Part one of this story was published in edition 25 of The Torch on May 29, 2015.
She emailed me the next day expressing interest in meeting with me. I emailed back with the time and place. I chose a church. She had to meet me in a crowded sanctuary, a place of comfort for me.
We hugged an awkward hug and waited through the service until we could have an awkward talk. She invited me out to breakfast after the service, and we spent two hours catching up. She was composed and confident and said she had been clean and sober for a year and was getting her life on track.
She was working closely with a twelve-step program and some mentors. I told her about my life. She invited me to ask any questions I wanted, even if I was afraid it would be hard for her to answer. She said she would give me a truthful answer.
So, I went for the question I’d held in my heart my entire childhood. “Why didn’t you come for me?” She told me about her addictions, heroin, cocaine and alcohol and how they had messed up her mind and her motivations. She told me that my brother and I were always in her heart, but thinking of us was unbearable.
She always hoped that we were just better off without her. Maybe we were, but it wasn’t like we had an easy life. Our father suffered from addictions too, and when he was drunk or high he was abusive to my brother and me. There were holes in the wall where he punched, luckily missing my brother’s face.
I was once beaten all over my body with a screw driver for not putting a new roll of toilet paper on the dispenser after emptying the previous one. He couldn’t keep a job and slept all day. My brother and I took care of ourselves. This made us very close.
My mother and I met several more times and grew to enjoy each others’ company. She never felt like a mother to me, though. We were never mushy or emotional. She didn’t give me advice like the mother of a teenager usually might. She was more like a close acquaintance.
We didn’t have much in common. I was so badly burned by my parents’ addictions and lifestyles that I strove to be the opposite of them in every way. So, I was a goody-two-shoes Christian girl with places to go in life. I didn’t touch alcohol or anything else that could possibly be addicting for fear that I would follow their paths.
The story of my mother and me doesn’t end well. She succumbed to her addictions after ten years clean and sober. The first time I noticed she was drunk was at my first child’s first birthday party in 2008. After that she quickly deteriorated. Alcohol and methadone took her life at the age of 46.
During the time between our reunion and the time of her death, our relationship was up and down and everything in-between. For her ten years clean and sober, I am grateful. I got to know my mom for better or for worse. She stole hundreds of dollars from me right before my wedding and years later, when I was pregnant with my first child, she helped me clean my house once a week.
She left me with a better understanding of who I am, where I came from, where I am going and what mistakes to avoid along the way. My mother worked in several departments at LCC from about 1998 to 2008. They took her in and gave her a chance at a second life. She was so proud of her job and absolutely loved working at the college. If it wasn’t for that I might never have seen her again, and I would still be wondering if she was looking for me and if she wanted me.
Now, in 2015, I am the same age my mother was when she and I were first re-united. I am back at LCC working to finish my degree. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for the opportunity to attend college here and work toward my goals. Not a day goes by, too, that I do not think of my mother. The little girl in me wonders if she is proud of me.
I am proud of me.