Am I Here?

She sat in the car. Feeling numb and sluggish. Thoughts floating in and out of her mind. How did it come to this? How had her life ended up here? She was a young girl once, with dreams and ideals. She had goals for her life. Ending up a useless, sick middle-aged nobody wasn’t one of them.

Growing up was hard. Her parents weren’t ready for such a monumental job as parenting. They were young and immature, but it’s not their fault her life went nowhere. Yes, there was the almost constant physical and emotional abuse in the house thru the years, but she had good coping skills. She was a people pleaser, always trying to do the right thing, be the “good girl”, the “good student” the “good” everything. She didn’t always succeed, but more often than not, she did.

She wanted to be a lawyer. She wanted to do family law, so she could help children from abusive homes, help women break away from controlling husbands. But as senior year came, the reality of needing either alot of money or huge scholarships, slapped her square in the face, and life happened instead.

She got married, to a controlling and abusive husband. Had three beautiful little boys, who she loved with all her heart. Not having a career, or a loving relationship, left her alot of time and energy to place all her love on those boys. They were her life. They are who she lived for.

She stood between them and her abusive husband when he wanted to instill harsh discipline. She made sure things stayed “just so” around the home to keep the peace. She made excuses for the boys when their rooms weren’t tidy or their grades weren’t stellar. She made sure to always scrape together enough money to give the boys wonderful birthdays and Christmases! Seeing them open their gifts or blow out birthday candles with the glow of pure innocent happiness…made all the bad things in life worth going thru.

The years passed, the boys grew. The older they got, the less they needed her. She still stayed the “buffer” between the kids and the rest of the cruel world. Sacrificed all she could to make sure they were happy. The oldest, Christopher, was the first to move out, at 21 he was in a serious relationship and moved in with his girlfriend. He was such a good kid growing up, much like his mother, he was a pleaser. She worried most about this one though, as he was just a tad on the “sensitive” side. He felt things deeply and and felt as though he was not the perfect person he thought everyone expected him to be. Much as she herself felt.

Her middle son left a year later, off to California to live with friends. This about ripped her heart out. The thought of not having her child within a car rides distance was almost too much to bear. But with texts, emails and Skype, she was learning to deal with this “bad” situation, much as she had to learn to deal with so many “bad” situations in her life.

At 18, her youngest Kyle was the last one at home with her. Her baby. He had become the closest to her emotionally of her children. Probably a bit more sheltered and fussed over, being the baby of the family. He seemed to really have the most empathy. He tried to look after his mom. He was the one who noticed when she started to lose weight and stay in bed somedays. He was worried about her, but he was leaving for the Army soon, his dad thought the Army would “toughen” him up. Kyle wasn’t interested in being tough, but felt he hadn’t many options but to join up.

Why get out of bed? She thought one morning around 10am…what’s the point? Would anyone even notice if she didn’t? Other than the dishes in the sink, that might be the one clue to anyone that she wasn’t around that day. What’s she going to do now? She has raised her children and now they are gone. They no longer needed her. Her husband only needed her to bring him his beer and keep his house clean.

The days dragged on and on…the only bright spots being the calls and visits from her sons. They weren’t very frequent though…they were busy with their own lives now. It hurts to feel you put all your love into these little lives, only to grow older and more alone with very little love in return. She felt fatigued more than anything really. Her whole body ached somedays, so she did the chores that couldn’t be ignored and that was it.

At Kyles insistence a year later, she saw her physician for the fatigue and weightloss. They drew blood and performed some other tests and she went back to her daily existence. A week later, she received a phone call. The doctor told her the news right on the phone,..the news wasn’t good, nope, not good at all.

Pancreatic cancer. Which equals “Death Sentence.” She was in a fog the first week after the diagnosis. Just stumbing thru her days, mostly in bed…even her uncaring husband didn’t ask anything of her. She didn’t want to tell the boys right away. She didn’t want to have to draw up the energy to console THEM.

She didn’t have much time left at all. Less than three months. How would she get everything ready in such a short time? Especially when the last month would be a mostly bedridden one? She went about making her own funeral arrangements and after a week, finally called her sons. But none of the three could seem to agree on a good day for them to come for a visit, they were all so busy, with work, relationships, vacations…she told them this was important. She needed them to come.

When they finally arrived, each grumbling about what a kink this visit was putting into their current schedules. She had worked all day on a big dinner. Glazed ham, garlic mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, white corn, homemade biscuits and gravy. By the time the table was set, she was in so much physical pain she could barely carry the meal to the table. With tears in her eyes, she began serving.

Noone noticed that she didn’t eat, just pushed food around on her plate. The men all carried on a boisterous conversation about current affairs, politics mostly…the one topic she couldn’t stand to talk about or even listen to.  They laughed with their father, joked with him, agreed with most of his views. Have they forgotten how this man behaved toward them growing up? Don’t they recall his tirades? Do they even remember their mom having to stick up for them or keep them from being harshly punished? Do they remember her staying up with them all night when they were ill? Or staying up to help with a last minute science project? Do they recall her holding them, rocking them or consoling them during each of their youthful “crisis” of the moment?

Do they see her as a person? As a woman? As a little girl who sat in the woods, dreaming of the day she would be in a court of law, sending some abusive man off to jail for the atrocities he had his family endure? No. No, they see her as mom. Nobody amazing or special. Just someone who was there whenever they wanted her to be, but who disappeared when they didn’t need her.

She was disposable. She was invisible. She, who had always tried to so carefully “control” her little piece of life…was nobody. But, she wasn’t going to let cancer control how she would die. This she really could control.

Of course the boys all cried and expressed their grief over the fact that she was indeed going to die. She patted their backs, and hugged them and dried their tears. She assured them that she was in no pain and that although she would be leaving them, she would always be in their hearts, and would be forever watching over them from Heaven. After a week of this, they all had to get back to their lives…and she got back to her “non” life.

But now, here in the car, with soft ocean sounds coming from her cd player, the engine quietly idling, she was once again dreaming. With her eyes closed she was once again that little girl, sitting on a stump in the woods…the sun shining down thru the leaves. The trickle of the nearby creek being the music then. She dreamed of the life she thought she’d have. She was important. She was “good”. She was needed.

To that she drifted off to sleep, in a heavily medicated fog, mixed with the carbon monoxide from being in the car…in the garage…for most of the day, without ever having been missed, by anybody.

 

I WAS Here

Being forgotten is worse then not being noticed.

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2 thoughts on “Am I Here?

  1. Story drew me right in — I could feel the physial and emotional pain, the suffering and the loss, the aloneness and self-sacrifice. It can be so hard to feel need, wanted, and loved, especially when you’re emotionally and physically in pain.
    She may have touched peoples’ lives in ways she never saw; that she did matter to someone for what she gave them of herself.

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