You're the Ethel to my Lucy
chocolate always makes it better
I will not dwell on the things that could have been. How easily those broke our hearts. Regret is long gone, never belonged here between you and I. Our story is now. I’m no liar, but I’ve never been good at confessions. As you know, I lost my voice, the real one, years ago, and I haven’t quite recovered.
But I wanted you to know that I remember those nights when I was scared of the thunder and you stayed awake with me, watching “I Love Lucy” until the power went out and we turned to your stash of assorted chocolates, hidden under the bed, for comfort. You always had a plan for catastrophes.
When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I thought, “Brave like my mother,” because even though you cowered at mice and needles, you chased success, not for admiration but so you could feed your children, give them a future. I’m sorry for the times I took you for granted.
Somewhere in your house, there’s a pillow with the quote embroidered, “A daughter is a little girl who grows up to be your best friend.” I didn’t understand until I was older and it felt too late. You never asked for my affection but desperately needed it. I’m sorry I didn’t know you, the real you, sooner.
You were the only person who would entertain my curiosities, wanted to make them a reality. Remember when we drew blueprints for my zoo, concocted secret identities, pretended we discovered a historical treasure? You never told me I couldn’t achieve something. And, honestly, I had a rude awakening when I moved out and realized how impossible the chase really felt.
I never knew how tired you were, working, going to school, making sure we got new shoes, and books, and stupid thing that kids always want. I cannot imagine the pain, the sacrifice you made that day in September when you brought me into the world. I didn’t ask to be born, but I’m grateful for it.
I find more similarities between us now that I’m grown and you stopped planning for catastrophes. Sometimes, I forget which one is supposed to be the mother as we stumble through what we have left together, figuring it out as we go. I hope you know I wanted to stay with you longer, get wine drunk and watch old movies on the weekend, garden, for some odd reason, only when it rained.
I remember the days when we felt like strangers, the years you were the question asker. “How was school?” “What did you learn?” “Do you have any projects?” And I would answer in the simplest ways because I didn’t know what you wanted me to say in those few moments we had together. Sometimes, I still don’t.
In college, I asked when, if ever, you lived for yourself, not out of judgment but because I didn’t know how to do it myself. I wish I could have told you then, with a voice that’s been long gone, that I didn’t want a life like yours — stuck in a loveless marriage, abandoning your passion, always struggling to make ends meet. Instead, I let disappointment consume me. I wish I understood sooner that our talks would lead to your own awakening, a calling that even mothers need to strive for something better.
Really, I wanted you to know that I saw it all, the things you did to keep me whole. I was bitter and dwelling on what didn’t feel right, so I never took the time to thank you. I love you like Lucy does Ethel, some sort of half to a whole.
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