Mother's Day

I always wish for sixteen. I wish for sixteen because age sixteen was lost. It was the year that I forgot how to love when I needed to love...

I always wish for sixteen. I wish for sixteen because age sixteen was lost. It was the year that I forgot how to love when I needed to love the most. It was the year I decided not to love my mother.
At sixteen I thought I knew too much. I thought she thought too little of me. I was hurt and alone even though she hadn’t left me yet. I didn’t truly see myself at sixteen. I didn’t see how independent I was. I didn’t know that she didn’t baby me like my younger brother because I was doing for myself. I was independent but not mature. I was a kid at heart just wishing that I could understand everything.
Sixteen made me remember the sound of keys in the door. It gave me a grown-up heart. It killed a really big part of mine. Sixteen taught me to hate the smell of lilies. But sixteen also gave me hope. It gave me God. It gave me the strength to be a good mother. Because every time I think about the day my own mother left for work, when I was sixteen, I hear and smell and see these things.
I remember my mom walking into her bedroom as I sat at the foot of her bed. She was dressed for work, freshly showered with a soft, blush-colored cheek turned toward me for a kiss goodbye. I stared at the television and ignored her. She told me she loved me. I didn’t say it back. I was angry at her about a ring I still have on my finger, sixteen years later. She asked me earlier that week to pick out a present from a catalog, I chose a radio. She picked out a ring that said “Love”. When I opened it, I was so angry. I thanked her by ignoring her all week. She cried and told me, “I’m scared something might happen to me and this will be all you’ll have left when I’m gone.”
By the end of the week she was a phone call and a trip to the hospital. She was a body on a machine. She was a mother who never got to hear one last time that her daughter loved her. She gave me the same silence I gave her as life support kept her breathing.
If I could go back to age sixteen, I could run. I could make it to the door in time and tell her to wait. I could cry. I could tell her that this ring has been the only thing I’ve kept with me since that day. I’d be able to pass lilies in the grocery store and not have to remember that they smell like a funeral home. They smell like the worst thing I ever did in my life.
I didn’t forget to say it.
I did it on purpose.
I robbed someone of love.
At sixteen I was a thief. A vandal of the heart.
But if I could be sixteen again, I’d give it all back. And not ask for anything in return.

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