Last night, I peeked in on my mom and she was dozing, the television blaring in the background. I went to her bedside, started to click off the lamp, and she opened her eyes. I wasn’t sure if I would find her still agitated and angry as she had been most of the evening. I leaned close and asked if she was ready to go to sleep. She nodded, but did not speak. I took out her hearing aid and put it in its case; kissed my mom on the cheek; told her goodnight.
I clicked off the light and eased into my bed — a twin daybed where I have slept for the past 22 months so I can help my mom without padding across the house in the dark. My mom and I are roommates these days, like college coeds thrust together by fate and circumstance.
Across the shadowy room, I hear my mom’s voice. It isn’t uncommon for her to speak out loud. She often has conversations with herself or someone she used to know. I roll over, listening, straining to hear her words above the whir of the fan. My mom is having a conversation with God. Her message is simple: “I am sorry I was mean tonight, dear God. Please forgive me. I’ll try to do better tomorrow. Amen.”
After all these years, even in the muddle of mental illness, my mom is teaching me life lessons I need to learn. Even in her confusion, my mom has moments of clarity and amazing lucidity. With her simple prayer, my mama reminds me that we all falter, we all make mistakes. We all have days we wish we could take back; Moments when we know better, but do it anyway. Sometimes we hurt people with what we say or do. Wicked words wound like jagged shards. But even with our human failings and shortcomings, my mom reminds me that, most days, most of us are doing the best we can.