I wanted so much to believe she as sincere, that some small shred of her former self still remained. But as I stood across from her on the other side and watched her nod to her friend just a few feet away, who on cue, inconspicuously raised her Droid and snapped several photos of the grieving daughter sprinkling dirt over her mother’s open grave, images that would later find their way onto Facebook and a plethora of other social media sites; I knew she was gone forever, that sweet little girl I once so adored and cared for, lost in a world of self-centeredness and conceit.
It wasn’t simply teenage rebellion that led her to do the things she’d done in recent months, it was pure selfishness, greed and the feeling of empowerment, when she successfully played her parents against each other and got exactly what she wanted. It was making her mother pay, for rules she believed she was too cool to follow, because she was fourteen now and knew it all.
What she didn’t realize was that her father’s attempts at proving her mother unfit and seeking full custody had nothing to do with her whatsoever. It wasn’t because after twelve years of joint custody he woke up one day and realized that he wanted to be a fulltime dad and to have her to live with him on a regular basis, it was because his business was failing and if the court ruled in his favor, not only would the monthly child support payments stop, but he would be the one receiving them; every month for the next four years. And with his live-in girlfriend, closer to his daughter’s age than his own, he wouldn’t be bothered with the trappings or responsibility of having to entertain or shuttle her wherever she needed or wanted to go; he had someone to do that for him.
What neither of them realized, was just how sick and weak the mother really was. She hid her illness as best she could, masking it as merely stress or fatigue; refusing to allow it to interfere with her life and her children’s lives; determined to be the best mom she could be, and give her kids everything that she possibly could. But the months of endless psychiatric appointments, evaluations and interviews, left her filled with fear and trepidation, at not only losing her teenage daughter, but her five year old daughter from her current marriage as well, should the strangers who were appointed by the court on behalf of her ex-husband, decided that she was, in fact, mentally unstable and unfit.
It was the day before the hearing and no matter what she did, she couldn’t calm her racing heart, couldn’t stop the worrisome thoughts from their merciless torment, even though she knew she was a good and loving mother and she believed wholeheartedly that truth would prevail.
She called her doctor in a state of panic and twenty minutes after arriving and being led to a private room, she died of cardiac arrest; on the cold steel, paper covered table, in an oversized gown with its faded green and blue flowered pattern; alone, as she worried of her children’s fate and her own.
The daughter was promptly removed from the private school she had attended since pre-K, which her mother and step-father had always paid for, because her dad couldn’t afford tuition. Her iphone was replaced with a basic flip model that did nothing but place and receive calls, and featured an automatic shut off once her monthly minutes had been reached. The live-in girlfriend moved out after three months of being a fulltime babysitter/shuttle service, which she hadn’t signed up for and had absolutely no interest in; and having been forced to begin her high school years in public school, the know-it-all teenager found herself pregnant by the end of third semester, hoping that her grandparents would take sympathy and allow her to live with them, instead of her deadbeat dad, who she not so long ago, believed was totally awesome; for giving her anything she asked for and letting her do whatever she wanted.
©2011 Jill Terry