My mother hides in a dark room at the end of a long hall. She hides behind a walnut door with a golden brass knob. Under manufactured sheets and soft down. The horizontal blinds are pulled tight, telling the daylight to keep away. The room is sealed but still has a brown haze from the sun fighting against the blinds, catching the dust as it travels through the atmosphere. She hides in this room with necklaces draped about the walls and closets crammed full of clothing that hide bodies. She’s buried beneath jewelry boxes and perfume bottles. The scent of vanilla gives her away.
She’s tucked into the far end of the bed, furthest from the door, furthest from reach. There she lies, staring at a small television screen. Her eyes are open but she’s sleeping. Her eyes are open but she’s shut. Like the walnut door with the golden brass knob. She’s hiding in Mary’s medicine cabinet, while I converse with ivory and dance with a soft, white kitten. She hides from little feet pattering down the hall and apple trees in the back yard. She hides behind soup bowls. Spoonful after spoonful she hides as her daughter feeds her. Her eyes do not look up to meet mine. Not once.
She hides in rehabilitation centers, counseling meetings and group sessions. And still, she hides behind dark rooms and tiny television sets, daytime T.V. and mascara. She hides behind beaded necklaces, sterling silver, curling irons, aerosols, caravans and pill bottles. She’s hiding from her children, hiding from her husband and his congregation. She’s hiding from herself.
We would run after her but she’s too far away, too far to the Borderline. Our tiny legs are not strong enough to fight against the mountains of sinking sand and stranded empty bottles. We would run after her but all we know is the blue in our eyes, the scent of vanilla and the soft shimmer of silver. We would seek her out, some of us, but we have no map, no directions, no way. We would run after her but she doesn’t want to be found, she doesn’t want to be “fixed” or put back together again. Not yet. We would run after her but she has to find herself first, rehabilitate herself, love herself.
So we wait. We wait. We wait over the mountains and into the swamplands, back to the evergreen. We wait for phone calls and rides home. We wait through boyfriends, dirty cigarettes, run away marriages, alcohol, late night partying, screaming, fighting, gnashing of rotted teeth and long fingernails scrapping the sidewalk. We wait. We wait for years. Some of us give up.
But slowly…we begin to see the glimmer of her iris and the blue marble surrounding. We begin to see the flicks of red in her thin hair and the rosy hue of her pink skin. We begin to see two legs, standing strong after the rubble clears. We begin to see tears transfer to smiles and hear the soft sound of laughter. We begin to see holidays, dinners and stories. Some of us still don’t like to be hugged too tightly but now we have a mother, standing before us, laughing on the other line. We begin to say the word “family.” Family. Something hiding. Something we didn’t know we wanted until it had been found. Family.
She has pulled the sheets from over her body, arisen from her dark dusk-clung catacomb, hung up her toes shoes and stepped into the daylight. She begins to run. Her body still fights her but she runs. She is running towards her children. Running toward herself. She no longer hides.