everything i could never tell you
I’m sorry, baby girl, I was barely a teen then, I didn’t know there was a name for what your mama had. I just knew she closed herself in her bedroom, turned the lights off and had me babysit you every afternoon. She hid under the covers because she was really sad and all you could hear from her bedroom was her sobbing. I kept the television on to try to protect you from the sounds.
You know, back then, it didn’t even have a name, just crazy. Your mama was chronically depressed and it is like every other illness but years ago it was shameful. Thank God, now, people know more and there are medications and no shame involved.
When I would walk up one flight of dusty, gray stairs, your smile would brighten your entire face like sunshine and your cheeks would turn rosy pink as soon as you saw me. Your mama would scream sometimes, but she couldn’t control herself. Oh, I know you pity yourself but I’m sure it was not easy for her, she was very sad every minute of every day. Yes, it WAS hard for you but you are a grown-up now, can you now think about what it was like for her?
What I remember most, for some funny reason, is that she used to make two pale chicken legs in the toaster oven. Oil or butter turning into bubbles on those nasty looking legs. You must have eaten them after I left but I kept thinking “where was the rice and the salad?” Was there bread and butter to eat? I could picture you and your mama eating one sickly yellow chicken leg each and you drinking your glass of milk.
Your mom never let you have candy so with my babysitting money I would hold your hand and take you into the candy store and let you pick out a chocolate bar and tell you it was our secret. I didn’t care about lying to your mom, she wouldn’t even have noticed. I just wanted you to have a little happiness in your life, I wanted you to be able to be a kid for a short time, anyway. Your eyes would glisten like stars on a dark night, with happiness and excitement, you were lit up like electricity in a lamp.
I met you for lunch once when we were both adults, I didn’t know you anymore. You hated your parents, you hated everything, nothing but hate and coldness inside you. This was way before your older sister became sick too and I adored her as well. I know you were wonderful to her, you did everything for her and everyone knew that, there was the goodness in you.That sweet little girl came back to be her sister’s angel, but when she died, it died too.
We didn’t know about the funeral, no one told us. As soon as we found out we raced to your mom’s apartment where your cold, icy, blue eyes looked through us. I wanted to hug you, but you didn’t let anyone close enough to even say we were sorry. Why? You were blaming us for something we had no control over but you were the queen of control, right?
You built a wall around you of law books and court rooms and tennis-playing friends. I hope you are happy now. But, I wanted to say something that I never could say before: I missed my sweet baby for a long time. The little girl you were, the innocent, happy child that would race to sit on my lap.What happened to her? My one question is “do you even remember her, that sweet sunny child, you were?” Because if not, that would be a damn shame. A damn shame.