It was the first time I'd seen my mother's eyes widen to such a bulbous size. It was shock I think. Shock that she was now faced with a task that meant an emotional action, a shift in her being that she'd not contemplated before, certainly not something she'd ever been prepared to understand except in movies or 500 page novels. And certainly not now, not in her kitchen, not in the form of her tearful white faced 9 year old offspring that sat across from her at the kitchen table. Not with news like this.
I waited listening to my heart beat, listening to the inner signals that I'd come to know intuitively like an inherited language. The voice told me I must give as much time and air as possible. We both knew a mere response in itself wasn't on call. This situation was demanding that she give a piece of herself that before now had never been called upon so directly and with such need.
She makes the moments stretch and lead to activity. Common simple things. Dishes picked up and taken to the kitchen in a robotic habitual way. No thought, just movement. I'm terrified but I dare not give up now. The words have been released. I continue to wait silently.
Returning to the table and realizing there is nothing left to do with her hands or body she is left with what is to be done with her heart and here she falters. A challenge she's faced head-on a hundred of times that go unattended. How to feel.
Now what? I ask myself. Now what? Then I do what needs to be done in the moment. To understand by mother I become my mother and step into her skin and like so many disguised needs served, I answer my own question in hopes she'll participate. "Maybe we should go to the policemen that handle this kind of thing and tell them what happened and they might know what to do next." I say in a low soft voice. I ache for her to react. Nothing. Are there rape policemen I wonder to myself?
Hearing my voice enter her thoughts, the trance has been broken and now she stares at me. Straight on. Cringing, the pain already searing my skin from inside, I see she's found a way to lay blame and yes, shame, especially shame. Then with a minute, upward nod of her head and the small exhalation of air escaping her nostrils she lays to rest the subject with staggering finality. I hear the silence like the words are floating in the room. Your fault. Got what you got for a reason. Must've been.
The kitchen, with it's habitual and comforting motions and shiny tools offers refuge and with her back to me now, hands busy again, silently signals my emotional dismissal of both body and soul.