Monday, February 13, 2017
I’m in shock. Total, utter shock.
I walked into Mom’s room to find her sitting up in a chair. She’s been working hard in rehab and seeing her out of bed was amazing. She smiled awkwardly as I applauded her.
“Look at you! How does it feel to be up and about?” I asked.
“Pretty good,” Mom said in the quiet voice she’s been using the last few days. Her emotional storms had been absent for several visits now. I didn’t know whether to worry or feel relieved. Dr. Kini hadn’t given me much to go on except to say, “She’s making some important decisions. Give her time to work things out for herself.”
I was about to cheer for her a little more when Meyso came in, his expression worried and stunned as he gripped a handheld, one of the larger ones the doctors use to make notes on their patients and access their files. Before he could say anything, Mom held up her hand in warning. “I haven’t said anything to her yet, Mikey. Please give us a few minutes.”
Meyso looked at me, the concern growing in his eyes. He took a deep breath and nodded to Mom. “All right. Shalia, I’ll be outside the door if you need me afterward.”
With that, he turned and left me alone with Mom. Dreading whatever she was about to tell me, I managed to joke in a weak voice. “And here I was thinking the last few days have gone so well.”
She gave me a crooked smile. “Well, it wouldn’t be me if I couldn’t throw a kink in things, now would it? Maybe you should sit down.”
I reluctantly trudged to the chair she’d motioned to, one next to hers. I sat. She held out a hand and I took it. Her touch was warm, and I wondered how bad this would be if she was being so nice.
She squeezed my hand. “I’ve decided on where I’m going for the remainder of my physical rehabilitation.”
I looked at her in confusion. “I thought there was only one for you to go to, that nice spa-type one five minutes away.”
She shook her head. “I’m leaving Kalquor, Shalia. I’m going to a medical center in the Galactic Council’s space. It’s not as fancy as the one Mikey was sending me to, but I’ve been assured they are well-regarded.”
I blinked. Mom was going away? Leaving Kalquor? Leaving me? “Wait. What?”
“Dr. Ken made the arrangements. We discussed it last night, and he agreed it seemed like a good idea. The Galactic Council gave their approval for the transfer. I leave in four days.”
Kini had allowed it? Did he have that kind of authority? I couldn’t remember, not when I was floored by Mom’s sudden announcement. “But – but why? I said I wouldn’t keep you from seeing Anrel. I thought you wanted to be around her. She’s going to miss her mimi.”
And I was going to miss my mother, as much as she drove me nuts. Even though I’d been ready to shut her out for Anrel’s sake not so long ago. But that had ceased to be a concern. Mom was great with Anrel. She couldn’t go. Except…
“It’s me. You don’t want to be around me,” I said. “Because I plan to join a clan. Because I made you have the procedures.”
Mom snorted. “For heaven’s sake, Shalia, I don’t blame you for anything. You did what you thought was best. What I would have done for you, had our roles been reversed. Believe me, there’s nothing I’d rather do than get to know my daughter in a way I wasn’t able to before.”
“Then you shouldn’t go. If you really don’t hate me for having Meyso operate, then you would stay.” I felt the crush of guilt, making it hard to draw a breath.
She squeezed my hand again. “Of course I don’t hate you. I love you more than anyone else. I always have.”
“Stay. We need you. I need you. You want to know me without the bipolar disorder in the way. I want to know you too.”
Mom barked a harsh laugh. “How can you figure me out when I don’t have a clue about the person I’ve become? And how can I learn about you when I’m busy working on me?” She scowled, but it wasn’t with the old temper. It was the kind of expression you make when you’ve got a big job staring you in the face and no patience for anything else life wanted to throw your way. “I need time away from all this other stuff. If I’m going to do something with the life I have left, I have to concentrate on me. I can’t do that if I’m trying to navigate old hurts and patterns with you.” She gave me a look that as wretched as it was determined. “You have enough on your plate. You don’t need me added to the mix.”
“But I want you.” Elwa’s words of how I’d regret not having more time if Mom should go away mocked me now. I’d thought it only applied if Mom died, but this was almost as bad.
“It’s not forever,” Mom said. “You can visit me, and I’ll come to see you when I’m in a better place emotionally. You’ve already sacrificed a lot to get me this far, Shalia. I just need you to give up a little more…the time for the old Eve to be put to rest and time for the new Eve to find her place.”
When I stumbled out of her room after her rehab orderly took her to her session, still reeling from this unforeseen turn of events, I found all of Clan Aslada and Dr. Kini waiting for me. I stared at the psychologist’s kind face as he waited for whatever hysterics or fury I was to unleash on him.
I didn’t have the strength for either. All I could do was ask, “Why?”
He gave me a comforting smile. “She feels she needs a clean slate to start from. A new situation in which she can begin again.”
I swept an arm around. “This isn’t new? She isn’t creating a new life now?”
“In some respects, no. One important part of her old life remains.”
“Me.” My voice went flat. “She can’t stand to be around me.”
