My daughter says she listens to the sound of my feet shuffling each morning,
my slippers scuffing well-worn carpet as if on automatic pilot.
Even behind her closed door, she feels me move.
Years spent locked in joint struggle does that. Or it doesn’t. We were lucky.
This new life, the daily battle to make do with what we had,
to figure out how to make almost nothing stretch into something
was my doing. I summoned the rabbit hole.
At first, it was almost a game.
Pancakes for dinner and loud music blaring as we danced in the kitchen.
We relished this new place where the rules of yesterday no longer applied.
No more angry voices or fists making that hollow sound when they open holes in walls.
Bottles of beer no longer turned over on tabletops or stacked in corners.
No more demands that even she knew could never quite be satisfied.
We slipped into routines we created by chance.
Those days slipped into months and soon into years.
We still shared tears. She patted my back as I cried the time the bathtub was left running
and water poured from the ceiling. I can’t fix this I told her as it rained on our heads.
I can still hear her little voice whisper. It’s ok, Mommy.
These were words she’d often say as we climbed the mountains single mothers face.
Even when she lay still in that bed, exhausted, she’d whisper. It’s ok, Mommy.
Somehow it was and our new life slowly became the only one we knew.
She’s off to classes most days and working the others while I spend mine at my desk.
She says she wants to take a picture of me as I write. It’s the image she’s used to now.
I suppose this is the way she’ll remember me; author of a life we shared.