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Cancer Revisited – By Mary Ann C. Palmer I. I was little, just five years old, alone in my bed, lying on my back with the covers pulled up to my chin; eyes wide open. The sharp scent of night seeped in through my bedroom window. I wanted my mother. But that was impossible. She had died a few months earlier and I was living with my Aunt Florie and Uncle Joe. My room filled with shadows. I couldn’t swallow; it was as if a hand was grabbing my neck. My heart raced, thumping hard against my back. My thoughts were shouting at me. Within minutes, I was swallowed whole by fear. I jumped out of bed and ran to Uncle Joe screaming. “You’re just having a bad dream,” he said. But I knew I was awake. I knew it. This scene repeated itself. I would learn later that I was having panic attacks. I practiced not crying over my mother. I
The Other Way Around – By Elizabeth Richardson Rau I am the mother of the kid you are probably afraid of. The one that you heard other kids used to buy pot from. Yours bought from him, too, yet you refuse to admit that, and I understand why. Pretend hope is much easier than unpleasant reality. I have never been the “not my kid” mom who would rather not know because the repercussions had not yet come home to roost. For a time, that was someone else’s problem. Until it became mine. Now you look the other way when you pass me on the street and whisper about me in the grocery checkout line. You are relieved it is not your kid who got into trouble the way mine did. You are sure it’s because you are a better mother; more involved and on top of things than me. These are the lies that mothers tell themselves right before the other shoe drops right in
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Womanhood – By Stephanie Andersen “It’s still snowing out there,” she said. Mom and I were tucked under her blue comforter on her bed late one afternoon, staring out the window into the backyard. The snow had settled on the pine branches, and the windows shook a little in the November wind. I pushed my head into the space between her arm and breast, tracing the hardness of the catheter buried under her skin. She was holding a tiny portrait of a young Victorian woman with big brown eyes, soft curly hair, and pursed lips. “This is how I imagine you’ll look when you grow up,” she told me. I stared at the face of the woman and tried to imagine myself as her. She seemed gentle, her hands folded neatly in her lap, her eyes shy and hopeful, her breasts round and high. I was only nine years old, and it was the first time in my life I ever seriously
Abuelita – By Krista Bremer Several years ago I spent a summer working in a crowded office in Delhi, India. Outside of the city’s rich enclaves, the electric system was overtaxed and unpredictable, and intermittently throughout the day our building would go dark. As our air-conditioning unit came grinding to a halt, my Indian co-workers would stop whatever they were doing and sink to the floor, surrendering to the awesome heat that rapidly engulfed the office. When power was restored—sometimes minutes, sometimes hours later—they’d slowly rise to their feet, rubbing their eyes. Years later, recovering at home from my second child’s birth in the middle of a sultry North Carolina summer, I was reminded of that summer in India: The hot, thick days blurred together, and my daily activities were constantly interrupted by my son’s insatiable hunger. When he needed to nurse, I collapsed into the nearest comfortable place, surrendering to his demands. Minutes or hours later, I peeled him off me