When I was probably seven or eight, Lily and I, under the supervision of our parents, swam in this small pond that had a swing right off a small hill. We’d take turns swinging and letting go, falling into the cool water. I was afraid the first time, expecting the rope to snap before I reached the deep part, landing instead on the rocks. But my mother gently swayed me, still on the hill and, as I clutched the rough rope even tighter, told me it would be the closest I got to flying without becoming an angel, without changing. At that, I let her arms envelope me and she let me go. A few months later, Delaney was born and our mother completely changed a few days afterwards, forever falling and failing her arms instead of safely landing in the water like she was supposed to.
My mother nearly committed suicide, I do not have that many happy memories of her anymore, and I was so young. It happened a few days after Delaney was born, when I was at camp, where no one told me. Even when I came back, all I knew was that my mother went to visit her mother. A few days passed, and I started to wonder when she would come back, but no one said anything so I took it as a silent warning to never ask. I did hope that when she came back, she would smile more like she used to when I was very young. Lily once told me she remembered a time before I was born, when she always smiled. She did come back, but she no longer smiled.
Is it possible to love and hate a person at the same time? Such extreme opposites, you might say but, as multi-layered people are, I believe it’s entirely possible. We love the outer layers, what people show us, what we think we know. But once we start peeling away the layers we see, we start to shed tears at what we see, just as an onion makes us weep. How easy it is to love and hate is such a frightening thing. Just as I love my mother for bringing me into this world, and as I hate her for leaving me alone in this world before I was truly old enough to know her. Why would I hate my mother for leaving me? That was what forced me away from the life I had only known. My father used to tell me she was visiting her parents when she had one of her bad days. I always patiently waited for her to come back, but she didn’t. Maybe it was because she did not want me.