As we sat in the Emergency Room waiting area, my mother had yet to look or even speak to me. My father had been able to track down Diana’s parents and they were on their way to the hospital. Charlotte had shown up late to pick us up but Ricky and Damien were still hanging out in the parking lot when she got there, so they told her where to find us. She came breezing into the ER waiting room like she hung out there all the time. She plopped down beside me and started reading me articles from Redbook.
When my mom got up to check with the nurse to see how Diana was, Charlotte turned to me and said, “Here.” Into my hand she shoved a piece of folded up paper. “Look at it when you are alone.” She smiled at me and went back to her magazine. I shoved it into my pocket and immediately forgot about it as my mom walked back to her seat, still avoiding my eyes, and sat down.
Finally their parents arrived, thanked my mom for bringing Diana in and we headed to our car. It had cooled off quite a bit and for once, my mom didn’t fuss at me for not having a jacket on. We sat in the car in silence and about the time I started to say something, my mom looked at me and said, “Are you hungry? I could really go for a bite right now.”
“Sure,” I said, though the thought of eating didn’t really appeal to me too much at that moment. We drove in silence to an all-night diner called Steak and Eggs. It was a real greasy spoon but the moment I smelled the food, I was hungry too. We both ordered steak and eggs and home fries with sour dough toast. My mom ordered coffee and started to ask “Do you want a cocoa…?” but then she paused for a moment and said, “What would you like to drink, Katie?”
I smiled and told the waitress that cocoa would be just fine. My mom excused herself and headed back to the restroom and when the waitress returned with our drinks, I took my spoon and ate the big heap of whipped cream off my cocoa in one bite. As I sat there, licking my spoon, I looked at my mom’s coffee. She had never let me try it at home but it smelled so good, I just had to have a taste. I dipped my spoon in and took a little taste.
The look on my face told her what I had done as she returned to the table. My mom burst out laughing, reached for my cocoa cup, drank about a third of it and filled the rest with coffee. “Now try it,” she said, pushing the cup back towards me.
This time it was sweet and rich. The coffee had given it a sharp taste that was great. “This is really good,” I said. “Is this how you started drinking coffee?”
My mom spent the rest of the meal talking about her mom and how she never liked coffee but her dad had loved it, so after grandpa died, grandma began drinking it this way, just so she could smell the coffee and remember grandpa. It was a sweet story and she told it, my mom misted up just a little. Her parents had died in a car crash when I was one, so I didn’t know them at all.
“Katie…about your dad and I. You have to realize that our problems are just that. Ours. It’s not that I haven’t tried or he hasn’t tried…I guess we’re both just tired of trying. Can you possibly understand what I’m saying?” Finally, her eyes met and held mine. And she did look tired and sad and it made me think of the three of us and how long it had been since we had really and truly been the three of us. Dad was away from the house so much and I spent as much time as possible at Diana’s or had her over to my house, just so I wouldn’t have to be alone with my mom.
But I finally got it. She was lonely too. And as I listened to her I began to see her as not just my mom, but as a daughter and even as just a woman…a woman who was going through a terrible time in her life, without the love and support of her parents.
I knew my parents’ marriage was over, but I had no doubt that they loved me and would do anything for me. But for the first time, I realized that they wouldn’t always be there…that one day, they too would die and I would be all alone. I began to feel ill again, thinking of the words I had said to my mother.
“Mom…those things I said..I didn’t mean…I didn’t think…” I couldn’t find the right words to tell her how sorry I was or how awful I felt.
She reached across the table to me and said, “I know. It’s okay. We are going to be okay.”
As the waitress approached to pour my mom more coffee and clear our plates (mine, almost gone and my mom’s hardly touched) I remembered the note in my pocket. As my mom reached for her purse to pay the bill, I got up and headed for the restroom. Inside, I slid the note from my pocket and took a deep breath. As I opened it up, I read the words “See you next week? Damien.”
I leaned against the wall, smiling. As I closed my eyes I could feel his hand in my hand as we skated. I could feel his hand on my hip and hardness of his shoulder where my hand rested. I could see the darkness of his eyes and flip of his head as his blonde hair slid into them. I could feel his lips on mine…My first real kiss.
I sighed and shoved the note back into my pocket. I opened the restroom door and walked over to my mom at the register. Looking down through the glass case at the candy and gum, I spotted a pack of Big Red chewing gum. Smiling I reached into my pocket for a dollar and asked the lady for a pack of it.
Tonight had been a great night. Tonight I caught a glimpse of myself and who I was becoming. I took a peek inside of my mom’s life and learned a little about her as well. Tonight I caught a glimpse of something more…a look into the future and although it was a little intimidating, it was exciting as well.
“Hey mom, do you want a piece of gum?” She turned to me and smiled, taking the piece I offered. She was right in more ways than she knew. Everything was going to be alright. Suddenly I remembered Diana and couldn’t wait to talk to her in the morning to see if she was alright. I couldn’t wait to tell her about the kiss. And…I couldn’t wait for next Friday night!