Purple Moon Shadows

Here’s another personal essay I wrote for my class in writing retreat.

Purple Moon Shadows

When Jeff, my brother, and I were young, we shared a bedroom. Our full-size bed was positioned under a double window. On some nights we would talk and laugh as the moon moved across the sky. Full moons were our favorite. We would watch the shadows and half light stretch across the backyard.

“Purple moon shadows.” Jeff would call them.

But brothers grow up and become adults. The change is inevitable. In this growth barriers and differences far to vast may develop. Jeff and I went into our separate lives. As years came and went, so did we until one day we stopped seeing each other at all. Was it my straightforward way of stating my position? Was it his drug use? But through our distance I clung to a belief we were both survivors of a turbulent childhood, connected through moon shadows.

Our mother died on September 27, 2003, throwing us together once again.

“What funeral home will be coming for your mother?” The hospital nurse asked.

I dialed Jeff’s cell and went into voice mail. “I chose Crestlawn Funeral Home to pick up mother.”

The next morning I still had not heard from Jeff. How does a sister plan a funeral for her mother all alone? At noon I called Crestlawn.

“Your mother’s body was picked up by another funeral home this morning at your brother’s request.”

My heart beat in my chest and my head spun. I left to go to my mother’s house in hope to retrieve some clothes for her. I made up excuses for Jeff. He had been out of Mother’s life for over two years. He was probably overcompensating for his guilt. I was in denial.

Mother was a self-medicating bipolar and displayed her insanity throughout my childhood and adult years. The products of her existence as a mother was one overachieving, co-dependent daughter and a son who was addicted to both drugs and alcohol. Who could blame how either of us acted?

I slid the key into the lock of mother’s front door. It froze and would not turn. On further investigation, I found the side window of the house had been kicked in from the outside. Now a board had been nailed over the opening from the inside.

Jeff had stolen my right to be part of the burial of my mother. I attended the funeral. Still clinging to the idea that all would be good between us, I told myself he just misunderstood. He was in pain. I stared holes into the back of his head, willing him to turn and look. If he could just turn and look at me, then I’d know he believed in what he did. He left the chapel without ever looking my way.

Rage built inside of me. I went to my car and screamed. I screamed at God for ever letting Mother be the mother she was. I screamed just to scream. Finally I screamed that I was all alone. How could one forgive this kind of betrayal? How could one walk through this kind of pain?

Healing was a long slow process, but slowly I worked through my pain one step at a time. And then one day I was able to forgive. It didn’t come overnight. But I became aware of it for the first time one night when I watched a lunar eclipse in my front yard and smiled. I enjoyed the memory of a young girl looking out a double window into the night sky.

Jeff appeared in my life two months ago, five years after my mother’s death. He was eightenn months clean. I cried for what we never had. Still I searched for purple moon shadows, but the logical part of my mind understood that the shadows were only figments of two children’s imaginations. Children who desperately wanted to believe in magic and fairytales. Ah, but I’ve always been one to follow my heart before my mind.

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