We spent last weekend in northern Wisconsin for the wedding of some good friends. It was lovely – both ceremony and reception were on the water of Lake Superior, the bride made her own beautiful silk dress, and the couple rode away on bicycles. P and I camped nearby and rode our bikes in and around town and crossed the lake on the ferry to ride on Made*line Island (and spend a little time on the beautiful beaches, too). But then, surprise!, we got food poisoning on our last night and were barely able to pack up camp and drive the four plus hours home before collapsing into bed (and bathroom) for two days.
On Tuesday night, when our delirium was subsiding and we could both stand, I did the final proofread of the letter. The break-up letter to my mother. It was more than three pages. Those neatly printed and folded pages marked both the most difficult moment of my summer and a major transition point in my healing. I outlined how she has repeatedly hurt me, why she lost my trust, and how she was not to contact me. I wish I could write more eloquently about what this means, but the words feel mundane and heavy. I broke up with my own mother. I feel surprisingly calm about it. I’ve mulled it over for months, tweaked my prose, added and subtracted words, sentences, paragraphs. I’ve sharped my words and then dulled them, and then the reverse, until they felt sharp enough to carry my intent without harming unnecessarily. I wrestled with the guilt, wondering if I was hurting her too much, trying to find the blurry line between honesty and cruelty. But I need her to hear my pain, and there was no gentle and kind way to present the facts. It’s been a hard life and I needed, for the first time in my life, to be honest with her about that, to stop protecting her from the reality she made me survive.
And then, I mailed it.
I’m trying not to wait for a response. Afterall, I cut off contact with her. But part of me is waiting, wondering. She tends to move, a lot. She acts like a snake in the grass, here one moment, gone in an unpredictable flash. It’s as if someone, or something, is chasing her. So I don’t know if she’s at the same address she was last time. I don’t know if she’s having her mail forwarded or if it’ll sit somewhere, in a box in someone’s garage, until she returns from one of her random, confusing, sometimes lengthy trips. I don’t know if she’ll ever return. I don’t know if she did get the letter, if she’s sobbing now, wondering what she has done. How she lost her only daughter. Or if she’s hunkered over a beer, cursing the ungrateful little bitch who criticizes her every move. Or if she tossed the letter aside, writing off my drama and fanciful stories. I wish I knew, I wish I had some thread of understanding. But, the truth is, even if I called and asked, she wouldn’t answer my question. I’d probably hang up wondering if she lied or if she’s telling the truth. Making contact would only confuse her and aggravate me. She doesn’t ask questions or give answers. She needs her mystery to protect her from whatever demons haunt her.
And then P turned 30. I’d been planning a surprise party for several months and it went off without a hitch. He was thrilled and overwhelmed. I enjoyed working with P’s mom to put on the bash. We had a taco bar, cake, ice cream, pinata, slideshow. I loved seeing all our friends, laughing over beer, giving tours of the
overgrown enthusiastic garden. We sang, we ate, we had a merry time.
And now it’s Friday. I’m exhausted, happy, anxious, sad. After the party, I feel wrapped in a warm community of friends and family. And with the letter out in the world, a severing missile of unknown power, I feel unsettled, worried, anxious. I want so much for something I cannot name, meanwhile I feel so full of blessing I am about to burst. I wonder if there is even room in my life for that unnamed longing to be filled, and yet all other wonders feel a little hollow with that dark space remaining empty.