Friday, January 23, 2015

Interviewing My Mother (Draft Four)

It is easy to get caught-up in life
Easy to look up at the sky
and forget to count the stars
Instead letting them rotate around you
Leaving their mark in the sky
While you head inside
because it's too cold

It is easy to forget the little things in life
Like asking how someone's day was
and genuinely caring about the answer
it's easy to take what you have for granted
It’s easy to forget
Forget the loved ones who no longer
walk the Earth around you
To keep myself from doing so
I realized it was finally time
to ask questions questions again
"What was my mom like before?"
My Uncle John, he would look down and smile
thinking of better times when
He's be over with my Aunt Kacie
Riding around on our quads in the backyard
my mom on hers and he on my step-dads
Our frontyard was large enough
We had fifteen acres of farmland
His sister's dream come true
They'd stay out late by the bonfire
Listening to the knickering of horses
The baying of the goats
The fluttering of the chickens
All my mother's children
And his nieces and nephews

A lot of memories are the same
Remembering my mom when she was happy and well
Remembering the bonfires, the quads
the horses and crazy times
like the time when my cousins went somewhere
they should not have been
my mom driving out there with my aunt
finding my cousins and yelling at them for being reckless
while my one cousin’s mother pulled them into the car
they learned their lesson that night
they were not happy at the time
but they can recount the event today
laughing at the memory
because they knew they were in the wrong

Asking my Aunt Kacie what her favorite memory was
Was asking a lot
She was a newer addition to a family
being engaged to my Uncle John
but she had become good friends with my mother
creating memories over the years
How could she pick one?
When they were all so great?

"There was that one time
when your Aunt Chrissy was having her bridal shower
it was boring and filled with kids
so we ditched it and went out bar-hopping instead.
Your mother was a fierce soul. She packed fury behind her punch.
She was a mother cub in every sense of the word
One wrong word about you or anyone in the family
and someone earned themselves two black eyes
but she would do anything for anyone
even if she cared not for them
stereotypical to say, but it was true. I went with her
quite a few times. Driving two plus hours
to help rescue animals from a shelter. Your mother was an animal-lover
always filling the house with new furry friends.
Crying whenever she went inside the shelter
seeing how badly treated the animals were.
If she had had the room, you would have had a whole zoo
staying at your place. It breaks my heart knowing
she'll never have a chance to fight your Aunt Chrissy
for a chance to watch your cousin Jace”

My cousin, Jenny, fondly recalls
Growing up with my mother
Remembering all the good times they had
and the bad
“I remember the doctor asking
after my surgery just who ‘Bonnie’ was
All I had been saying while going under was
“Don’t leave me and don’t let go of my hand”
When I woke up, nobody was there
but my hand had been closed
as if I had been holding someone’s hand
only your mom was no longer there
she couldn’t have been. “

I could have asked my mother a lot
Asked about her favorite memories
Asked about how she felt, bringing life into the world
Not only for me and my siblings
but for the horse that was born on our farm
the one whose placenta sack she helped remove
or all of the animals she gave a second chance to
giving them a place to be fed and loved
After hearing from so many others
It was finally her time to speak
and my time to ask her

“What was it like dying?

My mother paused in thought
before finally speaking:
“Radiation turned my skin red,
my beautiful hair, my source of pride,
came out, falling onto my pillow
as if my body itself, were weeping
Your aunt came over that day
shaving my head, removing my crown
My goddess-like qualities
became mortal, after all

But I had a smile on my face,
when you got home from school that day
My new crown of glory rested on my head,
A new testament to our own mortality

It was an unexpected surprise that
wasn’t unexpected at all

There were five of your - three of blood, two of love
my beautiful children
You were only newly ripped from the womb when,
you learned the lesson of death
A lesson I taught you

But my life has meaning, how could it not?
I had all I wanted in life
My dreams fulfilled, my lover, my kin
And most importantly of all
I had you
It just wasn’t enough to live for

But once you got right down to it
Dying wasn’t so bad - once you got past the grief
My body, it ached. Walking became difficult
Your grandmother, who was aged herself
Became my crutch, carrying me, leading me
to the bathroom
A simple task, I could no longer do

How could I fight it any longer? My brain deteriorated
fleeting memories of better times
tormenting my body
“Go wash, you’re dirty” I’d say
though you had just showered
I did not mean to say it
but I said it anyway
Oh my body….how heavy it felt
Even after losing my breast
my body hung like stone

But we still had fun
Your grandmother would stand beside me
inappropriately grabbing my breast
the one that was no longer there
but we laughed and laughed
for it was funny and naughty
and if we couldn’t poke fun at the situation
I’d be dying in a different way

For two years I fought,
and then I was cleared
My body was healing
I could finally move on
I made jokes after it all
talking about how my new breasts
would be bigger than yours
but it wasn’t in the cards
not for you
and not for me
How could I fight any longer?
I would have been on chemo for life
and radiation for sure

A red, shell of a person is what I would have been
but I didn’t have it in me, not this time
It was just too much
I withered away before your eyes
A rose fighting for life
in the clutches of winter

i wish i could say I had a glorious end
One filled with trumpets and singers
A real menagerie, but it wasn’t
It was in the living room
Surrounded by family, yet confined to my bed
It was where you found out what it truly felt
to die”