Return to Sender

An old lady looks back on her life as she sits in my living room and tells me things no one else knows. She offers tinted stories and looks hard in my eyes to see if I suspect hers aren’t the only shades.

road town old town black white
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She doesn’t speak to her daughter, she says, because

the girl doesn’t love her,

won’t help with anything.

She wishes, in fact, she didn’t have kids.

It isn’t safe to answer, so I say nothing because she cries as she paints her life for me, and old woman tears are the saddest.

Then I hear from her daughter, the one who

never visits,

never calls.

And her side is black and blue (and then it’s my turn to cry).

How many mistakes do a mother and daughter get before they break what they borrowed?

Why can some patch up ragged holes, while others lie bleeding (but never quite dead)?

I want to return these stories, but they belong to me now.

So this morning I hug my teenaged daughter while she crunches cereal, and I try to send into her all the tender things I hope she’ll

remember–

and I pray for grace.