I've been thinking about having a birthday party this year. It's odd because I hate parties. My entire life, there was only one party I dreamed of. I imagined the dress I would wear, what the flowers would look like, what my friends would say. I dreamt of exactly how I would feel when the door to my cage flew open. I imagined feeling the sun's warm hands on my face. I imagined suddenly being smarter, prettier, taller.
But when reality came, it was a cold day and the dress I wanted to wear was in a closet somewhere else. My friends were not with me, I was not taller, and my mind was wandering.
Mom's friends were really sad when they learned she died. I kind of just stood there. They cried and told us stories of how great she was. They wanted reassurance that she was not in pain when she died. We told them she was in no pain at all and that she died peacefully. They cried more. And I kind of just stood there. They'd tell us a story about some party they went to with mom and how pretty she was and then they'd end with and she was such a wonderful mother. And I kind of just stood there.
It takes a lot of energy to kind of just stand there for 40 years.
My mom was very pretty, and she was charming, and she was a good friend.
And, she was a horrific mother.
I stood there and wondered if anyone noticed my brother was quoting strangers in his eulogy. We did not have any good memories to share. I stood there and wondered if anyone noticed that none of us were crying. I stood there and wondered if anyone noticed the wonderful mother did not want to be buried near her children. I stood there and wondered if anyone noticed that we did the best for a mother who did not ever do the best for us. As the rabbi spoke of how lovely my mother was, I remembered my 10th birthday. As she threw a crystal ashtray at me, she screamed that if I really wanted a birthday cake I should bake it myself, or go live with my father. He'd disappeared years before. As I did every night hiding under the covers, I reminded myself that one day the sun would shine on me.
Now, I want that birthday cake I never got. I want to celebrate that I am finally free (and so is Mom). I want to tell the stories I was never able to tell. I can talk and laugh and answer my phone without fear. I can have a birthday party and not worry that either of my parents will show up and cause a scene. I can, I can, I can! I get to matter in my life in a way that I didn't get to before.
I will totally stand for that.
*Free with conflicting emotions.
[note: Journal page from Journal Revolution. The photo is our parents on their wedding day]
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