v u l v a l i c i o u s
i've been musing on muscle memory. what makes a thing stick inside your body and adhere to your bones. the ache of not knowing how you know what to do, just feeling pulled to do it. the taffy-stretch of hurting and loving and fucking up the same way my parents did.
it's in the way i remember the right speeds for the roads, the way i make the turn without thinking, just a slow roll of the steering wheel to the right and braking, because we go from 35 to 25 here. i know it.
i know when she says she's hurting that she is and she isn't, and that there's no way to pull apart the sticky truth of which one's real. she doesn't want me to go. she's scared of me dying, but she's the one lying there, eyes unfocused and mouth too red. when she asks me if she's dying i want to tell her yes, you are, right now, just do it. i don't lie, but i don't tell that hard of a truth either.
yes, i say, but aren't we all?
it was always my job to make it ok. to make her ok. it's written in my heart in the way i cry too quietly or not at all. scrawled over the jokes that i make when i'm really upset. i'm so scared, and i don't know who to talk to. i hold my dog and thank god i don't have a child to fuck up.
my dad doesn't stop to notice where he is, too caught up in her. her sickness, her love, her dying. he still holds her, comforts her. she yells at him sometimes and he pets her head, calls her precious. you don't want to see this kind of heartbreak in action, how he's going to peel apart and lose himself more every day. he's given so much. and she's taken, because she could. she had to.
i'm here to be the one who notices. catches things. makes sure he can still breathe when she's gone. i'm just as afraid of losing him as her.
and i'm not a child anymore, even if i feel that way sometimes when i'm here. this place and my family are fused into my heart and bones and knotted on my vocal chords. they're the thick accent that spills like tea when someone talks to me here. a mess, obvious, sticky-sweet.
it's terrifying to think about my life being here. broken teeth and tiny paychecks and bible verses on t-shirts. marrying a man and settling into a hair-shirt life. i don't know. i know i couldn't do it, but i think there was a time i would've. i won't now.
i've been given 6 weeks of shorted pay to help my mother die, and it's selfish and shitty but i want her to do it. mother's day. her birthday. mine, if that's what it takes. she's already in constant pain, and when she says "god help me" in anguish i want to whisper that i will smother her, give her an overdose, anything, if she wants it to end. her suffering makes me sick.
but of course i'll stay if i can. hold her hand and call the nurse and crush her pills into yogurt so they're easier to swallow. i'll do what needs doing. service is in my bones. learned, deep, down in the marrow. it's what i've always done. it's what i'll always do.