On occasion, I still pick up the phone and dial my mama’s number, the number that was my own for eighteen years, with the hope, that she just might answer one day and this will have all just been a terrible nightmare. Thus far, I’m 0 for twenty – the operator annoyingly answers, reminding me “The number you have dialed has either been disconnected or is no longer in service.” I’d like to put that bitch out of service.
Since she never picks up the telephone anymore, I write to her. I promised her I would, just six days before her death. On my flight from JFK to Kansas City International, I wrote her a four page letter, which I read to her as soon as I arrived at 6154 Melrose Lane, the home that mama made. I’m not quite sure how much of it she actually retained being that the massive quantity of necessary morphine in her blood stream had her flying as high as a kite. But she lay there, squeezing my hand and smiling while I choked back tears between the sentences.
I’m not about to type out that entire letter – I’ll save that for another time, perhaps. I would like to share another letter, however, that I recently came across while aimlessly flipping through the pages of my journal…
I miss your heart of gold. That’s my current Facebook status. I’m also listening to Neil Young’s popular song. It makes me think of you. You should be here. We weren’t finished, mama. I know you fought so hard and I am so grateful. I hate what you went thru. You, of all people, did not deserve to endure such pain. My life feels so chaotic, mama. I need you in my life. It just feels so incomplete. My life, my self, my heart, my mind – my soul. On the outside, I look like I’m fine and put together and happy. On the inside, I literally ache, mama. I’m getting married soon. I think you saw something that you didn’t directly share. I think you finally approved of a man I brought home. I hope that that stays consistent and complete in my life. You were right – I do need him. Is it a healthy thing to need someone? I’ve gotta stop, mama. I fucking miss you more than anything. I love you.
Amazing how much can change in just over a year and by change, I mean the feeling of needing someone for my own happiness. My mother was right, though, when she openly expressed to me one evening, “I can’t help but think you’ve found *David because you’re gonna need someone once I’m gone.” These words hit me like a wrecking ball at the time. I try to imagine what my life would have been like without him during the darkest times I’ve ever experienced. I honestly can’t, though when I truly think about it, I was alone – a lot. His adolescent craving to stay out all night and party left me alone quite often. I thought I needed him, but in truth, I didn’t. I discounted my strength and how I had been capable of taking care of myself for years. My mama instilled this within me so when I lost her, I guess I falsely thought I lost that ability.
Don’t get me wrong. David was very good at distracting me, at making me focus on happier thoughts, calming me during my breakdowns and making me laugh – when he was around and when we weren’t fighting. And we fought – a lot. We’re both so passionate, I would tell myself only to realize I was actually just living in denial in order to make it through the reality of what had become of my life.
In the end, it’s so much more complex than the question of whether or not I needed David. As it stands, I believe I did find him for a reason be it as someone to hold my hand after I lost the most important person in my life and/or be it to teach me a lesson about the miracle of happiness being within one’s own heart. Too often, we, as human beings, spend our lives unhealthily searching for happiness within another person when we carry it within ourselves. Unfortunately, seeking happiness externally is like repeatedly dialing that number that’s long been disconnected. I thank God I’ve seized hold of the happiness within me, again, and I can only hope – there’s that optimistic word again – that David finds that happiness within himself sooner than later.
*The usage of certain names in this posting has deliberately been changed in order to respect the privacy of specific individuals.