Challenge mode: I’m going to write this post without referencing Castlevania and/or Alucard. Think I can do it? (Let’s be honest here, I give it a couple paragraphs before I fold)
2018 has been a long, hard year. I look back on it, and things that happened this January seem so far away, they may as well be five years ago. When I talk about the last couple months especially, it sounds more like the plot of a soap opera than real life. And now, as 2018 comes to a close, it feels like a major chapter in my story is ending. I’ve written about my family and my experiences with my mother (see When Fiction Mirrors Reality and Responsibilities of Being a Parent), but for the most part I’ve been quiet about recent events.
In November, not even a month after the last time we saw her in court, my mother died of a brain aneurysm. Now, before anyone judges me for not playing the part of the bereaved daughter, hear me out. You didn’t live in my house, and you haven’t had my experiences. I spent the last five years coming to terms with losing a mother. I didn’t feel loss or sorrow at the news; I’d long since shed those tears. What I did feel, on the other hand, was all the anger and hurt come back again. I cried because I knew that after everything, she never “saw the light” so to speak. She never apologized, never looked back. Without diving too deep into personal family matters, even right up to the end there were games, rumours, and nonsense.
I was out walking one day, letting my mind wander, and for the longest time I couldn’t think of the last thing I said to my mother. I don’t remember what I shouted at her as I left the house with her screaming at me, fumbling to put on my shoes on the sidewalk. I don’t remember what I said in the argument that ensued when I got back. I said nothing to her in the courthouse, instead channeling everything into the court room door when I rushed past her as we were leaving (sorry courtroom employees, I do hope I didn’t mess anything up).
But then it hit me: the morning she left us, she took a lot of things. One piece in particular being a snowy landscape painting that hung in our living room. I was in middle school when I made it, with the help of my grandma. Grandma would start on a tree, or paint part of a cloud, and I’d finish the rest. I never really had the time to dedicate to practice, so I never got super into painting, but the couple pieces I’ve done mean a lot to me. But I digress. After I noticed the painting missing, my dad sent her a message asking about its whereabouts. When she replied, I’m not sure if she sent me a copy on purpose or by accident, but my phone buzzed and I saw “I took the Jenny painting because you got the artist”.
It was a long few minutes before I could say anything. I went to my dad, asking what to do, but he had no more answers than I did; it was all new territory for all of us. So after thinking about it, I picked up my phone and typed “It belongs to me, and I am not an object to be bargained for.” And that text is the last thing I ever said to her. I’m okay with that. I lived for 19 years with someone who didn’t see me as my own being, but merely a pawn or a weapon. A bargaining chip. I’m okay with my last words to her standing up for myself, asserting myself as a human being worthy of respect. I’ve got loads of other things I would have liked to say, given the chance, but in the grand scheme of things, none of that matters anymore. I’m fine with what I said. And yes, we eventually got the painting back; it’s since been returned to its home on our living room wall.
I don’t mean for this to be a sad post. I’m not here to throw a pity party and say “look at me and my terrible story”. No, I’m here because I’m hopeful. I can look back at where I’ve been, and I know that there are so many better things to come. This new year is so full of promise and new possibilities, and it’s already off to a great start. This year brings with it a sense of freedom, and is truly a new beginning for me. I’ve learned and grown so much in the past year, and now it’s time to close this chapter. I”m turning the page, grabbing a new pen, and now I get to write the rest of my story. Maybe with a few less plot twists this year, yes?
I think I want to watch the sun rise on New Year’s day. Celebrating at midnight is all well and good, but I think I really want to see this year open with the dawn. Because that’s what this new year feels like: it’s the dawn breaking after a long, dark night for me. I’m optimistic, and I’m ready to walk into this year with everyone I know and love by my side. And for everyone else who’s had a long, hard 2018, we can do this together. Even if an era of our lives is coming to a close, I know something better is coming. It’s going to be beautiful.