You were already on the phone

My mom collected abandoned turtle shells and sticks that reminded her of animals. She would squeal and point at flowers while driving. She generally really didn’t like to speak. She was hyper aware of synchronicity and it often felt like we had a psychic link with each other.

When I was growing up and feeling alone and ostracized at school, she would talk to me about how she felt the same way growing up in the same schools and how she only had one friend. And she would encourage me to keep being myself. Neither of my parents ever pushed me to mask who I am.

She would sit in the bathroom reading a book at night. Sometimes I would sit in there and we would pass a notebook back and forth, writing messages and playing little games with each other. A favorite was to list something for each letter of the alphabet for a certain category. These often were music related.

She didn’t understand completely my intense feeling of connection with Kurt Cobain’s words in middle school. She expressed a bit of concern over that. But she still encouraged it as she also saw it made me happy and helped me figure out where I stand in this world.

Both parents enjoyed learning new music from various artists and genres as I dove deep into buying sometimes random used tapes and CDs and reading music journalism. Both encouraged me as I began to make zines. My mamaw would often make sure I had postage.

We had a big debate in the house my senior year of high school. I was deeply torn between going to Salem College or Guilford College. I had felt a strong draw to Guilford already for several years, but I had really loved Salem on an overnight visit. My mom was adamant that I should go to Salem. My dad pushed this at first, but I kept explaining that I thought Guilford would give me something I needed that Salem couldn’t give me. Eventually they both encouraged my choice. They both really appreciated what Guilford stood for, and with my dad’s particular areas of focus reading history he felt a draw to it too I think.

My mom and mamaw would visit me at college once a week and give me $20 and snacks. Often these included a box of Little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies. This was amusing about halfway through college when I told my mom I had been smoking marijuana. She giggled and said, “I know. Why do you think I’ve kept bringing you those Cosmic Brownies?”

When I told my mom I’m bisexual she told me I could bring home a giraffe and she would love me and she would love the giraffe.

My mom was smart as hell, though most people noticed my dad’s kind of intelligence first. She had more integrity than most anyone I’ve ever known. She could be stubborn, and the last few years of her life stress turned her into a different person slowly. She had to face her parents’ descent into Alzheimer’s while dealing with my dad’s diagnosis of end-stage renal disease and my struggling after college with getting my life together. I could only find very part-time work and I wasn’t doing a very good job of following my happiness either. I was crumbling under the same stressors as she was, among other things.

Then right as I started to get my bearings amongst all the grief, she died very suddenly in August 2012.

It’s been enough years that I don’t have to bear much sharp pain anymore. Still though I think of where I’ve gotten to in myself since then, the love I’ve found and happiness within myself I’ve developed. And I wish I could call her and tell her things. She would love it.

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