A memory

This was written by my niece, my sister’s daughter. It means a lot to me to have some of her beautiful, heartfelt writing here on my blog. Thanks, S.

As much as I try to deny it and force it back, I find myself thinking about you more and more lately. I spent years suppressing any thought that had to do with you, where you might be, who you could be doing it with, if you’re even alive. What should have been my first indicator that something was not quite right.I don’t remember how old I was, because so much happened in such a short period of time, it all kind of blurs. For a lot of the time I was with her growing up, she was in bed, and I do remember times when I would try to get her up to play with me, while my dad was hard at work, because all I wanted at that time was to be with my mom, even if I was always more of a daddy’s girl. Why isn’t mommy getting out of bed? I never knew until years later, but it did upset me at the time, and I guess my brother did a good job of keeping me distracted while he could.

Either way, I did get some time with her, when she felt good enough to get out of bed. She would creep into my room in the middle of the night, and now, at nearly 30, knowing what I do, I’m not sure if she was completely sober and just wanting to spend time with her little girl, or high on something and needing a junk food binge, but she didn’t want to be alone. My brother never wanted to go, yet I was always willing to climb into the car in my night gown, windows down, music blasting. She would take us up to High’s, a convenience store that was open all night, and I could pick out the candy bar of my choosing. We would keep this secret between us, because, of course, it would upset my dad to know, and I liked keeping secrets at that age. Having the special time with my mom that no one else did.

We would sneak back into the house like criminals in the night, making sure not to wake either of the boys snoozing upstairs, and she would tuck me back into my bed, singing “You Are My Sunshine” to me, in a version she had altered, and I would drift back to sleep.

That’s one of the few good memories I cling to, because not long after that, things went downhill fast. Emotional trauma, divorce, living two separate lives in two separate homes, I don’t really know how I made it this far. Sometimes, I feel her sickness creeping into my brain, like we did on those nights, in the form of my anxiety and depression, on the days when I feel like I can’t leave the house. Does the apple really fall far from the tree, especially when the tree is withered, and the apple gets knocked around and bruised by every branch it hits on the way down? Life is funny that way.