Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A Letter From A Dead Woman

It's been way too long since I have posted anything. My manic life is getting the better of me. I need to have more balance and write more. I feel like I'm in the desert. Here is my attempt to get back. This story needs work but it's a start:

To Whomever Finds This,

I think I should start by telling you a bit about myself. My name is Willow Carter. Yes I am victim of a hippy single mother. I never met my father but I have been informed he was an older man and was as my mother described it, an inappropriate relationship. Sorry. I’m getting a little sidetracked. It is taking a lot to write this and a long time for me to be able to, but I knew that I couldn’t move on without leaving something behind. I will try to be as unbiased as possible. So I guess I had better start from the beginning. Oh wait, before that I should mention an important piece of information, in fact it is the most important part of this. I died.

Growing up with a hippy mother (she re-named herself Star) it was difficult to rebel. The only way I could rebel was to be responsible and basically the mother. I did the cooking and cleaning, paid the bills and worked hard even before I was old enough to leave school. It sounds so boring but I had to be. I guess that’s why at 26 I felt so old. I had a house, a steady job as a P.A. to the Managing Director of a recruitment company, a fiancée and still made sure my mother’s bills were paid. I was old before my time. My heart was wearing and wrinkled from the passing years that happened in a blink. I had worn out my heart and shelved my dreams. Dust settled and I felt lost. That’s when I decided I had had enough. I was through with this life. I decided to create a new life. I pulled my suitcase off the top of the wardrobe and began to pile my clothes in as if Jason my fiancée was about to walk in at any moment. Once I had emptied the contents of the wardrobe I looked at what was left. Jason had only a couple of suits and a few shirts. The rest was scruffy well-worn jeans and t-shirts that were in his draws on the other side of the room. I had taken over the wardrobe. I had taken over Jason’s life. I moved myself into his heart and his home and he loved it. Could I really radically alter his life and then walk out and leave him with nothing but two suits and a few shirts hanging in an antique wardrobe? I began to cry at the feeling of being torn and I hurriedly put everything back into the wardrobe then shoved the suitcase back on top. Looking at my watch I realised I was late for work. It didn’t seem to matter when I was running away but now. I picked up my briefcase, keys and mobile and dashed for the door. Just as my feet reached the bottom of the stairs the phone rang. I lingered for a second and then headed to the door. As I opened it I looked back at the phone all lit up and ringing loudly. I went over and picked up the phone.

“Honey. I’m so glad I caught you.” My mother’s shaky voice was familiar to me.
“What now? I’m late for work.” My annoyance was far from hidden to her but I had been playing this game since I was 9.

Some hippy mothers just loved tie-dyed clothes, free love and no rules for their children. My hippy mother loved all those things but loved alcohol more. She had been drinking for as long as I can remember, but she was bad from when I was about 9. Or maybe I just remember it more from that age. The first time it was obvious to me was when I was at my first sleep over. My mother would have let me go years before but being a shy and fearful child I didn’t feel confident enough till then. I had been there for about 4 hours when a game of truth or dare had begun. They asked me who I fancied in the school. I couldn’t bring myself to answer because it happened to be the girl’s older brother whose house we were staying in. They said if I didn’t answer my dare would be to run around the garden naked. Pack mentality had kicked in and I felt under pressure so I lied. I said I fancied Paul Rudder. Now Paul was, as I then would have described him as, a freak, but in actual fact he was more like a dreamer. His head was always in books and I think I heard it paid off, as now he is a writer who drives a Bentley. At the time though he was the first name that popped into my head and probably the worst. They all started to make fun of me. After an hour of it I was on the verge of tears and desperate to leave. I phoned my mother to come and get me but she was drunk. I was crying at this point. So I just left. I was a mile down the road when I saw my mum’s car. I was so happy and she pulled over to let me in. It was a big mistake. She could hardly see and kept babbling about how she was going to stop drinking and that life would be great and she was going to make me brownies when I got home. Why did she only talk about quitting drinking when she was drunk? Anyway, after swerving in and out of the other lane for most of the journey we were 5 minutes from home. I remember feeling relieved and then she turned left onto a one-way street. That moment would change everything. She started to scream when she saw all the cars bearing down on her then she let go of the wheel. I grabbed the steering wheel and we veered off to the right and ploughed into a fence. Thankfully we were not too bad and no-one else was injured but my mum damaged her back. Not enough to stop her from doing what she wanted but just enough to not have to work. Her drinking became known as taking her medicine and I was given a heavy helping of guilt ever since. It ensured that when my mother called I had to answer.

“Don’t be like that honey. My back is really playing up today. I need you to pick me up some shopping and I’m short some medicine.”
“I cant. I will pick it up after work and drop it round.”
“Thanks honey. Could you at least drop me some medicine round now? The pain is so bad and I could really do with it being eased.”
“I can’t and you shouldn’t be drinking anyway.”
“This week has been tough and I just need to get me over the hump.”

