Soft light and plush carpets served to cushion the sobs of mourners as they filed past Carolyn to where her mother lay in a flower-covered coffin.
Funeral homes are designed to offer comfort to the living and respect and dignity to the deceased, the loved one. Such was the case as I watched my sister-in-law accept this final earthly chapter in the life she shared with her beloved mother. They were close, this mother and daughter.
Where is my mother? What about me? When will my mourning cease? I wanted to scream these thoughts to God. I wanted everyone present to hear my cry.
The woman who bore me sat stoically on the Duncan Phyfe sofa a few feet away from Carolyn. The sofa with its curved mahogany frame and sage-green chenille upholstery did nothing to reduce the tension. I sat not two feet away, a chasm between us.
Time was not on our side, this funeral proclaimed. My mother, at eighty-six was some years older than Carolyn's. Each of those years since my birth had dug the divide deeper and deeper until it was a bottomless pit.
I was still the little girl who heard her mother say she wished I was dead, she wished I had never been born, she hated me. Time doesn't heal all wounds, not wounds to the soul and spirit of abused little girls.
That little girl was the one seated beside the woman, not the adult who God in His mercy had lovingly carried all those lonely years. That little girl will never know the answer to this injustice; there is no answer.
There are many four-letter words wielding power; love is one, hate is another, but the word I use to describe this mother-daughter relationship is void. Like a voided check, never to be used, never to be cashed. Unfilled...invalid...empty...nothingness.
I put my arms around Carolyn and felt her pain flood over me. I don't begrudge her the treasure she has lost; she absorbed its value all her years and passed it on to another generation. It is a beautiful thing to witness.
I looked at the stranger seated on the sofa. The advanced years showed in her face and her movements. I sometimes see her when I look into a mirror. My mind wonders, What does she feel? Does she have regrets? Where did it all go so wrong?
No condemnation will come from me; I am not going to confront her. What good would that do now? The choice was truly hers alone, for whatever personal reasons I'll never know. This is a choice no child would ever make.
The little girl came with me as I walked out the door of the funeral home; she is never too far away. She is there even as I carry on the role of mother to my own daughter, but my daughter will never know her.
We share a treasure.
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