The Single Most Important Word

Over the phone in the blinding darkness of the hotel room.
My voice trembled with fear and pain.
And through the heart breaking sobs, between short, stammered breaths, I could only manage one word, “Mom.”
I was frozen in place like a cold, lifeless statue.
I was sweating and shivering both at once.
I wanted to pull the covers over my head but I resisted;
I had heard the door open, then shut, but I had not actually watched him leave.
“What if he’s still here?” I asked myself.
I said it again, “Mom!”
Hers was the only voice that could make it better.
The only voice which would make me feel safe.
The memory itself is horrifying, and traumatizing to recall.
Yet each time I think back to that night, it reminds and validates for me:
How much my Mom truly means to me.
How much I obviously still need her.
And how dearly I love her.

My Mother and I’s relationship, as with any, has had its ups and downs.
I may even venture to say we’ve had upside downs, backwards and sideways moments.
I am the baby of the family;
The youngest of five children, five years apart.
Collectively, we were more than a handful.
Juggling was not Mom’s specialized field of work;
Although, it may be safe to assume at times she felt like she was a ringmaster in the circus.
All the things that teenage rebellion entails, we were sure to get ourselves into.

As a feisty, rebellious, and self-proclaimed all-knowing 13 year old, I challenged my Mom, “I’m probably your least favorite child!”
To which she quickly verified with a loud, resounding, “You are!”
When I was 14, Justin and I snuck out of the house.
Mom found us a few hours later playing basketball by street light in the parking lot where she knew to look for us.
Sitting on the old, ragged, pastel blue, hand me down love seat in the family room back at home, I finally pushed her to her breaking point.
“B*tch!” I called her!
She yanked me from that love seat by the back of my hair, and with the most loving amount of force, shoved me against the wall.
At the age of 15, Mom refused to speak to me for three days after I informed her of my pregnancy.
I would have preferred she yell and shout all of her disappointments at me right then and there.
It was a grueling, harsh, three day lecture of nothing but silence.
I knew her lack of words was a punishment;
Guilty and humiliated, I served my sentence.

When I gave birth to my son, Isaiah Jaiden on the 14th of August 2006, I was 16 years old.
My Mom was by my side every minute of the nearly 18 hour labor and delivery.
As a child myself, she helped me become a mother.
On the 19th of June 2011, I gave birth to my second son, Alexander John.
The moment I went into labor, I turned to my husband tearfully and demanded, “I want my Mom!”

I never will forget the “least favorite child” comment–my words, not hers.
The one and only time she put her hands on me with violence–I think I asked for that.
Or the deafening silence that screamed her disappointment loud and clear-when I was only still a child myself.
Likewise, never will I forget her patience, albeit difficult to maintain at times.
Her sincerity in her concern for my well-being.
And her unwavering support through all my trials thus far.
Nearly every time I have an emergency or need advice, I call my Mom.
She has shared with me in all my fear, excitement, sorrow, joy, turmoil, and peace.

Jason was black, but not like milk chocolate.
Closer to a dark chocolate skin color.
He blended in with the darkness.
Like a coal black camouflage.
He was almost as the darkness himself;
Lonely, cold and empty.
His eyes seemed as if they were glowing.
They were all I could see, staring at me, devouring me, and striping me of my dignity.
He molested me.

I was 22 years old, but like a child, I was homesick for my Mom.
“He touched me…” the words upon my breath instantly caused pain in my chest when they left my quivering lips.
It was as if they took my hope, faith, and joy with them as they left my body.
“He touched me,” I repeated, “I want to come home!”
Still sobbing, I begged my mom to come save me from that living nightmare.
She was confused, understandably.
And she rattled off a list of questions, which at the time seemed endless.
The thought of having to verbalize an elaborate explanation, was tortuous to my soul.
How was I supposed to tearfully describe what had happened to me when I still honestly didn’t know.
For only God knows how long, moments, minutes, hours, I’m not sure exactly how long.
But for longer than I should have, I layed there and was afraid.
Before finally deciding I had to be brave.
All by myself, all on my own.

Upon arriving home after giving my statement to police-my eyes swollen and my face puffy from hours of uncontrollable sobbing, Mom wrapped her arms around me in the most comforting embrace.
She and I have never again spoken of the events of that night or of the subsequent emotional trauma that I have since endured.
Perhaps the lack of conversation on the topic is out of genuine mercy for me.
For which, I admit, I am grateful.

The experience caused what seemed to be a hope destroying disease.
The one positive symptom it caused however, was a complete dichotomy of the experience itself.
Jason was my demon, and at 4 o’clock in the morning, in the pitch black of that hotel room…
My Mom became my angel.
She is a beautiful beacon of light in the horrifying darkness.
A shelter of safety amongst imminent danger.
Hope that seeps into the most hopeless of moments.
Peace during the utmost terror.
And love in the midst of ultimate betrayal.
And in the darkest moment of my life… Nothing mattered more than, “Mom.”

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