I would like to think

I would like to think that my mom thinks of me from time to time. I would like to think she still talks about me to all her friends. I would like to think everything would be okay if I could just fall into her arms.

I would like to think that someday I would drive up to her apartment and she’d ask me to make myself comfortable. I would smile and look at the porcelain knick-knacks she would still collect. I would like to think she would tell me, “You are everything I hoped you would become.” She would say, “I’m proud of you,” and, “You did the right thing.” She would brush my hair and tell me not to worry about what the boys and girls think. She would tell me what she’s learned, loved, and lost. She’d move through the room like a planet in orbit, with grace and purpose, as she shows me how to make my favorite dishes. I would like to think I would forgive her, and in turn lay down my burden for her to examine. She’d pick through my pieces and nod to herself. I would like to think that her heart would bruise a little every time mine took a blow. Then she’d look at me and give me the sort of loving advice you remember forever. I would like to think that she would believe in my half-baked ambitions.

But I know none of this could be real. She would avert her gaze and tell me she’s sorry. She would tell me not to ever bring myself to hate anyone, if I can help it. She would thank me for looking out for my brother. She’d then ask if I smoked, and I would say no as she takes a long drag on her own cigarette. In the bittersweet cloud she’d breathe, “A lot of times, we have to make sacrifices for the ones we love.” She’d tell me not to cry, tell me everything is going to be okay. She’d pull my hand into hers and tell me, “Don’t ever get yourself into a situation where you must depend entirely on someone else.”

She’d be amused at the person I’ve become, I think. I think she’d be a little afraid. She’d ask without accusation, “Do you think you’re too good for me now?” And no matter my reply, she would understand, because we are the same in that neither of us have ever believed we were deserving of much love. Her eyes would be wistful because she’d realize we were now poles apart. She would not make the same mistake my dad made and try to draw me into her like a child. No, she’d ask why I was so sad, I’d tell her, and she’d hold me without saying a word.

I would like to think that the last thing we told each other was, “I love you.” I would like to think I remember her well.

I would like to think I am a normal sassy teenager with normal problems, or that I have recovered well. In all honesty, this is a gaping, aching hole I have so desperately tried to fill. Emptiness cannot satisfy emptiness.

I would like to think whenever I told friends to tell their moms they loved them, they heeded my advice.

I would like to think I could honor my mom in ways other than long-winded scribblings transcribed and drafted at odd hours. I would like to think I had reasons to honor my mom, other than the fact that she’s my mom.

I do know that she respected that I wrote a lot, even as a child, about fleeting nothings, and I do know that today’s her birthday. This is the only way I knew how to link these two things I know for sure.


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