THE SPACE IN MY HEART
by Monica Hall
The familiar barking of neighborhood dogs and the
clinking sound of the narrow metal lid slapping shut
signaled that our mail had been delivered.
At once, I ruffled through the envelopes
rapidly discarding the junk mail.
“We really need a fireplace for all this crap” I griped.
A square-shaped card in a pale blue envelope
caught my eye.
“Mrs. E. Burns” appeared in the return address space.
At first glance, it was not a familiar name.
Upon opening, I discovered it was a sympathy card
from a kindly woman who went to our church.
You had been gone just two months.
Mrs. Burns wrote:
“There is a space created in your heart
when you lose your mother, that can never again be filled.”
I wept and kissed the card.
Thank you Mrs. Burns!
Finally someone who told the truth.
I wearied from all that “time will heal…..” bullshit.
I closed my eyes and thought back to climbing in bed with you,
I was 17 and still longed for the way you would reach over
and softly pat my back, once, twice… and I would drift off to sleep.
I thought too about the first time I saw you and dad dance together:
a wedding where mariachis played Jesusita en Chihuahua.
You and dad tearing it up on the wooden hall floor.
“What the hell?” I said to Rosalie. “Who knew?”
I remembered the time I attempted to make flour tortillas.
“How do you get them so round, mom?” I lamented.
I held mine up. “Mine looks like shit.” I grumbled.
“See, it’s not round at all- looks like a map of Africa”.
“Practice makes the preacher” you smiled with a mother’s grace.
Patience and prayer were your strengths.
With a daughter like me, they were a necessity.
Once when I was 16 you opened my bedroom door and spied me
sitting cross-legged on my bed rolling a doobie.
Like a coward I swiftly blamed a guy named Tim F.
But you shook your head saying only this:
“If your father knew about his it would kill him”.
You didn’t pitch a fuss, but I got the message.
I envision you cautioning me to be careful,
as I teetered about on my favorite platform boots.
Eighteen years old and nine months pregnant,
refusing to give up wearing my killer six inch heels.
You said a lifetime of rosaries.
Family. Friends. Strangers.
I didn’t’ matter. You took care of business.
I think about your last breath.
I was there.
October 12, 2003.
If I could only have you back for just one minute.
What would I say? What would I do?
I would say nothing.
Instead I would lie quietly,
And wait for the gentle pat on my back, once, twice…