When I was twelve years old my mother took her own life. It was sudden, as death usually is, and shocking. After some time the events started to make more sense. I was told that she had been bipolar and had suffered from severe depression. After that, things started to make more sense. That time she laughed with me and then slammed the door in my face or the way she would shut herself away in her room and say morbid things suddenly made sense. This knowledge allowed me to forgive her for being rotten to me on more than one occasion as a child.
About a year after her death I was sitting in my eighth grade English classroom. We were taking the writing assessment that day. I think I remember tying the prompt to her death some how and it made my heart bleed all over again, but in the midst of a proctored exam like that there is a protocol. You aren’t really allowed to get up and leave the room to go cry or take a breath of fresh air, so I sat. I finished the essay early and folded my hands as I prepared to wait for the cessation of the exam. Suddenly, inspiration struck. Since my teacher would have had a fit or I might have been cited for cheating somehow, I wrote out a poem on my desk with my eraser. It could only be read in the glare of the ceiling if you leaned just to the right of it so it was the perfect answer to the problem I had.
I remember writing furiously and finishing it quickly. I was done and had a chance to review it even before the test was over, but I remember it didn’t need editing (or so I thought). Only on rare occasions do writers have the pleasure of words falling on to the page in front of them quickly and easily as if it were a verse they’d memorized. This one has stuck with me every day since and is burned in my brain even though it was written ten years ago this month.
I never really showed anyone. I just quietly transferred it to paper when I had the chance and carried it home with me. I showed my parents and got a little smile of recognition but no accolades or praise. I remember sending it in to a writing competition about a week later. I received a letter saying they wanted to publish my poem and request $19.95 or so for a copy of the book. I showed this to my parents as well who told me the whole thing was a scam and they probably wouldn’t print it if I didn’t mail in the money.
So the poem that follows was written quickly and easily in a time of pain from the open heart of a thirteen year old girl. It is unremarkable and has never been recognized as anything of any worth but I love it. It reminds me of so much. I hope you enjoy.
A day not too long ago
There was a girl with many woes
She dealt with many grown-up things
But still she tried to follow her dreams
She cried at night but in the day
She hid her tears and went to play
Why did she cry, so you might ask?
Because her darling mother had passed
And yet, life continued on
No matter how hard it was
Her heart ached a little more each day
But she didn’t want to make them say
Don’t be sad, it will be okay
Because she knew it would