A Story for the Weight-Bearers, the Grief-Holders, the ones who are a Little Lost.

0

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 1.0
Shares 6.5
Hearts 4.5
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 2.9
4 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
2
737

For all the children who have taken on the weight of a parent’s grief, this one’s for you.

~

My stomach tightened. There it was again, that question, like clockwork.

“It was good,” I breathed.

My bag slipped from my shoulder. I joined it on the floor, unbuckling my sandals as I prepared my voice, lifting and lightening it.

Then I said, “Really good,” for effect.

He looked up, hopeful, as I drifted past him. But I only offered a vague smile, fiddling with the invisible buttons on my sleeves.

I spoke again when I was in the kitchen, a room away. “And you?” I called. “How was your day?”

The same blurred response wafted in: “Good.”

“Mm,” I murmured.

I watched the beans pile in my bowl, caught between irritation and guilt. I never understood why we all wasted our breath with pleasantries; that’s where the irritation came from. The guilt though, that stemmed from what the French call déception de soi. Or, disappointment in myself.

I’d always wanted to be the kind of woman who had the ability to take someone’s vague “good” and weave it into a sparkling conversation. But I didn’t. I hadn’t the wish to, I guess is the truth, even when I loved the person.

I watched my reflection in the microwave—“Self-absorbed,” I’d heard some say.

As the numbers counted down, I thought of how other young women went about their nights, the good ones I mean, the ones who spill with sweetness. I imagined them smiling as they collapsed onto that couch, growing calmer, happier there.

They didn’t need to be tucked away, as I did. They weren’t pale and grey from working all day. They didn’t want to work all day. They wore rouge A-line skirts, pointy-toed mules. Or else, pink cheeks and yellow dresses—sweet little fools.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I retrieved my bowl and went out to the deck. Out there, the air was weightless and it had that smell of night that always soothed me.

My chest heaved as I sighed, drinking it in.

On the couch, I ate while reading.

“My responsibility is not to the ordinary. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive.”

I swam around in Mary Oliver’s Upstream for a while. I was at peace there, understood.

I couldn’t say how much later it was that I looked up at the moon. I thought, enough time had to have passed. He must be asleep by now.

I was gentle on the door handle, pushing it down slowly. I crept back inside and abandoned my dishes in the copper of the sink. It was quiet, I thought, but that didn’t guarantee what I hoping for. He may easily have been reading to himself, just a room over.

I tiptoed.

He was asleep, and I felt guilty at my relief. He was the sweetest old bear, and yet…

I flit up the stairs.

Smoothing my yellow, corn silk hair, I thought, I look perfectly ordinary. You’d never know I was this person, the kind who creeps through her own house to avoid being loved. But I was.

He deserved more, I thought, placing the brush back down.

I slipped into the toilettes.

But not from me, I thought, closing the door. I could barely keep it together myself—I hadn’t a clue about the best way to care for a full-grown man. I reached for my toothbrush thinking of the weight of his loneliness. It was so heavy.

I thought of Mum, and what it had been like when she was still with us. Turquoise paste oozed across my brush’s bristles. It hadn’t been all that different, I realized—she’d left us mentally far earlier. Mum had been depressed, disordered, and distant. In other words, she’d been no companion for him. I couldn’t recall if she’d ever been, though I assumed at some point they must have been in love.

Still, I’d never seen it.

I stepped back from the mirror and looked at myself, cringing at my healthy shape and thinking of mum’s, the way mine had briefly been. In the next moment, I cringed at my own cringe. Broken, I thought.

I shook my head and turned away from the mirror to lift my blouse in peace.

As I got in bed, I thought of what it meant to “have a good day.” I wondered if I’d ever really had one. I wondered if anyone did. I tried to imagine what it could look like, but my mind was filling quickly with cotton, and before I knew it I’d fallen beneath the blanket of sleep.

~

My dearest weight-bearers,

This one was to legitimize the pain you feel guilty about.

This one was to say, yes, our beloved parents make mistakes—and leaning too heavily on us is one of them.

This one was to peel back the layers of our dependent caretakers, to remember that they are just people too.

Ultimately, this one was to lend a supportive shoulder, to let you know that you’re not alone, that no one has a perfect life, or even a perfect day.

We’re in this game of life, together.

Ever yours,
Mackenzie

~

author: Mackenzie Belcastro

Image: NomiZ25/Deviantart

Editor: Catherine Monkman

0

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 1.0
Shares 6.5
Hearts 4.5
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 2.9
4 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
2
737

Read The Best Articles of November
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.
CLICK TO SEE WHO WON

Mackenzie Belcastro

Mackenzie Belcastro is a writer from Toronto. She is currently working on a series of short stories that dive into the hidden layers of the everyday. Like Therese Fowler and Annie Ernaux before her, she believes that it is there, in the grey and mundane, that pearls of self-knowledge lay. For more from her visit her website.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Mackenzie Belcastro Aug 31, 2018 2:52am

I am so sorry to hear about all you went through, Robyn. Beautiful that you're in the space to forgive now. That's incredibly inspiring, darling ✨ Know that we're all with you on your journey. Sending you love 🌈

Robyn Wallace Aug 26, 2018 11:04pm

Thank you.. your story fits my life with my adoptive mother too a Tee. I carried her grief that she transferred on to me the replacement baby for the loss of her own biological infant through her unresolved grief, bitterness and resentment which lasted towards me until the day she died, infact it worse towards the end. Any love she had for me was conditional and her fear of sonethingy happening to me like it did to her own daughter suffocated me and made me physically ill. I truly believe that Mum had Munchaussen (spelling?) Syndrome because she seemed happiest when I was 'sick in bed' and she could 'look after me'. I was overdressed even in the hot summer because I would 'catch a cold' and not allowed to to do normal things a child does growing up. She chose my friends and visits were planned and limited to our home. I was not allowed to go to my school friends houses like other kids and not like I had any real friends at junior school brcsusecI was the kid with the weird mother, her bitterness overflowed to everyone , tight lipped and oppressive except when she showed her do gooder Christian side. There were no birthday parties with school friends even as I got to High School and then , it all got worse because I was growing up and she couldn't stop it. Control, control., Control. She treated my father like shit and he was the loveliest man and best husband and Father, he never raised his hand to her or raised his voice to her either. We got disciplined from him but rarely spanked. He was just switch off to me like he did to Mum when it all got too much. She chose what I wore, what I ate, when I ate it... everything. My outlet was drawing and playing teacher with my doll and Teddy Bear for hours and hours. I felt a prisoner and I was. Abuse is not just a bash to the head and I know what that is like too from male partners I have hadin the past Thinking that you are entitled to control another person in any way shape or form is abuse. Is it any wonder I broke the engagement and refused to marry you Ian Millar in March, you thought you were entitled, even to use what would be classed as mild physical persuasion, it is not OK, you weren't. You picked the wrong woman if you thought I would stand for that as you soon discovered after the first warning, and then stupidly tried it on a second time and again went into total denial about your violent tendencies. I owe you jack shit for anything financially you did for me. I never asked for any of it and even then you were insistent, how many times did I tell you that you didn't have to buy my affection??? Mum, things could have been so different for your life, all of our lives if you had not been in denial too and had admitted you needed phsychriactric help but no I ended up there too because of you. But Mum if you can hear me...i am coming up 60 years old and I forgive you. RIP John and Elsie Wallace

Mackenzie Belcastro Aug 25, 2018 3:56am

Thanks to you for reading and being, darling 🙏

Barbara Scholten Aug 23, 2018 9:55am

Thank you.