She stayed with me for days
These Indigo Girls lyrics from their enigmatic song Prince of Darkness have clung in the corner of my psyche for over 20 years. I first sang them as a senior at the University of Michigan working as a jewelry designer & cashier at The Bead Shoppe. The song became my teary-eyed anthem to the angst & denied yearning surrounding my estranged relationship with my mother. She'd left our family when I was 4 years old and we'd maintained very minimal contact to that point, and would continue a sparse relationship for 10 more years until I moved to LA at age 30. That was exactly 10 years ago. We've slowly picked up the frayed threads of our kinship and weaved together a loose framework for relating and learning to love one another again. But always very carefully, with kid gloves on.
God works in the weirdest and truly most twisted ways. The first times I needed my mother enough to call her in spite of my intense resistance to her possible rejection was in the midst of severe Postpartum Anxiety after the birth of G. She jumped on planes time after time, hopping from her home town of Sacramento to mine in San Diego, to help me stutter through the severe shell shock I suffered upon becoming a mother. It was crude, painful and awkward as I tried allowing her to help, and she tried knowing how to help.
By the time N was born and I made the I need you now call, we had the schtick down. Only this time she carelessly hopped on the plane only to be thrown into her own shell shock as the birth of my second son catapulted her into a serious healing crisis over the recent death of her second son, my one full blood brother. Agonizingly brutal, mother and daughter suffered intense anxiety side by side like two magnets trying to come together in need, but tragically pushing each other's like-poles away out of sheer suffering.
When I called my mother to come help me for my first and second permanent sterilization procedures, she was here. There's something about getting ready for anesthesia and surgery that invokes thoughts of mortality and hastens deep conversations. That small curtained waiting room became a confessional. Hidden and held deep in a dim corner bowel of the hospital, my mother and I wept unselfconsciously as painfully stowed memories seeped their way out of the concrete that formerly separated us, transforming into a binding, healing salve.
I finally felt my mother touch me three days ago. We held hands for the first time on (fixin' to be fixed) Friday as she escorted me, groggy and post-op, into and out of the car and bed. We slept in the same bed for the first time that night. I felt her stroke my hair for the first time yesterday. She may have done it in the past, I don't know, but this was the first time I felt like her little daughter that I always wanted to be. I wished time to stop and keep us in that sacred, comforting moment forever. But N woke and duty called.
Today is her last day here, for this trip anyway. I will miss her advocating for me in the hospital, demanding I demand help from my husband, urging me to rest, calling me on my control-freak shit, and looking at me with love in her eyes. Thank god for needing my mother enough to call. And thank heavens she came and stayed with me for days.