I’m Afraid I Won’t Cry When My Mom Dies

Cherry Laithang

My mom feels like she’s dying. She’s lost 50 pounds in less than a year without changing anything about her diet or lifestyle. Her teeth keep breaking. She likes to stand in doorways, staring at nothing and talk about how she just doesn’t have anything left in her anymore. I can tell she’s scared, and I can’t relate because I’m not afraid of dying, and if there truly is so little left for her in this world shouldn’t the end feel at least somewhat peaceful or relieving?

My mom started emotionally abusing me when I was a teenager. It seemed that as soon as I reached the age where I could be held accountable for things, I was suddenly to blame for every hardship of her life. And in a way I know I ruined life for her. She’s told me the story multiple times. “I was done having kids,” “I wasn’t in love with him,” “I was never going to stay with him,” “The doctor promised me he was sterile”. But he could, in fact, sire one single offspring. The little girl that looked just like my mom that he had begged for. And she had me, because unlike my siblings’ fathers mine didn’t have a drug problem and unlike the others mine wanted to stay and take care of her and her four other kids. And because she had me she was stuck with him, and despite his redeeming qualities he has just as many unredeeming ones. Like his jealously too the point of back lash and his spiteful I-hope-bad-shit-happens-to-you conditional love. And even though she broke up with him she has been forever hindered by his looming presence in her life on account of the fact that I exist.

So on the one account I can take the blame. I imagine how much more opportunity my mother would have had to be happy if she didn’t have to worry about my dad sugaring her gas tank or having a bruja put a curse on her. Maybe if she hadn’t had to to carry, nurse and lug around one more kid her body wouldn’t have broken down the way it has. Maybe if her life had come a little bit closer to whatever dreams she had had, she wouldn’t be bitter like she is now. She wouldn’t believe that the whole world owes her something. And she wouldn’t feel like shes dying.

I’m afraid that when it happens that I’ll be the one that finds her. It’s not unlikely since just the two of us live together and if she’s right about how she’s withering away, it’s almost certain to happen at home. I’m afraid because If you find your dead mothers body and you don’t cry, are you suspected of something? I’ve always done everything my mom told me to. I have been quiet, obedient and yielding. I’ve sacrificed my emotional and physical well being to meet her needs for all of the years of my life. And even now, as weak as she is and when it’s more obvious than ever that she needs me, my mom doesn’t like me. I can feel that shit like it’s sewn into the lining of my soul. Despite being everything she asked for, and doing my best to be as unburdensome as a confirmed burden can be, I am a disappointment. She would rather I’d been a rebel like my sister, a hustler like my oldest brother or a fighter like the others. They break her heart, you can see it on her face and hear it in her voice when she talks about them. She feels so much for all of them. I irritate her, and it’s obvious whether she’s talking to me or about me to someone else, any amount of admiration is the kind that is obligated by blood.

I can’t even feel anything when I embrace her anymore. At some point I realized that wanted or not, I was born for the purpose or serving. I brought comfort to her all these years if nothing else, because she knew no matter what that she had me. I hugged my mom not ten minutes before sitting down to write this, and it was like I was holding a stranger and trying to make it look real. Theres no connection between us anymore, I can’t even comfort her. I don’t feel any empathy for my poor and possibly dying mother. Maybe if anything, I’ll cry at the liberating realization that I’ve lost physically someone that I’ve been detached from emotionally for a decade. And then I’ll dry it up and figure out how to make rent without her. TC mark

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