The Ghost of Birthdays Past

My mother just had a birthday.
87.
She turned 87.
I am grateful; I am thrilled
to be celebrating
     dancing
     singing
     rejoicing
with her.

My family descended, en masse.
Hovering, wondering:
     How much longer?
     Will this be the last one?
     The last celebration?
     The last joyful joinder of us
           as a unit
           as the fingers of a hand?
(Minus one--my father, who art in heaven...or hell). 

I love when we are together.
I loathe when we are together.
I am drained when we are together.
I am insane when we are together.

There is too much
     too much to remember
     too much to forget
     too much pain
     too much rage
     too much misplaced
         displaced
emotion.

I don't breathe when we are together.
I seethe when we are together.
Mood shifting like the breeze
     flitting between love and loathing
     resentment and resonance
     acceptance and antipathy.

None of it having to do with the
here and now
but with the ghost
     of birthdays past
     celebrations past
the past of profound pain
of unceasing struggle
of hurt combined with love
     combined with rage
     combined with laughter
     combined with revolt
     combined with longing.

Place all ingredients in bowl and blend
Bake at 350 for 50 years
let cool
before icing.

Come back to the here and now.
After a few days of celebration
and surliness
     (on my part only)
the skies lightened
     (and darkened)
as they flew off
went home
     to their lives
     of now
     not here.
Leaving me to struggle to find
     my here and now
     my there and then
     my where and when.

I am breathing
I am relieved
I am sad
I am lost
I am found.

About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Medford, MA, part time with my 11 year-old daughter and full time with our dog, Toast, and our cats, Samson and Hercules.
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