The question, “I saw my mother crying” nudged a memory. My parents separated several times before I was twenty years old.  The incident I recall happened the summer I was nineteen, and my parents were apart.

It was early evening. I had been practicing and was sitting at the piano in the living room. When the music stopped, I heard loud sobs coming from my mother’s upstairs room.

The sobs sounded phony. I was sure my mother was trying to manipulate me to make me feel sorry for her. She was a stoic. There was no way Mom would let me hear her shed real tears–that would mean letting me know she was feeling vulnerable. I felt both disgust and uncertainty.

Now, I am ashamed. Did it matter whether her tears were real? She needed something from me. Did I have the capacity to feel compassion toward her?  Was I unwilling to let go of my childish ways and respond as a maturing daughter?

Too late. I must let go of this piece of the past.

Elaine (Jan.’14) adds, “This was just awful to write about. There was a time in my life I would have done exactly the same thing my mother did. No matter how fake, I would have made a bid for compassion and comforting.”


Editor’s note:  “I’m most relaxed when…” will continue as our story-starter and a new one will join it, “If I had a week to live, I’d…”

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