I See Her

Photo Credit: simpleinsomnia via Compfight cc

“Aren’t you angry with her?” my best friend asks.

I shrug.

I am angry about some things, sometimes. I am angry that when she picked us up from school, her water was not really water. I am angry that when I went into labor with my second child and left my eldest daughter with her, my daughter slept in a soiled diaper and awoke with the fiercest rash I’d ever seen.

I am angry about the things she forgets, the countless times I repeat myself. At everything left undone, left silent. About helping her walk so she doesn’t fall, again, and again.

I am angry that she is slowly, so painfully slowly, killing herself with alcohol. That nothing I could ever do can change that. That her refrigerator is filled with wine even though the doctor told her she will die if she doesn’t stop drinking.

But I can never stay angry. The red fades after a few passing moments, like a piece of rice paper caught in the breeze, drifting beyond my reach.

I recognize her when I finish two drinks and want another, and another. When I take three Tylenol to numb last night’s mistakes.

I see her when I look at old photographs, and her smile reaches through the holes of space and time to remind me what lies beneath her body’s desperate attempt to surrender.

I see her when I have the courage to say exactly what I think, not caring about the consequences of those words. I see her when I am brave enough to chart my own path and honor my personal truths. I see her when I look at my daughter with a love that can only be expressed through tears of gratitude and humility. I see her when I attempt to do something larger than myself, attempt to make the world more beautiful, more kind.

I see her when I look at my daughter, and she gives a look only her grandmother can give—her body turning away but her head looking back, slightly tilted, with a flutter of an eye and knowing smile.

In those moments, I forget who I’m looking at. It is a look that cannot be learned but passed down through generations of defiant women.

I surrender as well. Not a surrender of giving up but one of stepping aside so the forces cannot control me. I surrender to the anger and guilt, to what should have been and what can never be. To the anxiety and stress, and tears. To everything but loving her.


Lauren Halsted

Lauren Halsted Burroughs teaches English at Cuyamaca Community College in San Diego, CA. She began her career in writing as an editorial assistant at Surfing Girl Magazine almost two decades ago, and has worked as a journalist, grant writer, online content writer, and has dabbled in research and academic publishing. She is happiest when spending time with her two young children, family, and friends and/or playing in the ocean.

2 thoughts on “I See Her

  1. Renee DeMontRenee DeMont

    Powerful, Lauren. I remember the day you were born-who knew that adorable blonde kid would grow up to be such a deeply moving writer? Your message drew me in. Heartbreaking. REAL. Left a lump in my throat. I know this was hard, so hard, important. Bravo to your bravery! Don’t stop writing. “The red fades…” Love, Renee

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