My mother arrived first.
She held my hands tightly in hers while the emergency room doctor cleaned and sutured the deep gashes in my face.
Glints of steel. Thread stretched taught. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I whined bitterly with every painful stitch.
The doctor’s hands trembled as he worked. I felt sorry for him, having to deal with this cowardly, disgusting mess of a human being.
I felt sorry for my mom too. The last six months of constant razor’s-edge worry had culminated in her worst fears.
But she wasn’t hysterical, like I would have expected. Or like I would have been.
Instead, she calmly stroked my frightened, balled up fists, and gazed at me with a love that could have filled the whole fucking universe.
She didn’t speak to me with words. Instead, she made these soft, cooing noises. She continued even as her eyes eventually half closed and her body started to sway. I imagined that her psyche had traveled three decades into the past, to rock and soothe her sweet, fussy baby.
I wished so badly to be her baby again – tiny and dependent, with no expectation other than to be held and rocked and cooed at.
Tears pricked hard behind my eyelids at the thought.
“Shh, don’t cry, honey. It’s gonna be okay.”
And then she went back to cooing. And the doctor kept stitching.
And I wept for a long, long time.