Sunday, October 4, 2015

Interviewing My Mother

There is never a bond stronger
than the one between a mother and her daughter
Times may get rough, but the two of you share
the same mitochondrial DNA, the same spirit, 
the same soul, the same essence
There is nary a time when you think that
the bond would be severed
that a life would be ripped away so soon
You never expect to speak to the woman
who gave you life, to ask how it felt as hers ended
you never think to ask: 

“What was it like dying?"

“Radiation turned my skin red,
my beautiful hair, my source of pride,
came out, falling onto my pillow
as if my body itself, were weeping
Your aunt came over that day
shaving my head, removing my crown
My goddess-like qualities
became mortal, after all

But I had a smile on my face,
when you got home from school that day
My new crown of glory rested on my head,
A new testament to our own mortality
It was an unexpected surprise that
wasn’t unexpected at all

There were five of your - three of blood, two of love
my beautiful children
You were only newly ripped from the womb when,
you learned the lesson of death
A lesson I taught you

But my life has meaning, how could it not?
I had all I wanted in life
My dreams fulfilled, my lover, my kin
And most importantly of all
I had you

It just wasn’t enough to live for

But once you got right down to it
Dying wasn’t so bad - once you got past the grief
My body, it ached. Walking became difficult
Your grandmother, who was aged herself
Became my crutch, carrying me, leading me
even to the bathroom
A simple task, I could no longer do

How could I fight it any longer? My brain deteriorated 
fleeting memories of better times
tormenting my body
“Go wash, you’re dirty” I’d say
though you had just showered
Words I did not mean
A world I no longer comprehended
Oh my body….how heavy it felt
Even after losing my breast
my body hung like stone

But we still had fun

Your grandmother would stand beside me
inappropriately grabbing my breast
the one that was no longer there
but we laughed and laughed
for it was funny and naughty
and if we couldn’t poke fun at the situation
I’d be dying in a different way

For two years I fought,
and then I was cleared
My body was healing
I could finally move on
I made jokes, I lightened the mood
I talked about how my new breasts
would be bigger than yours
but it wasn’t in the cards 
not for you
and not for me

How could I go through it again?
I would have been on chemo for life
and radiation for sure

A red, shell of a person
but I didn’t have it in me, not this time
It was just too much

I withered away before your eyes
A rose fighting for life
in the clutches of winter

I wish i could say I had a glorious end
One filled with trumpets and singers
A real menagerie, but it wasn’t
It was in the living room
Surrounded by family, yet confined to my bed
It was where you found out what it truly felt
to die”

Interviewing My Family

Memories fade just like scars
that decorate the skin
At first they are red and ugly
but they lose their venom
changing into a thin, white line
and when they ask where you got
Such a testament of strength 
You can hardly remember

The same can be said for remembering
Someone that you loved
Hell, someone you still love
At first the grief is raw
and you remember everything about them
but as the venom slowly seeps away
you can't seem to remember
Just what their voice sounded like
Or what color they wore the most

The little things you took knowing for granted
The little things that are easy to forget
Even when they made up your mother
Have turned into a thin, white memory

When asking my family about their memories
it's common to hear the same stories
the same tales that have stood the test of time

My cousin, Jenny, fondly recalls
Growing up with my mother
Remembering all the good times they had
and the bad

When I asked her what her favorite was

it had little to do with my mother
when she was alive

she spoke of having her surgery
and having the doctor ask
just who ‘Bonnie’ was
"I had no idea why he asking
but all I had been saying while I going under was
“Don’t leave me and don’t let go of my hand”
When I woke up, nobody was there
but my hand had been closed 
As if I had been holding someone’s hand
only your mom was no longer there
she couldn't have been. “

My Uncle John thought of the times spent together 
relaxing on the farm, sitting around the bonfire
The sounds of animals piercing the night
My mother's other children-
and his nieces and nephews
They would ride the quads during the day
and put on a haunted hayride at night
Pizza would be ordered and Smores' would be made
while the ashes surrounded us
and danced the dance of life and death 

I could have asked my mother a lot
Asked about her favorite memories
Or how she felt as she brought life into the world
Not only for me and my siblings
but for the horse that was born on our farm
the one whose placenta sack she helped remove
or all of the animals she gave a second chance to
The ones she rescued, the ones she loved
No matter how battered she felt on the inside

Strength comes in many forms
Hiding beneath the thin, white lines
decorating your once perfect skin
waiting to shine through and show
just how life goes on