It’s me. Your son. Your first born, your only born.
Our lives have a curious kind of mirror. I realize I know so little about you before I was born. I left home when I was almost 16. I realize you know little about me since then.
Mom. We don’t talk about things, do we? I mean, really talk. About the things just under the surface of our banal lives. Beyond the news and the weather and the tv and our day in day out. The British runs in our DNA. The things left unsaid are the things that often matter, but that’s not the done thing, right? That is not the way things are done. The hidden remains hidden.
We dance around the painful, the awkward, because that’s what should be done. It’s the British way.
You were born in a fractured marriage. Sent away oh-so-very young. Mom? You didn’t deserve it. You were not to blame. We haven’t talked about that. About your upbringing. Not really. We sketch in broad strokes and leave the fine detail blank. A neglectful mother. A father in and out of your lives, in and out of other women. You didn’t deserve it.
Raised with strangers, raised with others, raised apart and together and alone. I cannot imagine the turbulence and trials and tribulations of your young life. Did it somehow bleed into my DNA? Did the chill in your bones and sinew make me shiver in my teenage years?
Three years before me, you were abandoned. I am sorry, Mom. You. Didn’t. Deserve. It.
You had me so very young. So very unprepared. A bastard child….a product of an abhorrent act. A brutal vicious offence. I cannot…dare not imagine how such a careless, selfish clash of flesh and ugly masculine power and desire and brutality can create life….yet, I was born from this. A dark fleeting shadow in your past, a violence that left the scar of life in his wake. Justice was not served. He is a blank space in my life. A lack of. Not taken from me, not left me, simply a not-dad. And yet….and yet….he created me. I exist because of his brutality. I am genetically sourced, at least partly from him. This not-dad is somehow my dad. I cannot mourn for him, I cannot miss what I never had….and yet…..and yet….
You kept me, Mom. You turned a tragedy into a blessing. A curse, a living scar, a reminder of an offence, into a living, breathing soul. Did I do okay, Mom? Did I justify your right to a life? If I did, it was because of your sacrifise, Mom. An only child, and somehow, you raised me right. Somehow I am a moral, intelligent, thoughtful man. Fourty-four years of breath and life on this planet because of you.
Your independence runs through me Mom. I left home before I was 16. Travelled around. I have lived, loved, fucked up. I have grown up, we have grown apart. We see each other so rarely. I mark the time by phone calls, emails. I try my best to pay my respects by the passage of birthdays, mothers days, days of honor. We talk…but we don’t really talk…right?
After your struggles….I believe you have found a modicum of peace now. A home. A woman who loves you. A life partner. A quiet life. I think the fact we share so little is also a sign of a relative calm with you. With so few shadows that pass you these days, our talks fall into routine and banality, but in a way, that is a sign of happiness.
I sit here in the silence between keystrokes and hear my breath and feel each beat of my heart and the warmth of my skin and realize that it is possible because you made a choice all those years ago to bring me into being. To struggle and fight and change your entire life to protect another. You worked so very hard to make right the countless wrongs inflicted on you, to break the cycle of misery and to leave an impression on another that things don’t have to be that way, and people don’t have to be hard and cold and brutal and thoughtless, that life can mean something. And I guess I want to say thanks, Mom. I guess I want to say that I am glad I am here to type these things. I am your son, and I am grateful, and I love you.