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Putting My Mother Back Together

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Really, I am just trying to put her back together. The woman I knew as my mother was dismantled, by illness and by fear and trouble, but there’s the person I didn’t know, ever, and I am trying to find her.

I made one phone call, to G, my cousin, the daughter of one of my grandmother’s sisters. I sent one email, to my uncle.  It took me a long time to do this, and I finally managed it in one of those middle of the night seizures of bravery. All you require is one moment of insane bravery, someone wrote. Or at least something that can pass for insane bravery.

The email I wanted to send to my uncle, my mother’s only brother, was something like, “Can you tell me what the hell happened?” Instead, it was kind of desperate, admitting to him that I had never asked her certain questions while she was alive (How had she met my father? Why hadn’t she gone to college after she’d been accepted? What else had happened to her in her life?), and hoping he could tell me something. The specific questions I had had no longer seemed terribly important. Anything he could do to fill out my hollow picture would do.