Grief is the price we pay for love – Queen Elizabeth II
I flew before I could walk. Pity my mother who couldn’t concentrate on a book as I brought back other strays as myself. Think of her as I cried and then screamed with all my might from my tiny lungs as I adjusted to the altitude. My mother with no clean clothes as I threw up all over her. She searched in vain for the cloth nappy that wasn’t there as she hadn’t foreseen by 3rd bout of diarrhea.
We were souls wandering the heavens.
She has an old Pan Am jigsaw of the Blue Mosque. Bought it several years ago on EBay when in a Pan Am memorabilia mode. Never put together; never even opened the box. She comes across those mini Hello Kitty perfumes, the ones found in the children’s section of Duty Free. Along with those Swatch watches that teach them how to tell the time. And a little bilingual booklet from Air France.
Her daughters’ voice comes to her at any moment
“It’s rain, my love. When water comes from the sky, it’s called rain,”
“Sky?” she said, pointing up
“Yes, water from the sky is rain,”
With both hands she salutes the heavens, head tilted back.
She is not deterred by the thunder that sounds and the lightning that flashes. She shouts back at it in her Hello Kitty wellies.
“Mummy, do you remember when I came from the sky?”
“No, I don’t. What do you mean?”
“It was very dark and then I came down but not like a slide. It was very hard Mummy,”
“Tell me more,”
“Afterwards, I fell down from the sky,”
“You are the girl that fell from the sky?”
Her daughter had always known her fate. She keeps on her bedside table a picture. Roberto must have taken it. The glass wall separating mother and child at the airport terminal. Their palms pressed together. They say that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones but what does she care? She will thrown them, splintering and cutting herself on the shards so she can get to her daughter. She crushes her so tight, her girl who came from the sky.
It was the last photo ever taken of her. In the land of limbo that she had subjected her to for the longest time. So much so that she hadn’t known the imaginary friend who followed them to each relocation wasn’t a figment of her imagination. It was her where she wanted to be, back home in Scotland. She had been disoriented and it never went away, this depaysement. It was culture shock but she, her own mother, had been too busy trying to deal with my own. But it’s okay, others told her, it’s normal. She will become resilient.
“What does resilient mean?” she asked one of them when she’d heard it enough times.
“Well, it’s…you know. It’s good to challenge children,”
“Am I challenging her by taking her away from all she knows and loves?”
I remember it well when it was time to leave. I thought it was when my hand was on the glass, her hand over mine, but it wasn’t then. It was when the plane seemed to go up high, stalled and then went down, down, down. The man next to me he began to pray but I closed my eyes. The only thing that did not feel good as my little soul swam, like a mermaid, to the top of the sea was I knew how much my mother would miss me. I knew because I knew how much she loved me.