I looked over at Mama, as she bent down to pick up the spill my father had left, when he pushed his dinner plate off the table. The plate, was china from their wedding set, and it was the only plate left from the wedding, so many years before.
My mother's pursed lips, her eyes squeezed shut, and her wrinkled, knobby fingers, told me everything. I felt sympathy for her just then. It was too bad she had to go through all this, but I felt guilty that I didn't feel more. What kind of a daughter am I to stand and watch my mother pick up after yet another of my drunken father's tirades? How cold. How unfeeling.
I can hear her inner voice in my own. Her eyes misted, as she picked up the pieces of the ivory china, ringed by gold around the edge. How pretty it looked, long ago. How pretty Mother always looked, long ago, when I was small, and she'd take me out in the stroller, laughing and playing withe me. She was happy then. Before Dad started drinking.
Oh, he can't help it, she'd say, her voice quivering. A lousy excuse. I hated her when she'd say that. Mother looked at me, as she held up the plate she'd pieced back together.
Diana, I'm going to glue the plate. Her eyes were large with wonder. Maybe she was thinking of earlier days. I don't know. I'm going to glue this, Diana, she repeated. She looked loved, in that moment, as her face glowed with her thoughts -- maybe thinking of the first years of the marriage. I could see the innocence and hope she once had. I had never seen that before, knowing her as Dad's drunken rages stole her innocence and love, and lined her face.
I felt sorry for her. No. I always felt sorry for her.
But now, I didn't. I felt what she felt.
The hope and sadness of a time gone by. I could see how she'd celebrate the hope and love that once had been there. She smiled, as she held the pieced-together plate. She looked 20 years younger, the only giveaway was her furrowed brow and sad mouth. My eyes misted as I held the glued-together plate.
She knew -- and I knew, that her relationship with Dad could never be fixed, but in gluing the plate back together, the shards that were her were sufficient to carry on. And in that moment, I had empathy for her, my mom, the mom I had spent most of my life hating.
What I want to do in my writing is to make people feel -- to feel pain, but to feel hope in that pain.