A good memoir starts at the beginning.
This one starts at the end. I guess that’s your warning. Get out now while you can, while the story is bright and hopeful and you see me walking off into the sunset. It’s only going to get darker from here.
It is a few days before my sister’s wedding. I am at home, an ocean away, while my family gathers to celebrate. And I am ok.
Sure it’s hard. There will be pictures, and all the siblings will gather together. Nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins. Bubby will be missing, and it will hurt, but not as much as Hudis. Lumps in throats, welling eyes, maybe a sigh or two as the photographer arranges the shots and calls out to smile.
Now, look at the bride.
Now everyone look at Mommy.
Alright, now squeeze together…
And I imagine the swelling anxiety and the falling faces, and I scream through the future towards my sisters.
Go! Take a break. You don’t have to do this.
But no one hears me. I am the one who didn’t show up, couldn’t swallow the pain, and makes everyone uncomfortable. I am the one who didn’t die, and I am not missed. You don’t miss the one you never wanted anyway.
My heart is pounding, and I am telling myself that I am ok because I am.
I chose to be here. I am living in the aftermath of an entire story, where the book ends and the protagonist gets the happily ever after with loose ends tied up and a nice forward written by that one person who always knew they would make it.
Life goes on when the story ends, but the story seeps into every aspect of life.
I am happy and in love. I am strong and confident and a good parent. I know how to mother, despite having never been mothered. I know how to love and how to give and how to be present and how to care. I am made of the stories you will read. I am built on the wreckage of my foundation. I am worthy.
At the end of every book, forgotten pages of the appendix list the words forever etched inside.
Trauma, neglect, loss, pain, hurt…
I am living in my story, writing new chapters, experiencing new moments, pulling myself up by my happily ever after, and I am ok. I have read the appendix. I know I am living in lingering trauma, the aftershocks getting weaker as time progresses. I am ok so long as I avoid triggers.
Here I am, living in my epilogue, avoiding triggers and building a future.
This is a life worth waiting for, a life worth hurting for. This is the life I never thought I’d get. Mom, Dad, two kids, and a pet. We grabbed privilege by the throat and squeezed out the morsels we earned through our spilled blood. We spoon-feed it to our children and walk into the sunset, stomping out the overgrown weeds of our past while we keep moving forward, adding colors to the final pages of this storybook life.
I am in the here and now, and it is ok. There are moments where I am great and moments where I am a little blah, but my baseline is the boring neutral of an average life. And so it feels odd to be peeling back the layers now. What am I trying to uncover?
I think I know.
Every once in a while, I get a call.
I have a girl…
There’s this boy who needs a home…
Are you taking anyone?
And I say no, not right now. I’m not in a place where I can do that.
I think this place where I feel ok is not my forever. I think I have to wrap it up and get off the middle ground so I can start dreaming.
Because somewhere along the journey, a dream formed.
It’s a house—no, a home—and mine. It is safe because I have built it. It is warm and loving, and understanding. There is room here for my family and me, and we can breathe. And every inch of space expands, embracing the broken people waiting for me to jump off this ok cliff so I can finally say yes.