I knew that buying her booze was not helping but if I didn’t she would start drinking what was in her house like cough medicine and I was afraid she would end up drinking cleaning fluid. The thought of maybe just letting her crossed my mind but I couldn’t. As I dashed out the door I made a quick call to the office to my boss to explain I will be a little late. Of course I didn’t say I was enabling my mother’s alcoholism, I can’t remember now but I think it was something like my alarm didn’t go off. I hopped in my car and nipped to the local shop. You think I would be used to it but I was so embarrassed buying vodka at 8:30am. I went to my mother’s house and she was waiting by the door. Before I had even gotten out of the car she was by my window knocking on the glass while shaking. Her eyes were so sunken and dark that she looked like she was already dead. I rolled down the window and handed her the bottle. Without a word she unscrewed it and chugged. The strong smell stung my nostrils and I could only imagine what it was doing to what was left of her liver. Her poor organs were drowning in vodka. She came up for air, wiped her mouth on the back of her filthy dressing gown and smiled.

“Thanks love. That has really helped. This will be my last bottle of medicine. I’m quitting after this. How about you come over for tea tomorrow and I will cook? You should bring that fella of yours, Justin.”
“His name is Jason. Maybe. We’ll see.” Yeah right. She has never cooked me a meal and she wont start tomorrow.

I rolled up the window and drove off leaving her to walk inside clutching her bottle like it was a newborn baby. The whole way to work I was livid that once again I was put in that position and why she could never be a normal mother. Away with my thoughts I was on autopilot. I never noticed that I turned right when I should have turned left. The sound of horns honking woke me from my thoughts and I realised I was the wrong way on a one-way street and cars were bearing down on me. I panicked and swerved to the right. Just before I slammed into the fence I was furious with myself as I said, “Not like my mother”.

From this point I’m not entirely sure what happened. I can tell you what I remember but officially they tell me that the ambulance got to me quickly and worked on me at the scene. They say I died for approximately 6 minutes but then I came back (my words, not theirs). They sent me to hospital where I underwent nearly a year of successful but very painful physical therapy to get me to this point. My version however is very different.

I lay on the side of the road aware that the paramedics were working on me and very aware that this man was unbuttoning my blouse. It’s strange really. I knew I was dying but the fact that a man was unbuttoning my blouse to see the wound bothered me. Not for long though. It felt like darkness was closing in on me. Not in a visual way but in the feeling of being claustrophobic. I could hear this noise in my ears like a combination of nails on a calk board and the muffled sounds you hear when you are under water. It was so uncomfortable and the pain in my left hand, left leg and chest didn’t seam so painful anymore. I knew I was dying. It felt like I was being ripped at the seams. Then it didn’t hurt anymore. There was no sound and I felt like I was floating. I’m not a religious person, I didn’t see a white light, there was no loved one to meet me, and I didn’t hear a voice beckoning me. I just knew I was dead and I had a choice. Let this be it or return. I did entertain the thought of letting go, even though I didn’t know if there was anything to grab hold of on the other side. I hated this merry dance I had lived and even thought I was considered young I was weary. I was ready to rest. I guess it is for selfish reasons I wanted to go and for selfish reasons I wanted to stay. I wish I could say that the love of Jason is what brought me back, but honestly I didn’t think about him. I guess I figured he would be all right, at least I hadn’t run out on him. What brought me back was something my mother had said. When I was 15. It had all been too much and my mother had tried to commit suicide but I had found her. I rang the ambulance. When they arrived she had managed to consume a couple hundred pills and a full bottle of vodka with a gin bottle chaser. When she saw them and right before she blacked out she said she should have drowned me as a baby, she knew that my life would never mean anything. I guess the real reason I came back was I didn’t want to prove her right. I wanted to get to the end of my life knowing it had meant something. Not just to my fiancée, but to me.

I know it sounds very dramatic and I don’t know if it is real or if that was a dream I had when in the hospital. To be honest it’s irrelevant. I wish I could tell you that two years on my life is amazing. That it has all been different. That I skip through fields of flowers, that I have found a job I love, and that my mother stopped drinking. I can’t. I’m actually writing this before I go and put on a black suit to attend my mother’s funeral. Her organs waited patiently for a life raft that never came. They couldn’t hang on. Honestly I’m a little relieved. I know it sounds bad but I am. So what has changed? I suppose my attitude for one. I am not an old woman trapped in a young woman’s body. I am a woman who was trapped trying to find my way out of the maze. At least I’m trying. I get married in a month, finally. We have only been engaged for 4 years. The most important piece of information is…
… I’m pregnant. I just did the test. Don’t worry I washed my hands. I haven’t told Jason yet. I don’t think my mother’s funeral is the best time. At least I don’t have to buy him a wedding gift now. All I do know is that I want things to be different for my child. I want to be different. I know that none of this will touch my child’s life. All they will know is love, home cooked meals and I will always pick them up and drive them home safely when a sleepover has gone wrong. I will be leaving this letter in the grave with my mother. If you find it I hope that you are living the life you always wanted. I am laying to rest the old me and instead I’m picking up hope for the future. Something I’ve never had till now.

Live life well.

-- Post From My iPhone

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