By some unfortunate twist of fate I was born, not with the gift of laughter, but on the cusp of slaughter. Not at the hands of the father, like Isaac to Abraham, but at the hands of a cruel and knife-wielding mother who was narcissistic, unstable, borderline and, worst of all, just plain mean.
We have complicated and fancy words now and rarely call people mean, but that is what she was, like a kid pulling the wings off of flies or burning ants alive, I was her insect.
My father, who should have been my protector, because he was aware, was largely absent. Gone for days every week and weeks every month on business trips. And my mother saw in me, magnified and right before her eyes everything she hated in my father writ large. So it was me she scorned, punished and kicked the shit out of.
It was me she slaughtered, more than my older brother and my younger sister, I bore the scars--scars in three places on my head by the time I was four. I was a pin-cushion for her invective and her cruelty.
Yet, she gave me gifts, even if they came from the back of her hand. A love for books, a love for words, a sense of humor (the only way I have survived) and for those I thank her. She gave me a hunger to learn, which I still have. Most of all, she gave me a bad example. She showed me in real life every day, day in and day out, what I would not become. In this way, she became an inspiration.
But for the abuse, the cruelty, the lack of support, the absence of niceness, I can't forgive and after 33 years of therapy, I can't either forget. It's just there, her. Like a permanent limp, or those scars on my face that, being scars, will never be erased.
My brother called this weekend to tell me that she had finally died. We had been watching her for months sink even deeper into her living coma, not leaving her bed, much less her apartment. And now the people who gave her round-the-clock care that we paid for, said she sunk dead.
I can't cry, Willy.
I had done all my crying growing up. I had done all my crying for the past 54 years. I am cried out.
And I can't cry.