Friday, April 20, 2012

The hardest sound for me to stomach hearing

is that of my mother crying. Her voice starting to break into a sob while she's on the phone with me, asking for help in ways that I can tell make her feel inadequate. I was going to the bank to get money to pay for her gas so she could come see me today, because earlier in the week she'd said she didn't have the funds to make it to up this way and I wanted to see her before she went to the hospital. I didn't know how much it cost to fill her tank, so I called her this morning on the way to the ATM to ask, and she hesitantly asked if I had an abundance of cash in my account. I asked her what she needed, and she started to break down as she said she wanted to borrow some money to get groceries. I asked again, how much she needed. $100 if you have it. I just, all I have is $100 and I was sitting here looking in the kitchen and there's no food in the house and *voice breaks here* I didn't know how they we going to eat while I'm gone. Is $100 enough? Do you need more? She hesitates more, before saying that $150 would be even better. I shouldn't have to ask you for money, she says. I'll get it right back to you when I get paid on the 30th. I'll have Nana or somebody put it right back in your account. It's okay, I say. No, it's not, she counters.

I don't know how to tell her that it is okay. I don't know how to convey that I am disgusted by this life where I stood in front of my closet last night rifling through dresses I haven't worn yet to see which one I wanted to wear to a semiformal this weekend when my mother doesn't know how to put food on the table. I don't know how to convey that (even though I know this is why individual Black people can make money without ever generating wealth) I am willing to put the basic necessities of my family above most luxuries for myself if only they let me know. I don't want to be that person who gets grown and moves up and forgets about the struggle at home, but it's so easy to be out of sight out of mind when they don't tell me how bad it is until they can't handle it anymore. 

...I don't know how to feel like a good person when I do things like drop $600 on a class ring and look for $1000+/month apartments in DC when my very ill mother doesn't know how to feed my brother and sister. I don't know if any of my own financial woes can be valid in the face of my struggling family. I don't want to feel like they're depending on me, but I want them to know and use the fact that they can count on me to help when I can. She loves the netbook I bought her, but when I compare purchases like that to purchases like these groceries, I feel like I'm showing my support wrong. I don't know how to listen to her voice break without wanting to give up every single extra thing I have so that she never has to feel like that again.

...I don't know if daughters are supposed to feel this way about their parents, like it's my job to make sure everything doesn't fall apart, but then again I suppose that's always been my job, so I should just accept it as it grows and develops as I move further into adulthood.   

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