Broken Past but a Hopeful Future
Broken Past but a Hopeful Future
It has been four years since I’ve spoken to my mother. I was thirteen the last time I saw her face in person, and I was eleven the last time I shared a laugh with her. I’ve always had a pretty good memory. It can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. I remember the good times; the times before everything started to turn upside down. I remember one day in February when school got canceled from the snow. It was completely unexpected, and every kid in my neighborhood was beyond excited as they raced outside of their house with their six layers of jackets and gigantic snow boots that they could barely walk in. I was sick, though, and couldn’t go outside. I remember being so heartbroken, watching the kids through my window having the time of their lives. My mom wanted to make it up to me, so she took me to our favorite café, where we drank the most heavenly hot cocoa and ate the most delicious cinnamon rolls. We talked about my favorite TV show at the time, Hannah Montana, and what my life would be like if I was a character in that TV show. I remember being so invested in the conversation and so happy that my mom was interested in something that I liked. I have many more memories like that with her, where times were so simple, and I was, well, happy. Sometimes I find myself thinking of those times. It makes me feel as though I am still living it. Other times, though, it just makes me feel worse. When I think too much about the past, instead of seeing it in a positive light, it reminds me of all the things I don’t have anymore; everything special that I lost. In turn, it can make me feel despair like never before. That’s where having a good memory can be a curse.
Everything started to turn south when my dad died. I was never really close with my dad, but his death still hit me hard. It especially hit my mom. She became more and more distant from me and the rest of my family. She became a different person, almost unrecognizable. When she got a boyfriend, I would barely see her. Eventually, she decided to move across the country to San Francisco with him. I was left to live with my grandparents and their two dogs in Delaware. Times were slow from there, and every day was the same. Go to school, go to swim practice, and go home. My grandparents always tried to take me out or do something with me, but I refused.
I’m seventeen now, and one week ago I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. Usually, I don’t answer unknown numbers, but this time I did. It was my mother’s soft, breathy voice saying the words “Hi Lola”. When I heard her say my name, I froze. I couldn’t seem to get words to come out of my mouth. It felt as though every bone in my body was numb, and I was a statue with my phone in my shaking hand. I was so confused. Why would she call me now, after four years? Why did she wait this long? I was filled with more anger than confusion, though. I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to tell her all the pain she put me through, and how selfish she was for leaving me in the dark. She started to talk again before I could get anything out.
“I talked to grandma and grandpa. They agreed to drive up here with you when you’re ready. I want to see you.” I didn’t know at all what to say or think at that point. There was a long pause before I could mumble out—
“Uhh… I… I’ll call back after I think about it.” I hung up the phone in an instant, only realizing that I had done it after the fact. I sat alone in my room for a good hour and a half, staring at my wall, before going downstairs to see my grandparents. Before I could even say anything, they knew by the look on my face that I had gotten the call. I wasn’t expecting to cry, but when they held out their arms to embrace me, the tears came without question. Grandma stroked my long, dark brown hair, and grandpa rubbed my back as they comforted me. There were so many things going through my head at once, but grandma and grandpa always knew how to make me feel better. In this case, I didn’t need ice cream, a rented movie, or game night. I just needed someone to hold me, and that’s exactly what they did.
I ended up not calling her back. I told my grandma that I didn’t want to talk to her on the phone, but that I wanted to see her in person. It was two weeks after that when we began the road trip. I wrote a list of things I wanted to say to her and questions I wanted to ask her. Even with that, I didn’t feel ready to see her again. I came to a realization that I would probably never feel ready.
Grandma and grandpa were playing Queen songs in the car, which happens to be a band that we all love. Other than that, we all have very different tastes in music. I could listen to Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy all day, but grandma and grandpa stick to Classical and Jazz, which is why I find it funny that they enjoy listening to Queen. As I was in the back seat, staring at the questions I had written down, I started to overthink everything, and overthinking is one of my bad habits. I seem to do it too much, which never ends well.
“What if she changes her mind and doesn’t want to see me? You know what, this was a bad idea. Is it too late to turn back? I don’t think–”
“Lola, sweetheart,” my grandma cut me off with a reassuring voice, “Your mother, she has been going through a very tough time these past few years, and that is not an excuse because I know you have too, but I’ve been talking to her, and I know she’s ready. She’s ready to see you. It’s not going to be easy at first, but I know you, and I know her. Trust me, it will come naturally.” I took her words to heart. My grandma has always been understanding, and I know I can trust her. I crumpled up the paper with the questions and put it in my bag.
“I hope so, I’m just scared, I guess.”
“I know, dear, I know.”
The car ride was just a blur after that. I spent the rest of it staring out my window admiring the beauty of the outdoors. When we pulled up to the driveway, my heart was beating faster than my train of thought. I tried taking deep breaths as I stepped out of the car and into the fresh air, but that was no help. I tired to draw my attention on the house. It was a beautiful pastel yellow color, with a very old- fashioned touch to it. The view of the skyscrapers behind it was astonishing. I couldn’t help but gasp at the beauty of it all. Compared to Delaware, I felt like I was in a completely different world. When we got to the front door, grandpa rang the doorbell, and in less than five seconds I heard footsteps and the knob turning. The door opened slowly, and immediately I was drawn to my mother’s big, beautiful, green eyes. As I looked at them suddenly all the fear inside of me faded. All of the anger and confusion in me turned into ache and love. In her eyes, I noticed the same brokenness I saw when I looked in the mirror. A thousand memories, memories that I didn’t even realize I had, flashed through my mind. As we stood there, I was the same little girl I was six years ago, and she was the same mother I knew. From that moment on, I knew it would be okay.