Parents never think that they will bury their children. They raise them with plans and aspirations and try to leave a legacy so when it’s the parent that leaves their children are OK. A bond is automatically formed doesn’t make a difference it’s a bond that only a mother will experience and understand.
The day that my sister Gladys died is something I will never forget. It is a visual file that never deletes. Available whenever my brain chooses me to relive it. It is one that becomes so vivid that the sight and sounds attached to it is surreal. I was 16 and Gladys was 26. She had a huge fight with cancer that within a year had made her look like a walking corpse resembling the pictures I see from victims of the Holocaust. During that year mommy would never let up. She stood by Gladys’ side every single day. As her health got her into a hospital for her last days mommy never once missed a day of traveling to the Bronx from Brooklyn after a 8 hour shift just to be by her side.
You see mommy had lost a daughter before all this. She had a daughter that was severely autistic where parts of her body would just stop operating. When my little sister passed away when she was 7. It was at that age that her heart gave up. It was mommy that found her. That first death had to have affected her in ways only imaginable. Yet she continued to live on. I wasn’t born yet when her first daughter, my sister passed away and she had my 2 older siblings. Mommy kept on. She worked and she kept on. Her little uneducated self alone with no one to stand by her and help her understand. I can only imagine her beef with GOD when she found out that her only daughter that she had a special bond with was dying in front of her eyes. I was a teen and I remember it all. The tiredness mom went through. The way she would submerge herself in her job. The hope disappearing from her eyes more and more each day.
It was feb 4th 1984 when the phone call came. Mommy and I the day before had gone to the hospital and I knew she was going to die. Everything about that day was a premonition. Each moment solidifying what was to come. The only person Gladys recognized was my mother. At this point Gladys could only grunt. Speech wasn’t available to her. Mommy sang to her, hugged her and gave her a can of Pepsi. We didn’t stay too long. Silence was palpable going home. The next day the phone call came announcing what mommy and I had known on our way home that day. The wail that mommy let go till this day not only makes me cry but gives me shivers. That wail shook heaven. It chilled and stopped time right there. No matter how much she knew it was going to happen Gladys’ death made her relive her first daughters death. It was as if both of the sisters finally united and mommy was hit with their reunion in wreckage and pain. That wailing let me know my mother would never be the same after that. I knew even at my young age that she died with them. The immediate grief would take years before she was almost back to normal. Till this day it still has affects that linger. Every birthday of what could’ve been and every anniversary serve as a fresh reminder. The peeling of a huge wound that will never fully heal.
It will take me years to understand this grief. The depth of how it has affected me will bring me into a journey of my own that has tested my heart in trust, in loyalty, in pain and above all in missing a piece of me that in all honesty has served as a blueprint for many different types of relationships I have had and need to have.
As for mommy she is still a survivor. Her pain and the absence of her daughters have hardened her. They have made her at times unreachable. It changed her method of how she loved her children. Not that she ever didn’t love us because her hustle let me know she still loved her children but it kept her distant. She was also ready to die and not dying anytime soon after was a beef that her and GOD have put on hold till she meets him!