My birth mother's mother, she, almost single-handedly, was the physical force that set the course of my life. I hated her. I loved her.
The wicked witch is dead.
Though, to me, she was dead a few years ago. When she couldn't manage to even call me when my father passed. The man who took me in and raised me after she made her daughter give me away.
An act of cowardice I may never forgive.
When she found it necessary to scowl at my dreadlocks and earrings as I stood in my childhood kitchen just days before I put my father in the ground.
A cutting judgment I will never forget.
Right then and there, I wanted to put her out of her misery. I buried her on the spot.
I named her England. For she colonized and oppressed generations of her offspring. Put darkness in places where there ought to be light.
I loved her. After all, she was somebody's grandmother. Somebody's mother.
Eight years ago, I met all those somebodies and grew to love them as much as I could love a set of strangers who shared my DNA. I saw me in them. Them in me. And yet--
I hated her.
Two days ago, after having both her legs cut off above the knee, one at a time with time in between, she gave up the ghost.
(Birth mother's will often tell you that surrendering a child to adoption is like losing a limb.)
Now that she's really dead, I'm struggling with my voice--literally. Spiritually. Psychically. Metaphysically.
The physical force that set the course of my life has left this world.
I knew this day would come. I knew this day would be challenging. I had no idea it would be like this. Can't sleep. Can hardly talk. Laryngitis. Wheezing most of the time. Asthma. Equilibrium shaken by an ear infection.
Poetry, I suppose, that while in foster care, according to my adoption file, an ear infection was the first illness in the opening verse of my life. Afraid, I dare say, to get on a plane to go to her funeral for fear it will be the last. Frightened by the real prospect I would let explode 42 years of rage right in the middle of her church.
Nope. I had no idea it would be like this.
I pray for healing.
For all of those somebodies I met eight years ago. The mother who conceived me in winter and bore me in fall. The younger uncle who stayed with her the summer she went away in secret. The elder uncle who brought me unannounced to her doorstep in spring. The three sisters and four cousins and their eight children.
For my mother, the woman who took me in in spring and raised me when Elnora put me out. Who became her friend the moment they met. Who will miss their long telephone conversations. Who so desperately wanted me to forgive the woman who put darkness in places where there ought to have been light.
But you can't make your heart do something it won't.