The Light In The Dark Places
Happy Mother's Day Nana.
Growing up in a broken home with a single mother and guys constantly coming in and out of my life was difficult. I often felt neglected and unworthy of love. The only constant in my life was my grandmother. She was supportive and so strong. She had to listen to stories of emotional and psychological abuse and bear it, unable to do anything since that type of abuse isn't easily seen, much less proven. She’d take us away as often as she could, sacrificing a social life to make sure she was available to us at all times.
I can’t tell you how many times she’d dropped everything to compensate for my mother being too lazy or too drunk to bother to parent. It was hard, once I understood how much she was giving, I tried to hide things. But she knew me too well. When I’d ask her what gave me away, she’d smile and say something along the lines of ‘the look on your face’. And I’d tell her.
She brought us under her angelic wing and into her loving arms, filling my empty tank with all the love she had until it was overflowing, and then some. She put all of herself into taking care of us, taking over the role of a parent in the absence of ours. She supported us through school, chauffeured for us and our friends, allowed sleepovers and let us have free rein over choices.
And she never disappointed me.
Which meant a lot to me since I’d become used to cancelled plans and broken promises. She provided anything I could wish for, listened to me on the bad days and patiently held me, building me back up with loving encouragement. She has run herself ragged, straight into pits of despair in order to get us something we wanted. Like one going to see one more movie or getting that really cool poster. I had wanted for nothing.
I had almost every holiday at her house, sleepovers during the weekends were the best part of my week and often didn’t last long enough. I’d arrive on Friday night, which was nacho night. A night of movies, comfort food and bouts of sobbing. Releasing a lot of that negative energy from home. Saturday was a day of adventure, of finding new things and going to new places.
And that night we’d cuddle up in one big bed and laughter would brighten the dim room, familiar lullabies sending us off to a peaceful slumber. Sundays were days of grief. Of petty fights and more crying because, ‘why did we have to leave’?
I didn’t realize how much of an impact she made on me until she’d left. She moved far away, hoping to build something for herself, to allow us a place to be. That’s when it all went downhill. Days seemed dimmer as getting out of bed became more difficult. Each waking moment I was caught in a tug of war between my sister and mother, screaming matches making my ears ring. And I went quiet, silently trying to deal with the pain while simultaneously trying to fill up the empty chasm that my grandmother used to reside in.
I didn’t realize how much she did until I tried to fill up those shoes. But there wasn’t enough of me. I wasn’t nearly enough. So my sister went to a place I couldn’t follow, white walls and the smell of giving up. I was left with my toxic mother in a household I was constantly trying to get away from. My mom hid it from my grandmother, lying about why she couldn’t talk to my twin, and I didn’t know. I just never brought it up cause it was painful.
But even if I never said it out loud, she could hear it in my voice. She never needed to see my face to know that something was wrong. She called the hospital that day, and when my sister told her to come home, she did. She left behind all material things and came back. Regardless of the fact she had nothing she insisted that we were enough. And I, for once, believed her.
Because if my home could be her, then why couldn’t hers be me?
And she stayed, with nowhere to belong, no job, no car, she stayed. Built herself up until she could be a source of stability. I stayed with her more and more until I was barely home anymore. Finding solace and sleep held within her space, climbing into bed with her on terrible nights and she’d welcome me with open arms even though I’d gotten nearly too big. And she’d reassure me every time that, no matter how big I got, I’d still be her baby.
As I aged, I got to learn new things about her that only made me respect her more. She’d faced hardships I couldn’t even fathom going through, she lived through most people's worst nightmare and came out stronger. She was everything that I looked up to, everything that I strive to be as a person. And she’s there. Just as she’s always going to be there.
And I can’t ever thank her enough for that. There are no words for how grateful I am for her presence in my life. And I don’t tell her nearly enough as she deserves but I love her. I love her so, so much.
She showed me that even if my mother was an example of what not to be, Then my grandmother was an example of who I wanted to become.
About the author
I am a twenty one year old aspiring poet with a love for writing stories and keep up various separate journals. I am new to the whole 'professional writing' thing so this is going to be a learning experience!