“Would you do it all over again?” I ask.
But I don’t ask. I’m always doing this, saying things I never say. It’s always some question, some statement, that would make a difference. But I keep it in my mind. I can’t push it to my lips. I hold it back. I say it over and over in my mind, trying to commit it all to memory, but I will eventually forget. All my stories live in the sky.
I wanted to know if she would still do it, live her life the same way. Would my mother still live her life the same way knowing she would lose my sister.
We had just watched a movie about a woman who finds a way to see the future. She finds out that the child she will eventually have will die but she still chooses to have her, to live her life the same way. I had seen it before and I thought it was so powerful, I thought my mother would like it.
I wasn’t even thinking about the content, how it would connect to her, how it would affect her. I know loss and pain, I know that questioning. I’ve lost hours imagining the different courses of my life, weighing what I would give up and wondering what I would do all over again. It’s a game I play during my saddest times.
When she started crying during the end of the movie I immediately thought to myself, “Of course she’s crying, she’s always so sensitive.” I thought she missed the point, she’s always missing the point.
“Do you get, she can see the future? She knows her child will die but she still chooses to live her life.”
“No,” she said. “I get it.”
I finally saw it. I was the one that missed the point. I was ashamed. I had showed her something painful. It wasn’t my intention for it to go like this.
“Would you do it all over again?” I asked, but didn’t ask.
I just sat there wanting to ask, but knowing I would be disappointed if I did. Nothing is ever how I imagine it in my head, especially with my mother. I dream of the ways she will react or respond to something but it’s never the way I want, it’s never in a way that satisfies me.
“I am who I am,” she would say. “I can’t change.”
She never wants anything to be better. Maybe she doesn’t think there can be better. Maybe she sees it as Dostoyevsky would explain, “That perhaps there is nothing to change into.”
I always think about the pain. The pain we all felt, the pain we still feel. I think about my own pain, my own personal loss. But I never thought about it in the exact terms of how it would personally feel for my mother. How much goes into a person. I’m not a mother, I don’t know what it feels like to create a life and carry that life for 9 months. To watch over a child for all of those years. To sacrifice everything for them. What it would feel like to spend 18 years on something only to lose it. Then to wonder if you knew you would lose it all, would you still do it all over again?
I can tell by her face that she would.