‘Deep breaths,’ I think to myself, you can do this.’ Taking a wobbly step to the front of the hall, I repeat these words to myself. The warmth of a singular tear stretches down my face. As I reach the front, the photo of my smiling mother seems to pierce my every pore, reach deep inside me, and tear the shatters of my heart into even tinier pieces.
Everybody in this room knew and loved her – which, weirdly, seems to make it hurt more.
I turn. All eyes of my small family are on me. My uncle, who seems to be numb from the pain, my father, my little sister, who doesn’t even understand what’s happened, and the rest.
I clutch the paper in my cold, shaking hands – unready. Looking to my father for reassurance, I find my mind wandering back to that day…
It was a frosty morning in February,. I had been out the night before and came home in the early hours of the morning, still drunk. What seemed like not long after I crashed on the sofa, I was brutally woken from my serene state by the yelling of my mother’s voice. No words went in, but I knew what she said, as she had said it a million times before. That lecture about me coming in late and being irresponsible. I usually couldn’t care less. However, something stirred inside me this time. I was sick of her infallible nonsense, constant whining, and her just being a boring old woman. For the first time I raised my voice back at her. Screaming. Swearing. Yelling. Punching her with my words.
She looked stunned.
My heart dropped.
Instantly, I knew how much I had hurt her – the woman that gave me life. She said nothing, but turned, picked up her car keys and left the house.
That’s when it happened. The crash. When some stupid drunken driver went racing into the side of my helpless mother, contorting her petite body into the windscreen. My stomach twists at the thought of it.
The worst part is, the last words I said to her weren’t “I love you.“
Three days I spend by her bedside, hoping and praying on everything that she would be okay. That she’d make it through.
But here I am now, standing next to a wooden frame that supports the woman that just wanted me to be safe. Slowly, I open up the folded paper, readying myself to speak. The colour of the sheets seem to match the pallid faces staring my way in anticipation and sympathy.
I choke out a cough, look down at my handwriting (which now was blotchy from the ink running through water droplets) and speak.