t lose their grip on the keyboard, so I present to you a story:
The day that my grandmother Trudy died, I heard her say goodbye. I wasn’t near her. I was riding my bike in mud puddles and following little rivulets along the street to the drain. I told I think my mother that I had heard her but she didn’t even show disbelief. My exulansis formed an invisible barrier between me and her. The force field was almost imperceptible, but I could tell it was there by the look of incredulity on her face.
The barrier allowed me by invisible permission to escape from regular familial obligations like spending time watching sports in the basement or even the responsibility of watching my sisters. My favorite place to regather was my small single room with full control of the heater in an otherwise uninsulated house, or in a vacant and ancient bedroom when we were at the grandparents for Sunday dinner.
I was searching for Truth like the Bible had mentioned in sections like Psalms and Proverbs. I hadn’t gotten the “memo” on how to gain acceptance from the family. Perhaps in an inadvertent way, those crystalline moments were assumed to be diabolic in nature. I didn’t see the connection between saying the Rosary and grace, nor confessing my sins to a man whom I had no spiritual connections to.
I had been raised with the help of Miss Manners and grandma’s rules to be polite at the dinner table. To never speak what I really meant until I had located the correct filter and tucked in my white blouse into an ankle length black skirt to address a Latin teacher after school I was forced to take classes from (deep, cleansing breath.)
Six years later, I produced a likeness in a operating room in Duluth, MN. There was little fanfare and although I had been given a haircut by a visiting aunt, I left the hospital seven days later resembling a prisoner of war. We didn’t have a car and the hospital refused to let her leave in a car seat, his sister came to pick us up and drop us off at our duplex just across the parking lot from where she was born.
Our bedroom was at the back of the ground floor apartment. The neighbor upstairs had a habit of screaming at the top of her lungs out the window. I can still hear her stomping across the room, could feel her seething with confused rage.
Her crib was across from our air pump mattress, scattered clothes and tools made the room feel so small. A hoarder’s mess. The room had a screened in door that could not be locked against the night, the frozen air came and went as it pleased. So she often slept with me, locked upon my breast every two hours. I dreamed of the connection we would share. No invisible barrier made from small town religion and poverty.
I would tuck her into a Snugli and zip her up with a huge coat against the wind when we went out. Just days old, but so adroit at finding her milk. Few I think knew that she traveled as she did before birth as the bus lurched up each ice hill.
When he couldn’t find a job, we moved back home to the small neighborhood where we first met. I let family hold her in the hope that her small body with milky breath would soften their hearts towards me. I drank up hope only to drown later from the threat of Purgatory.
Image by Jordan Whitt