ll A Little Bit Stronger- Sara Evans ll
I bite my lip softly, the nerves coursing through my veins, Belle's hand clutched into mine, fingers entwined. The only thing I could hear was the beat of my heart, pounding loudly, as well as the background noise of the radio playing a mainstream, overplayed song.
"You sure you want to do this?" Belle glances at me, but I keep my view angled towards the window, where right there, is my house. Well, my mother's house now. I read online that her latest book tour had just finished and sure enough, her BMW was in the driveway.
"I'm positive," I answer.
Why was I here? Why was I at the place I had wanted so badly to escape?
Simply for closure.
I hated the idea of feuding with my mother. Whether she agreed with my sexuality or not, we were family and heavens forbid anything happens to either one of us, I would want everything to be ended on a good note, no grudges, no harsh feelings.
Maybe not acceptance of any kind, but I wanted to just close this chapter with her, this long lived feud. We'd never be close, she'd never truly get it or understand it, we'd never be best buddies and I could never call my mom my best friend.
We would never have shopping trips together, or sit up chatting about our love lives. I may never move back in with her, or be a real part of her life, but the least I could do was try to make things okay for now.
So there it was.
Here I was.
"Do you want me to come in with you?"
I shake my head, now finally glancing over at Belle, "No… I just… I think I need to do this on my own."
"I'll be right back," I nod, opening the car door.
"Good luck. I love you." She smiles.
"Thanks and I love you too." I grin back at her before shutting the door and making my way down the smooth walkway leading up to the front door, making it there and ringing the door bell along with knocking once, twice.
Was I really ready to do this? This could go only one of two ways. Either she wouldn't let me in and would continue to resent me for myself, or she would let me in and this could go as smoothly as it possibly could.
She answers, opening the door and looking at me for a moment, glancing at me up and down. "Lily… I wasn't expecting you."
"Can I come in? This'll only take a minute," I say softly.
"Yeah," She looks surprised, "Sure, sure," I step into the foyer, taking a quick glance around the house and noticing that not much, or anything at all rather, has changed. "Want to come into the kitchen for a cup of tea?" She offers.
I'm taken aback by her generosity, but gladly agree and am led into the kitchen, where still, everything is the same. The pictures of me and her that were professionally taken when I was maybe thirteen are still up though, a good sign… at least to me of course.
Before I know it, we both have our tea and are settled across one another at the kitchen table.
"You look… different." She says silently.
"I've grown up, mother… that's what happens. Time changes people."
"So, what brings you here?"
"You," I answer before taking a sip of the green tea. "I wanted to make peace mother. I want to bury the hatchet and move on. Aren't you tired of this fighting, mother?"
She's quiet for a second, taking a sip of her own tea, "Are you saying you want to move back in? Have you and that girlfriend of yours broken up?"
I shake my head, "Belle and I are still very much together. We just got back from Bora Bora, actually," another sip, "But that's beside the point. I'm tired of the fighting, I'm tired of the resentment, okay? I know you don't agree with my sexuality, I get that. You don't have to agree with it, I'm not making you. I just want to know that I love and respect you so much, even if you don't do the same for me. But I want closure. I'm not asking for much here."
"You are actually," She says sternly. "Closure? You're asking for closure? What kind of closure, exactly, Lily?"
Here we go.
"Closure, as in, if anything were to happen to either of us, heaven's forbid, I want to know that we ended on a good note and not a sour one, mother. We don't have to talk, we don't have to live together, we don't have to do mother-daughter stuff, although I wish we could, but the least we can do is forgive and forget."
"How can I forget that my only daughter has rebelled against me? That she left me, just like my husband, that she's out there doing things I don't approve with a person I don't approve of?" Her voice shrieks higher.
I shake my head, "Mother, I'm not purposely rebelling against you- I'm being who I am. Can't you be proud of that? That at least I'm being who I was meant to be rather than pretending like I have all these years?" My tone isn't angry of sad, just sincerity. As much as I could get. "And doing things you don't approve of? Yeah, I'm dating a girl, someone you disapprove of, but we're not out there snorting cocaine, mother. We're not like the other teenagers. Trust me, we could be doing much worse!"
She sighs, now taking her turn to shake her head, staring into her tea, watching as the steam rose out of the mug. Awaiting her to say something, I realize she's not going to and take it as more of a chance for me to speak.
