In my dreams, I'm apologizing to you under water. Yes, actually under water, in my childhood pool where I used to make potions out of leaves & hold my breath just a little too long during tea parties. I can hear the roar of the water & feel the pressure in my ears, eyes burning & red.
All of a sudden I'm standing in the middle of the hallway at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital in a scratchy gown & paper slippers & water is pouring out of my mouth like a tsunami.
Sometimes I cry really hard because I'm not religious. I know it hurts my mother, but I can't reconcile my pain with something bigger than myself, or the culture of othering & intolerance. I remember praying, really praying, twice in the past 15 years. Once in 2004 next a man who broke me, who eventually became Muslim, & we went to church together to make his mom happy. But I prayed, in my head, I just said, "please". Please.
The second time I prayed was in my hospital room in Chicago. My roommate had finally left, the one who was there because she kept trying to steal babies from hospitals. Sometimes she would look at me & cackle "CODE PINK! I'M A CODE PINK!" & then make police siren noises.
She finally left & I waited 5 minutes. Heard no mouth sirens, no cackling. I knelt like someone was watching me from behind, instructing me, like I was doing it wrong. I was doing it wrong. Again, all I could say was, "please". Please.
I feel like maybe every time I've said I'm sorry it was a prayer. As I write this on my phone, it won't even recognize the word prayer. I have to type it in letter by letter. That is how absent of faith my life has become.
I wish I believed in something bigger than my pain, but I've never experienced it. I've never seen anything strong enough to carry the weight I carry. Why didn't you know that it wasn't your weight to carry? I've always carried this alone. It wasn't your burden, & things would be different if you just knew. Please. I'm sorry. Please.
I wonder if silence is a prayer. I learn the history of the saints to feel closer to my mother. This week I visited the oldest surviving building this side of the Mississippi. The cathedral filled me with a soul-deep quiet & I felt so small. I walked along each saint statue trying to remember who they were until I came upon my mother's namesake, Saint Anne, mother of the Blessed Mother. There was a kneeling bench before her.
I clasped my hands & knelt, thinking of my mom, of my illness & how much it hurts her. I said please. I said I'm sorry. No one heard me, but maybe I was the one who needed to hear it. Maybe that made it a prayer. I thought about everyone else who should have heard it, like you.
When I dream, I see your face close to mine & you are disgusted by the water pouring out of my mouth & I'm just trying to tell you I'm sorry. I'm just trying to tell you, please, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I was broken before you were even born. I'm sorry that every year of my life broke me more. I'm sorry that you only got the shards. Everyone knows not to pick up shards with your bare hands. You did. I'm sorry.
Then there were the days you watched me
Moving back into my cave where the wheels turn
Same wheels that drove you off
I should have told you
Before talking in terms of forever
Any given day wears me down
Works me sour
That there are nights when the sky is so clear
I stand obnoxious underneath it
Begging for stars to shoot me
Just so I can feel at home
- Buddy Wakefield
In my dreams there is a heat seeking helicopter hovering above my home. All you can see is a single red shape in the fetal position. It is the only way for a person to see me. I am otherwise invisible. Alone, curled up, immobile, invisible.
Sometimes, I dream you are next to me in bed & your blanket is just a huge red flag. There is considerable space between us, & I'm wearing a blindfold I can't take off. I'm sorry I wasn't ready. I'm sorry I can't see. I'm sorry that I'm one million shards of shattered glass that you cut yourself on repeatedly. I'm sorry that I don't remember how to feel human. I'm sorry I'm like this & that I forgot how to love. But please. Is that a prayer? I don't know what it means exactly, but it is pouring out of my mouth like water. Please. I'm sorry.