This story is by ROSEMARIE ABRAHAM and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
You let me grieve and I’ll let you live. I sobbed in my sleep. I had cried myself to sleep begging God for death only to open my eyes the next day realizing that when I asked to die; it was not honored. So I laid here, looking at the ceiling fan spinning. My eyes were drying out from staring at the blades and listening to the hum of them. The tears from yesterday had dried on my cheeks. The pitter-patter of the rain beating on the windowsill woke me up out of the trance I was in.
That sound of the rain on the windowpane is a real trigger for me. My mom and my grandma passed away when the sound of the rain beat on the windowsill. I know I cannot relax now that my anxiety is at an all-time high. I’ve been trying to isolate myself, so the way I feel doesn’t rub off on everyone else. I put on my favorite two-piece pajamas with the hole in the elbow and some fur-lined slippers. These pajamas are the ones that my grandma had given to me before she passed away. I wore them often. It was as if I locked her hugs up inside them. I also grabbed my fuzzy purple blanket with the big unicorn on it and headed towards the upstairs bedroom that was at the corner of the house.
Skipping steps, I was eager to get to the room where I could be free. There were no judgments in this room except for the ones I gave to myself. This room was a good size and its gigantic windows seemed to go from the floor up to the ceiling. Big, thick, long, dusty, crimson curtains hung from them, looking like something from medieval times. I tied them back with some gold rope I found in the old trunk in the room’s corner. There was no actual color in this room except for the curtains, and I preferred it that way. I would sit here in this room alone trying to find myself. I tried to heal the little girl within me that has kept me bound for so long. She is hurting; she is sad, and she feels alone.
I could sit in this room for days and isolate myself with my thoughts. I could let my thoughts bounce off these four white walls for hours. The adult on the outside was battling with the hurt two-year-old little girl on the inside. And lately, the little girl’s sadness had taken over. I wept for her on more than one occasion. When I cried for her, I cried for me. I sobbed for me because this burden is almost too much to bear for one person.
One day looking in the mirror I realized that we were the same. Looking at my sunken eyes, I saw a person struggling to hold on for the both of us. I wonder if anyone can see her as I can? I wonder if they can see her standing there shaking and holding her arms up like she wanted to be picked up? I knew the weight and the pain of the little girl was keeping me from fully living. It had stripped me from accepting the love of those around me.
My family wanted me to make their love enough to make me happy and to make me want to live. But, the little girl inside of me had taken over and decided she had enough and she didn’t want to be around anymore. She had overwhelmed my thoughts, and she made me believe that the surrounding love I didn’t deserve.
I kicked off my slippers and brought my unicorn blanket up to my neck. I sat down in the rocking chair. Pushing off with my toes, I would rock back and forth listening to the creaking of the chair. My grandma’s old rocking chair was in this room along with the distinct smell of mothballs, dust, and mold. But this chair and the smell of the old furniture would take me back to the time when everything made sense. My grandmother’s house had that same smell and I found comfort in it. The arms of the rocking chair had a lot of character. It looked like many hands and elbows had rested there. I took that chair and positioned the rocking chair just diagonally to the window. I did that so I could see the beam of light from the sun come in the window and hit the floor. I would stare at the dust traveling up and down the ray of light. There was no actual reason for it. I just found it fascinating.
I slowly shut my eyes and let my mind go back to when our mom died. I was two and everyone and everything around us seemed to stand still. The hurt little girl inside me never really had time to grieve because everyone around me took that time away. Death had come knocking in the middle of the night and stripped us of our security. The pain delivered to us tonight, well; it was that unwanted pain shoved in our hearts with reckless abandon. I was only two, but I could feel the sadness in the house. And even at two, I knew that my mom was no longer around. The kisses I looked for every day were suddenly gone. The storytime at night right before bed was also missed. I opened my eyes and just as the rocking chair had placed my feet on the floor again. I got on my knees and I laid my head in the chair closing my eyes again pretending it’s my grandma’s lap that I have placed my head in. Humming to myself, rocking, praying as she did. Singing her favorite song “His Grace and Mercy” always seemed to calm me down even if I didn’t know all the words.
I went from that to laying on the floor with my arms stretched out as far as they can go. Lord, I cried sobbing and praying I am tired can you help us both?. Can you heal me from the inside out, I cried and screamed from my belly? The room is quiet so my screams bounced off the walls back to my ears. Tears fill my eyes as I have touched again the pain of the little girl within me. I could hear my heartbeat when I stopped screaming. Tears pooled around my face as I lay here alone on the floor. But I don’t even try to wipe them just yet because I can’t move. This sorrow has weighed me down. I can hear movement downstairs and I wonder if my tears will seep through this floor and drip from the ceiling. I finally sat up, whispering to the little girl in me. I will let you grieve if you let me live.