I lost my mother 11 years ago today.

I lost my mother eleven years ago, January 18th, and this will always be engraved in my memory. I was only twelve at the time and her death impacted my life in such a large way. I remember when I first found out she had died. I was sitting in my grandparents’ living room, they lived just down the road. My dad came in looking a little uneasy. I asked him what was wrong and he refused to answer. I jokingly asked if my mom had died. He asked me if I’d like to walk home with him, and I did. We started heading outside and said goodnight to my grandparents. As we walked the old torn up streets of the small town I grew up in, I could sense that my dad had a lot on his mind. He stopped in the middle of the street and told me. He told me my mom had taken too many pills and passed in her sleep.

My world shattered, and for a moment, I felt as if  I didn’t exist anymore. The world caved in around me. I sank to the earth and my body hit the road. I couldn’t do anything in this moment but cry. After a few seconds, my dad picked me up off the pavement and carried me to his 1984 Ford pickup. He put me in the passenger’s seat and he walked around to the driver’s side. The door slung open and he climbed into the old truck. The seats were worn from all the years of use, and it smelled like old oil and sweat. This truck was the same vehicle my dad used while working years earlier. He spent a lot of time driving back and forth from Houston Texas where my mother had lived when I was younger.  I was gifted the very same truck when I first got my license, and I drove the tires off of it. After sitting for what seemed like hours, I realized I hadn’t asked about my little brother.  I needed to know where he was. My youngest brother was living with my mother at the time, and he didn’t have a dad. My dad had always tried to play the role of a positive male influence, and we all loved my baby brother.

My dad told me that he and my step mom had intentions of adopting my youngest brother. He was my mother’s son (biologically) and I knew my step mom wouldn’t really care to have him around, but we took him anyway. I sometimes regret the fact that my parents took him in. That sounds selfish I know, but those are terrible thoughts. I don’t truly wish that at all, but I imagine that his life could have been much different.

We went to the foster home where my brother was being held until further notice. His little red face looked so sad there. I brought him a teddy bear that mom had given me. I wanted him to know that I was here for him. Even though this was the year that I began to feel more alone than ever. This was one of the few fond moments I carry of my step mother. She seemed like a new person, like she was a caring individual. She acted almost motherly as she talked with the foster parent, and effortlessly played the part of the distraught mother. I was a little shocked, mostly because I hadn’t seen her act this way with me before. She even allowed me to sit in the passenger’s seat of the car instead of in the far back where I was normally instructed to sit. Her face was covered in sunshine and for a moment I thought things were going to be better.

Over the next few days I received a ton of gifts. I had beanie babies sent to my front door with hopes and prayers written on the cards. I became overwhelmed and I wasn’t sure how to handle the pressure of keeping my composure. After a few days we were able to get possession of my youngest brother and he moved his things into my room. We shared a room until we moved into our next home, but I will get to that later on. My brother was only 7 when he found her body, and listening to his tiny voice tell how he found her broke my heart.

My brother told me that he woke up late for school the day she died. He also said the man who was with my mom told him he would drive him to school. The young kid woke up and went to check on his mother. He told me that he knew the man was dead because his eyes were open, but he wasn’t sure about mom. He attempted to shake her and talk to her, but she had a tendency of getting black out drunk. This all seemed normal for her. She was always getting herself too high and passing out. The woman slept in bed for what felt like days. He decided to watch cartoons in the living room because she was bound to wake up later, right?

He sat an entire day in the midst of these two bodies decaying in the back room. After  3 pm he decided that he might need to call someone. He had been instructed in the past not to call the police anymore (One too many calls after mom passes out drunk). He called his uncle Andy. Andy was a good man, and he had always been there to protect my mom’s children. He rushed over and discovered the worst. He saw my mom and the man laying in bed, dead.

Before the funeral, my dad asked me to write a letter to my mother, to put into the casket with her. I sat at the kitchen table with a pen and paper, wondering what the hell I was supposed to write to a dead person. When my pen finally hit the paper I wrote the beginning, which basically said that this was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. To be honest with you, writing about it after the fact is seemingly much more difficult. I loved my mother with all of my heart. She was my moon and stars and she loved me for every bit of a fucked up disaster and terror that I was. She always without a doubt made me feel loved and wanted. She made some very poor choices and that ruined the relationship that I had built with her, but those choices have already been made. I didn’t get to choose.

The funeral was bleak, and people I hadn’t seen in years flooded in wearing dark colors and looking sad. I saw my mom’s most recent ex-husband “Scott”. Scott was the man who was most like my mom. They both were the low people in society, and they fell in love. I watched the way he treated her and it was pleasant. He seemed like he loved and cared for her and I wasn’t used to her boyfriends doing that. Scott said hello to me and all I could do was feel disgusted with him. He was supposed to love and protect her, or at least that’s what they said in their wedding vows.

When the time came to put my letter into the casket, I could not get close enough to do so. Her lifeless body was laying inside of this plain box, and I couldn’t stand to look at it. All the life that she had once had was gone. Her charming smile was gone and the big blue eyes she had were closed forever. I miss the way she used to smell, and the way she used to hug me. No one has ever hugged the way she did. She and my dad used to tell me that I was a free spirit, and I didn’t know what that meant until I got older. I’d like to say that my mother’s death was tragic and that I blame the world, but the only person I can blame is my mother herself. She was reckless and did not think of her children first, and now we pay the price.

This is all part of my long journey. I am sharing my story one word at a time.

 

-Taylor J.

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