*This is the follow up to a piece I wrote last year called Divorce. I was born wanting to go to Paris & went on to live several mini lifetimes scattered over 4 days – always 4 days- there throughout my twenties but the first was with Mum. The entire trip we walked & walked & rode the open air bus happily people watching until it grew dark and the driver asked us to get off so he could go home. It was one of my greatest dreams realised. 

Healing comes with time, but is mostly hard work, Mama

One day I parade about the house scant, awkward, a tentative exhibitionist. My body has shed the last of childhood but is only on the cusp of being womanly & has the boring perfection that we are taught to covet. An unused vessel.

I’m dramatically stating that I want Closer played from beginning to end on vinyl at my funeral and to be cremated in the cheapest coffin available. Commercialism is bullshit. People have robbed minimalism of its politics. The dull ramblings of a teen idealist. 

I don’t even think you are actually listening until you yell at me, voice box hot full of fire, eyes wet full of tears. “I will not be at your funeral Luana, I am your mother so I will not be there” 

I acknowledge you with a shrug of ambivalence.

A daughter is a mothers torturer.

One day you sit me on the end of your bed and tell me that he is leaving. I almost stifle a laugh because I’m configured incorrectly and because the fact was so obvious to me but mostly because it hurts less to be hard. Your face contorts with blindsided agony, it steals the breath from my lungs. I want to grab you and run so that we miss everything that is aimed, but of course I know that we will be finding shattered pieces of you all over and for years to come so I say nothing and let you break the way you need to. 

One day I wake in the middle of a sweltering Roman night to find you trying to negotiate a computer with my aunt. I turn back to bed without disturbing the scene knowing that you are going to take me to Paris, my greatest dream.

It’s not real to me until we are flying in over the Eiffel Tower and I can’t stop crying because it is here and it is so beautiful but mostly because in this moment I thought that everything you sacrificed just to make ends meet would be worth it. Ofcourse it doesn’t feel that way, there is no such pay off between a single parent and child. I look over to see you ignoring the view & staring directly at me, you whisper “You’re here, I fucking did it” and I understand that it is in fact your dream come true we are in. 

One day the doctor tells me he has to take the baby out of my womb before the sun sets today or she will die. Despite the fact that I know you are absolutely the worst person to call in an emergency, I cannot properly concentrate on anything that is being said until I speak to you. And your reaction was worse than mine but there is a certain comfort in that. Everybody is so calm I say and you tell me they are ridiculous, the first words that feel true. You tell me I’ll have to be strong for the baby and that fits just right too. 

Not long after I hang up the phone you burst through the ward door, having driven here despite me saying not too and the pain on your face mirrors my own. This is how I learn that my daughter does not belong to me alone.

And so she is born and she is perfect and everything will be ok but I still manage to find the deepest part of that and drown myself in it. You are stoic the whole time, patiently waiting for me to surface. 

One day is today, a long lunch in the summer sun, a rickety old home once yours, now mine. The girls & the baby tugging on our aprons, I roll the gnocchi just like you do only not as well, the way we are all taught. Maybe this is what you meant when you lied & said you knew it would all be ok. No one in the throws of despair dares to dream so big but here we are. Nothing is perfect or easy but the beautiful calamity of an expanding family feels like a rebirth. Young children do not let you live in any moment but theirs, here, now. 

There is debris fucking everywhere, broken parts of an old life pieced back together as best you could. But only we can see it. There is also peace in the way we prop each other up, quietly, just by being together. Healing comes with time but is mostly hard work, Mama. 

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