I’ll never forget the day Mom announced to us that she was pregnant with you. But Mom being Mom did it in her own typical way. We were at the dinner table, and, as usual, dinner was a hot mess of arguments and fights. In the middle of this mayhem, Mom just shouted, “God Dammitt all of you! I’m pregnant! You understand that?! Pregnant! I hate you people! I should be dead!” The part that gave us pause was the pregnant part, the wanting to be dead and hating us, not so much as that was a frequent occurrence.
But Mom changed her tune when we were in a serious car accident while she was pregnant with you, and we nearly lost you. Thereafter, she referred to you as The Bonus Baby.
You were born the summer between 6th and 7th grade for me. It turned out to be a weird summer. Shortly after you were born, Mom and Dad were spending time at the hospital with Cate. To this day I don’t know why Cate was in the hospital. For most of the summer, Mom and Dad were largely MIA. I don’t remember why. Because of this a large portion of your care was turned over to me. I even moved your crib out into the living room so that it would easier to keep an eye on you.
You were such a joy of a baby to care for as you were not difficult or cranky. I was so lucky. Our siblings blamed me for your love of Madonna because the summer I cared for you Madonna released her True Blue album, and MTV could not play those music videos enough. The television was always on MTV, and you lived in the living room.
But then you grew up, and you grew up in our wretched home. Mom was still Mom with her fits of rage and frequent threats of suicide. One particular day, you were around 5 or 6, Mom was raging and yelling about dying. As usual we all just stared at her, and waited for it to end. All of a sudden you started climbing on her saying, “Mommy, I love you, I love you, I love you … .” As you said this you climbed into her lap, and started kissing her face. We all just wondered, “Where did this beautiful child come from?” You weren’t like the rest of us as you had a heart that seemed to be unaffected by the ugliness in that house.
All these years I’ve wanted to tell you that I’m so sorry about that day in 1992, when you were 7, and I came to visit all the way from Tacoma.
I had practiced with my therapist on setting boundaries with Mom. I was ready. I walked in that house, and, unsurprisingly, within 5 minutes of my visit Mom was raging at Timmy. She was doing her ferocious yelling and raging that I want no part of at all. When she gets that way I get that floaty feeling and just want to escape.
When she got this way with Timmy I told her that since things were hectic I would return the next day to visit as I preferred to visit when things were calmer. She didn’t like this, and started yelling at me to get back inside as I walked out. I just repeated myself, and started walking back to my in-laws house. Mom then got in the car, and started following me or chasing me, after all these years I’m not sure which it was. I do know she drove onto the sidewalk as she was following/chasing me. I wasn’t so sure of her intentions so I cut across backyards in our neighborhood to get away from her.
Mom then declared to the universe that she had one less daughter. She forbade family members to have contact with me, but oddly enough she brought the family to the airport when I was leaving. You guys weren’t allowed to hug me goodbye. It broke my heart to watch you standing there confused. Mom acknowledged me, and watched the rest of you as if she was testing y’all to see if any of you would defy her by showing me affection.
You stood there so confused, and my heart was breaking. Part of me was wishing you would come hug me, and the other part of me was trying to convey to you that it was okay that you chose her. I understood as you still had to live with her. I got to leave. You had to stay. I tried so hard to convey that I loved you no matter what. You never looked littler to me than that day in the airport.
Our relationship has never been the same since that day. It was a pivotal moment for us. It’s almost as if you’re still following that edict from her long ago in 1992. I understand Freddy Bear. I do. You stayed behind, and had to survive. I miss you, and I love you.
Your Big Sister,
(Photo credit: Torbein)