"Why must you relate everything I do to dad, mom? I'm not trying to be like him if that's what you think, I wouldn't dream of it."
"Because," Her voice is small. "You leaving, you being with that girl… it all reminds me of him… him leaving, taking off, leaving me all alone…"
"I didn't leave you mother," The knives in my voice is uncontrollable, I can't help it. "YOU made me leave. You're the one that kicked me out, don't you recall that?"
"I MADE you leave because of what you were doing… all your life I never… I didn't raise you like that, Lily… I didn't understand and I still don't understand. I didn't want to be under the same roof with a daughter I was ashamed of."
My eyebrows shoot up. Ashamed? Was she f.cking serious? "Ashamed? So that's it, mother, you're ashamed of me? Please. It didn't matter how you raised me, even though you hardly did because guess what? You were never f.cking home to raise me! I am who I am because that's who I was meant to be. You're f.cking Catholic, don't you believe in God doing things for a reason and making people in his eyes or whatever that sh.t was?"
She glares at me, her eyes narrow. "Don't say that," Her voice turns sour before she takes a sip of tea. "This is why we can't have closure, Lily. Because you so strongly disagree with me, you won't let yourself see /my/ views in all of this. You don't get it."
"No," I say firmly, leaning ever so slightly across the table, "YOU don't get it mother. You don't get what it's like. To meet people and have to tell them that you live with your girlfriend because your own mother, flesh and blood, kicked you out. To have to come out and hear the whispers and to get bullied so badly you don't even want to be alive anymore. To live with your girlfriend and have to experience the hardships of teenage relationships and get in fights and have all that tension under one roof, a few bedrooms away from each other. You have NO idea how hard you've made my life by kicking me out. Don't get me wrong, I love living with Belle, but that's not how it's supposed to be now. I should be living with someone in a few years, when I move out to go to college, not when I'm still just struggling at the age of fifteen, okay? So no, mother, I understand you completely. I understand that you're homophobic, that you don't agree with it and that's alright, stay like that, but it is not me that doesn't understand you mother, it is you that doesn't understand me."
She stares at me, her mouth now an O, her beady eyes staring back at my own. She sighs, shaking her head, "I'm sorry, okay? I don't agree with who you love.. I may never agree with it and things'll never be the same, but I'm sorry. Sorry for being such a sh.tty mom, Lily."
I'm shocked she would say this. That she'd actually apologize and agree, and maybe just this was the closure I was hoping to obtain. "Thank you," I bite my lip. "Thanks."
"Yeah," She says quietly.
We're silent for a moment, the eeriness and the conversation still stirring in both of our minds. Even though this all wasn't the most desirable conversation I could've had, the end result turned out to be not as bad as I thought. She apologized and that was that. She was right that things would never be the same and I didn't expect them too. But having an apology, that was enough for me.
"Well, thank you for your time mother. This was exactly the closure I was hoping for," I stand up with one last sip of tea, just as she stands up opposite me.
"Anytime," She says this, although part of me knows she doesn't necessarily mean it.
We walk to the foyer and I walk outside, both of us staring at each other. This is the part where we're supposed to hug or kiss or something, but instead I just stare at her, nodding my head to her, "Thanks,"
She nods back and I had back to the car, where Belle waves at my mother. With my back turned to her, I don't know whether she waves back or not… but part of me hopes she does. Just when I reach for the handle, she calls out though.
This time I turn, staring at her, "Yeah?"
"Would you mind if I called you… sometime?" She looks worried, nervous.
I nod, "I wouldn't mind at all. Call anytime." It's not a huge step, but it's a step. She's reaching out, I'm letting her and that's all that matters. I duck into the car, right next to Belle, who doesn't say anything until we've driven off.
"So? It went well, I'm assuming?"
"It was alright… it was hard, but… I got just what I was hoping for…"
"Well, maybe not exactly. Like we're on a good note and maybe it'll stay that way for awhile, if that makes sense. I think she's actually willing to make things alright."
"The question is, are you willing to make things alright?"
I think about it, taking a breath in and a breath out before grabbing her hand and putting mine over hers, nodding happily and letting a smile slip on my face before giving a final answer. "Yes. I am."