“It was the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last.” Those were the last words she would ever hear from me. How I desperately crave I could go back and say anything but those harsh words. To tell her I love her, to say: “Mom, it’s going to be okay, we’re going to make it through this. You’ll be safe again…”
Her pain did not die along with her but rather slipped away like a deadly plague, searching for its next victim. That’s when it latched on to me, coiling itself around my lungs and heart, sickening my brain. Pain doesn’t disappear and all the agony my mother felt in her life, slithered its way to my soul and settled itself somewhere deep inside. Making a nest in my good memories of us, ripping them to pieces to make itself more comfortable.
His hate, his anger, that made its way to me too. No one else seemed to reciprocate the pain and anger like I did. My younger brothers grieved, but they did not feel the swarming and heat running inside, like I do. I felt the punches and beatings. I felt my skin swell up and bruise as hers did. I could feel the deep sting as I applied concealer and powder over my black eyes and bruises. I felt the gratitude of all my children being graduated and out of the house.
I remembered the shock and pain, I remembered the denial. The first hit that came, the stunningness of it and the cover up. My daughter tried to warn me, “It was the first time, but it wouldn’t be the last.” That’s what she told me, but I didn’t listen… I should have listened.
He was coming at me, “…it wouldn’t be the last.” Every time those words rang through my mind and eventually that’s all I heard, that’s all I felt. I was empty, and I laid there empty. The relief was nice, the escape from my body, the absence of pain.
I believe that when the night arrived, the night I expected from the first time with out realizing, I wasn’t at all surprised… and I didn’t care. He came with thunder under his steps but it was dull to me and far away and the realness of it never seemed to reach me.
That’s how she felt, my mother. I cry at the thought that even though I never inflicted her pain, I never stopped it. I thought she would wake up and leave him, but now she will never wake up again, neither of them will.
The neighbors heard the yelling and crying, and called the police. As the sirens screamed down the road from her house, a series of shots silenced her empty cries and his drunken rage.
A thought crossed my mother’s mind on her final breath and she smiled as she abruptly ended.
“It wasn’t the first time, but it would be the last.”