True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment.
~ David Ridge
It had been a typical morning. She flipped on the basement light – a single 80-watt bulb with no shade, suspended from the ceiling above my bed – to wake me up. Instinctively I rolled over and buried my face in my drool-encrusted pillow, mumbling under my breath and exhausted from closing up the Golden Arches. Time spun by swiftly, as it is wont to do, even when you’re young and in no particular hurry, and by the time I reluctantly drug my carcass out of bed there were precious few ticks remaining before first period began. By that point, Doctora Peliaz could simply no longer let stand another tardy from the only senior in the class, and her cackled cry of ¡Ay Díos mio, Brian! haunted every moment leading up to the bell.
My mood hovered near the severe-to-moderate tempestuous end of the spectrum.
Not that her morning had been all peaches and cream, mind you. Getting up earlier than everyone else only to slave away at the stove and withstand the glares and silent rudeness of the somnambulists in the house tends to rend gaping perforations in ones already-thin patience.
All par for the course, you mind say. No different from six out of ten households on any particular weekday morning. But that morning, something sinister lingered in the air. Perhaps lines of opposing pressure had crossed. And neither wanted to budge. The perfect storm. No shimmer of light – of forbearing joviality, at best, or eyes-to-the-floor, don’t-rock-the-boat tolerance, at worst – lit up the horizon. Only clouds and more roiling clouds. And upon the foam sailed two vessels, headed for a mid-sea collision of oceanic proportions.
Words spoken. Rather, sounds erupted. Harsh and violent. Items upended from their moorings and tossed about. And, with a shattering finality, doors slammed. No closing statements. Only parting shots.
At first, I fumed. She doesn’t understand. Never will. She’s not my real mom anyway, so fuck her. Dark reasoning. Bitter justifying. The stuff of which legends are made. And then, about the time I hit the Calumet Expressway, my softer side prevailed.
Doctora Peliaz would just have to yell.
I saw her staring out the kitchen window as I pulled into the drive. We met at the door – she almost ran me over – and we embraced. I wore her tears and her sweet smell on my shoulder for the balance of the day. I might have even smiled a time or two.
Do we love our moms because we are such immature people? So unrelenting in our desire to be doted over despite our often-unconscious efforts to push those we love – and who love us in return – away? Is it because at the end (or the beginning) of the day they are the only ones who take us back?
She still gets up early. Still slaves over the stove and withstands those sullen stares. Storms still materialize out of thinning air. And she still stands at the window . . . waiting.