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September 13, 2023

Reflections after my Mom’s Death: the Icing on the Cake to Inherited Toilet Paper.

I wiped my ass with my inheritance.

It was toilet paper after all.

My mom died on Mother’s Day and although she’d written me out of her will, she made no provisions for the massive toilet paper supply in her garage. So, I helped myself to it and spent the next year wiping my ass until it ran out.

I thought about her every time my body expelled waste. Years later, the toilet paper was gone—but the tears had started.

The sh*t was an easier cleanup job.

But I’ll always have the icing on the cake.

I can’t remember when the tension between us started. I suspect it was triggered by my uncanny resemblance to my father—the true love she would never have and the source of her angst as a single parent. Growing up, I always tried to be the perfect version of who I thought she needed me to be, but my straight A’s and encore stage performances never seemed to be enough.

Not enough to entice my father back and not enough proof of her value as a parent.

When I became a mother and finally asserted my identity, independent of her own, the noise of my existence angered her beyond what I could manage. I severed ties and began to mourn the loss of a mother I would never know.

Stoic was all I could muster as I walked through the home I had never been invited to, just after her death there on Mother’s Day.

Though her body had been removed, her scent remained, along with a puddle of her blood on the bathroom floor where she had fallen and hit her head. Her spirit also lingered—watching me search for myself in her existence.

But I wasn’t there.

No milestone pictures of me memorialized in carefully curated frames. No high school, college, or police academy graduation pictures, no first moment birthing pictures of me with any of my three children, no proud moments receiving awards—nothing.

I didn’t exist in her.

She successfully curated me out of her world.

Her death was unexpected at 63 years young. And although at 43 myself I no longer needed a mom, I never stopped wanting one and hoping that someday we would have a healthy relationship.

Time got away from us though, just as it had for the partially frosted cake that remained on the kitchen counter.

I couldn’t stop staring at that cake that wasn’t meant for me. I wondered who she thought about as she smoothed the icing in anticipation of gifting it.

I couldn’t help but also think about how she would never know…

>> My tenacity at seeking justice for special victims who look like me when social workers write them off as throwaways.

>> Pride at watching me confront the judicial system to explain how emotions and vulnerability are luxuries some don’t have time to express when in survival mode, like when running from white men giving chase while brandishing nooses.

>> My patience as a hostage negotiator, talking down people in crisis who are struggling to be heard, understood, and acknowledged.

>> My strength and resilience battling crisis after crisis alone, having learned from her example—the one she loathed enduring.

I owe what I’ve come to regard as the icing on the cake to her, though it wasn’t meant for me.

My life of being of value to others could not have been achieved had it not been for our experiences together. I survived and thrived because I exist—independent of her, independent of experience—and that will always be the icing on the cake that shields me from harm when I jump back into the fire for others.


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