Sixteen years ago I saw my biological mother for what I thought would be the last time. It was a conscious decision I made, and one I've frequently had to defend from “well-meaning” outsiders who didn’t know or even remotely understand the complexities of the relationship between us. Despite the barrage of opinions, I had made peace with the reality that the next time I saw her it would be in an overpriced pine box and I refused to abnegate that peace.
Now I sit the dark corner of a hospital room, as machines beep and tubes dot the landscape that is my mother’s body, and I find myself swimming in the gray matter that is our relationship and the conflict that my previous peace has now brought me to.
I had always assumed, foolishly, that her life would pass unnoticed by me and my children. I’ve worked hard to maintain and build relationships with people who exhibit the qualities I expect in parents and grandparents. Today, though, my children met the woman responsible for my existence. They looked upon the nearly lifeless vessel that housed me for nine months and said “hi” for the first time.
I can justify my decision to live my life as if she didn’t exist. I know exactly why I can’t bring myself to say “hi mom” and take her hand like my grandmother has asked me to do. And while I can, and have, climbed that decision mountain and offered myself up as a sacrifice to the unyielding pain that burns in my chest to prove that I fully support that decision. I can no longer say for certain that it was a good decision.
Yes, it was the right one for me. It is one I would make again. The possibility of what my life would have been if I had made a different choice fills me with more dread than the numbness from nearly two decades of estrangement.
Was my decision a good one? Is any decision ever good or bad? And by whose standards do we judge that?
People are always quick to pass judgment on the merit of our choices these judgments are usually based an individual's happiness in relation to the choice that was made.
What if our choices are neither good nor bad, but a pile of possible feelings that we reach into when it suits our needs?
There are at least half a dozen people who feel strongly that I made a bad choice. Be it my decision to keep the demon that is this relationship caged or to drive here and stare at the void between the two of us. On the flipside, there are at least half a dozen people who believe I’ve made a good choice either way.
Then there’s me. No longer the brash teenager, I'm now a bullheaded adult contemplating my own mortality and what it takes for any of us to be redeemed.
I don’t regret my decision. I don’t even know if I’m sad that my children met her under these circumstances. I’m living in the reality that decisions are neither good nor bad, but instead, they are life’s little purgatories where we wait for the shoe to drop.
And if we're lucky, we don't walk out of those purgatories with regret.
Rayven Holmes Copyright(c) 2018
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