Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student
Everyone has a mother, but not everyone is fortunate enough to be blessed with motherhood. As my grandmother acquired custody of me, I was separated from my mom when I was four years old. My grandma felt it necessary to do this by and large due to my mother’s drug use—chiefly, Heroin. Although my mother was allowed to visit me, I would not see her often. She came to visit when she found it necessary, as if there were an agenda. One time my mother came to visit my grandmother and me. She stayed for half a week. When she left, I gave her a hug, a kiss, and told her I loved her. Subsequently, I found my video games missing and my grandmother could not locate her jewelry; I realized, then, why my mother had come to spend time with us. Years passed, revelations were internalized, and my mom and I sustained a weary relationship. However, never have I felt more sorrow than when I returned the phone call that told of my mother’s death.
Although the phone call was the instant that brought the pain, it was the events hitherto that caused the depth of the pain. What is requisite to know are the months leading up to the end of my mother’s time. She was suffering from Ovarian Cancer, which was dubbed inoperable by the doctors because the years of Heroin use had deteriorated her insides to the point where trying to stitch her up would be like tailoring a suit made of tissue paper. In these months she was routinely treated with methadone, which is synthetic Heroin. Knowing my mother’s time was limited, my grandmother would incessantly urge me to see my mother. After all, she lived behind our apartment. Instead I ignored the pain, a fourteen-year-old too young to process the reality, and I went out to skateboard with my friends.
Warm sunshine rays gleamed as the chilling October breeze enveloped the day. It was eight days before I was to turn fifteen. After the sixth period bell rang letting the students out, my friend and I bolted for the front of the school like racehorses. For, on this day we were privileged with a ride from my friend’s mother, ten times better than having to endure the school bus. During the ride, my friend’s mother told him it was payday. My friend decided to take advantage of the situation and ask if we could rent movies. Gleefully, she one-upped him by adding to that the prospect of movie snacks. “Munchies, too!” my friend shouted. With eyes wide open and our mouths watering, we parked at the Albertson’s next to Hollywood Video. We were the hawks, and the munchies were our prey. As we scoped out our victims, I could not help but be happy. With most, this is an ordinary event, but for two teens who grew up on the east side of the tracks, this was the treatment of royalty.
With candy packed into our pockets and movies in our bag, we were chauffeured to the hotel where my friend and his mother resided. This hotel was not glamorous, not worth bragging about by movie stars or famous rappers, but a hotel that stood on a block where drug dealers, drug users, and other destitute souls congregated. We pulled up to the hotel, and as I walked up to the door a man with a face familiar said I needed to return a phone call. I thanked the man and wondered who the caller could be. Inside I was engulfed by pungent odors—stale cigarette smoke and un-bathed body odors—smells I was used to. But what alarmed me was a frantic face telling me I had to call my grandmother. My blood boiled, and my heart churned with regret, for I suspected the purpose of the phone call. My friend’s room was on the third floor, and on my way up I ran into a pale face also telling me of the phone call. My heart became a lump in my throat, making it hard to breathe. Today, still, I see those faces full of gloom, knowing that they were relaying a message to a boy who was yet to know of the pain he was destined to face.
Rushing up that last flight, I entered the room and called my grandmother. She answered. My eyes watered and my voice cracked. My grandmother’s voice was solemn and loving. “It’s your mom. She’s gone. She’s gone to heaven.” She was trying to hold it together, not for her, but for me. I hung up the phone. Walking home, I passed a tree that sat upon a ledge at a Buddhist temple. I sniffled, holding tears back, because as I smelled the sweet floral scent, it reminded me of all the times I had chosen skateboarding at that ledge over spending time with my mother. All I could think of was how I had lost a mother I had never built a real relationship with. Medics had yet to arrive, so my brother took me into the room where she had passed away. Her new kitten rested on her chest. I sat with her sobbing as her kitten’s purr catered to my sorrows. I was told she had died while sleeping, and for that I was grateful.
It is soon to be seven years since then. I have grown beyond holding the regret next to my heart, for I know my mother and I loved each other. Worrying about what I could have done is no longer a matter. I have learned instead to contemplate the present. Now I treat others with a consciousness of life’s volatility. Now I try to critique life positively, and with this adjusted perspective, I have been able to see the good in bad situations. I have never been as sad as I was the day of that phone call, but I will add that ever since I have lived my life with much intent.