After the Tree book project


I am like one of the many men who broke my mother’s heart. She reaches out for me, her slender, warm fingers reach for me, but I am ice, receding like a glacier trying to preserve itself from the water, unaware that it is becoming smaller and smaller, that the water has already swallowed a portion of its hardness. She is in the midst of hurricanes now, one after the other—Frances, Charley, Ivan, Jeanne—all names some mother somewhere has given her child. One day, she knows, one day, I will melt and return to her, a child submerged in the waters of the womb. She knows that her deluge is far more destructive to my ice than a sledgehammer. Knowing this, too, I struggle against her.
Unable to stop myself, I shrink away from her even as I reach back to embrace her or return her I love you, the “too” falling into the receiver before I hang up, the last thing she hears before the click. My I love you, too is a breath of obligation, heavy and deep. Her declaration of love for me is an inhale she has been waiting eagerly to release; it fills my chest and sucks out my air, suffocating me. If I did not return it, if I did not exhale—I love you, too—we would both nearly die.
I tried it once, years ago. To leave her breath out there in the void, to hang up with her I love you filling both our ears. I was angry with her about some issue; I felt not an ounce of love for her that day; I was determined to be honest, to not pretend. At the end of our conversation, nothing had been resolved.
“I love you,” she said. Automatically, expectantly.
“Hmm. Bye,” I answered and quickly hung up.
Her tears, the tears I did not see, filled my lungs until the next time we talked and I answered back swiftly, obediently: I love you, too.


4 thoughts on “Mother-love

  1. Very well written, yet very sad. I too have experienced a few moments of rebellion where I refused the love I inherently hold in honor of my mother out in my words…and all the same, sorrow and regret fill in the gap that the “I love you too” was intended to fill. But I am a fast learner and have repented and committed to never act in that way again, both for my own and my mother’s sake!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Wingman! Yes, I have come far! This piece captures how I spent much of my 20s, but now that I am 40 and have lived a lot more, we are closer now than ever! I started reading your book– FASCINATING! I will give feedback when I finish the chapter I started. Keep it up!

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