I wrote EMBERS AND ASH some years ago. I don’t remember the precise day; I only remember the unlucky circumstance. I needed to come home. I was unwell. Truth? I was out of my fucking mind, and the only person I wanted, needed and trusted was the one who birthed me. Her ferocious, constant, capable mother-love was the only thing not spinning out of control. The rock steady person I could count on sharing every milestone, pain, triumph, the prettiest and ugliest parts. I never wanted to return home, not in a million years. That meant failure, in a big way.
It still stings when I think about everything I’ve lost to the invisible disease of the mind. This fight between me and sanity is highly personal. I may not survive the war, yet here I am raging battles.
The Gods gave me a horrible burden to bear but gifted me a superpower human willing to stick it out and fight when I am unable. Love is the risk worth taking no matter the hurt, fear or fate of what lies ahead. I remind myself I must grow strong enough to carry on without her and that father time is not on our side.
I am not a mother. I only understand maternal depths, responsibility, and bitter-sweetness from the daughter side. Can’t stop time, no matter how hard we will it. The flames burn hotter today, more dangerous, and more unforgiving than yesteryear.
Oh dear, have you seen her?
She was right here a minute ago. I swear. I can still smell her cheap $5.00 perfume and tobacco trail. I didn’t know. I was ill prepared, unfit for this thing called a lifespan. How to navigate the hillbilly, redneck back roads without a compass of one’s own? Abandoned, sidetracked, lost in the strange moments rolled into one. Bone crushing, blood pulsing, cotton candy sticky, all-consuming love. I have not been on the other side; I do not know how she feels. I did not experience the pain of giving birth, the miracle of a helpless creature cradled in her arms, heart to heart beating.
To feel precisely how she feels I cannot know. I am out of my depth, in foreign waters. The grown-up child still needs her, close. The mere presence calms the rattled, shaky, knee scraped bones. I could never be that good.
Selfless, compassionate, proud to mop floors, cook dinners, wash clothes and carry heavy loads without fuss. A lifetime of that kind of fierce love wears you down. Even the strongest, most stubborn, willful adoration wilts. Overtime. It happens. The love is not lost; it simply turns down the volume.
Nature and time see things differently. The well-oiled machine in sync with the needs of her child eventually breaks down. I can’t compete with evolution.
I can’t will it to stop, slow down; it does not listen. I cannot bear to lose the anchor, safe ground. I sob and sob until exhaustion sets in; I can’t help myself. Wrought with emotion. I overthink it. I think again, tricking the brain the inevitable won’t happen. I can’t even come close. In this life, I have loved many, but only one burned constant. No matter, roles were bartered away long ago. Overbearing, enveloping, tough, crazy mother love does not judge. It remains solid, no matter how deep the disappointment.
She watches quietly, observing the ebb and flow. Waiting patiently to gather the shattered, fallen pieces, dustbin in hand. What a sour burden to own something so precious, forced only to have to let it go. Her greatest gift, knowing precisely when to push and when to pull.
That I understand. That, I know well. The incomparable fear of love and loss, one’s heart ripped straight through the middle. Embers and ash. The unbearable, unbreakable mother-daughter bond, so simple and so complex.