“She can’t stand to be around the guilt of her past with you. She looks at you and sees regret for what your relationship could have been. The constant reminder that you didn’t have the typical mother-daughter dynamic is eating at her, Shalia.” His look turned sad. “The anger, the unkind words, the judgments she’s making…it’s all coming from a place that has nothing to do with any actions you’ve taken. It’s all about what she feels is her failure.”
“Shouldn’t she face that?” I asked, grasping for a way to stop her from leaving. “Isn’t it irresponsible to let her run away from her problems?”
“If she wasn’t already facing the larger problem of redefining who Eve Monroe is now.” Kini held his hands out, as if surrendering to me. “I signed off on her request for transfer because I agree that should be the priority. Trust me when I say neither she nor I took this matter lightly. She does not want to run away from you and Anrel. You two are everything to her right now. All she has left. But she can’t be the person she wants to be for you until she gets this self-identity matter cleared up.”
I sagged all over, defeat settling in my gut like a stone. “You are sure this is best for her?”
“For all of you. For that healthy relationship you both want, you must agree this is best. You still have to sign off on it.”
I gave him a startled look. “I do?”
“Power of attorney, remember? You are in control of your mother’s care,” Aslada said.
Damn it. Another decision I had to make on Mom’s behalf. As if I hadn’t made enough of the wrong ones already.
“Son of a bitch,” I muttered. “I should have never taken the responsibility. I’m no good at it.”
Kini smiled. “Don’t be so sure. In the end, you may decide you were right in the first place.”
“At least this time, it’s what your mother wants,” Meyso reminded me.
“Fuck,” I groaned. “Give me the damned paperwork. I owe her this decision.”
It wasn’t as hard to give permission for Mom to run off as it had been for me to take control over her life. But it was still hard. I was letting her go. Sending her away from me and Anrel. Sure she wanted to go, but hadn’t it been agreed she wasn’t the best judge of how to run her life? But then, I hadn’t done such a hot job of it either.
Ah, fuck. There doesn’t seem to be any choice that doesn’t suck the happy out of my soul.
After Kini left us, we went into Meyso’s office. We went to his sitting area with the seating cushions. I let Aslada pull me into his lap. He cuddled me close, and all three men petted me as I dealt with this latest catastrophe.
“Damn it, Shalia,” Jaon complained. “Quit with the moral struggles already. If you’d give me an actual enemy to fight, I could prove myself so much better to you.”
I managed a weak laugh. “Sorry. Give me an hour to handle your request. I’ve already proven I can make enemies quick, so you’re in luck.”
“Eve will be all right, lover,” Meyso promised. “I’ve visited the facility she’s going to. I’ve attended training seminars there. It’s topnotch with some of the most advanced techniques in the Galactic Council’s membership.”
“I can’t believe she’s going,” I said. “I’ve never been more than an hour away from her. Even when she was in stasis on the transport and I couldn’t see her, I at least knew she was right there.”
Aslada kissed me. “She’ll be only a few days away by shuttle. Any time you want to visit her after she’s ready, I’ll send you. Just say the word, and you and Anrel are off with the best accommodations money can buy.”
I sighed. “It’s more than the physical separation. The woman I spoke to this morning…for the last few days. So calm. So quiet. Is that the real Eve without the mental difficulties? Because if it is, I don’t know her.”
There. I’d finally said what I didn’t want to admit even to myself. Though I’d worried out loud about the changes Mom might undergo and having to adjust to that, I’d never come right out and said I didn’t want her to really change. Because I might not know her as my mother any more. As much as I want her to have a happy life, as much as I thought I wanted a decent relationship, I don’t want a woman I can’t recognize.
“I’m officially the most selfish person alive,” I said. “How can I want to hold her back, just so I’m comfortable?”
“Because change is terrifying,” Meyso said, his chuckle indulgent. “And let’s face it; you’ve faced more change in a few months than most people do in their entire lives.”
“Crazy changes,” Aslada agreed. “Your planet wiped out. Your way of life torn apart. Hostile aliens trying to kill or kidnap you. That’s only to start with,” he laughed.
“A sick mother and baby relying on you,” Jaon added. “Living among another race of beings. Trying to find a home. By the ancestors, woman, how are you still sane?”
I tried not to feel good about what they said. I was determined to acknowledge this ugly knowledge that to stay comfortable, I was willing to think about keeping Mom miserable. Not that I’d actually do it, but I was able to at least entertain the idea.
But with three fabulously handsome and wonderful men insisting I wasn’t as bad as I am, I couldn’t help but lose a little of remorse for being a rotten daughter. Ugh, damn those guys for being so understanding.
“Fine. She’s going. I’m waving goodbye and forcing myself to hope her dreams all come true. Even if that means I lose her.” I knuckled away tears that weren’t so much regret as the frightened emotion of the little girl who still lived in me. The child who had known only one mom and was deathly terrified of never having any part of her again.
I wish I could grow up. I wish I could be a good person without having to fight myself for it. Why can’t I be a generous, decent human being automatically? I suck at being a nice person. I really do.