Lakeside in Incline Village 3
Lakeside in Incline Village, North Lake Tahoe, Nevada (Miranda Hernandez)

You called me the other day, out of the blue. I missed you. It’s always nice hearing from you. I remember when I was pregnant, you always checked in. “How are you feeling?” “Can I get you anything?” “Do you need any help?” It was comforting. It was a respectful kind of request, one that acknowledged I was an adult, with some minor limitations. I miss those conversations.

There was a time when I was broken. (I’m still broken). There was a time when I struggled to get out of bed. (I still struggle to get out of bed). There was a time when all of this was so much harder more immediate. There was a time when I needed help with almost everything. But not all things. I still remembered how to eat and go to the bathroom. I still knew how to put on my own clothes.

There was a time when my sister cooked food at every meal because she knew the smells would bring me into the dining room. There was a time when I avoided phone calls and embraced the power of speaking with my fingers. There was a moment several months later when I really needed a massage, but I couldn’t call my therapist because she didn’t know, and I asked my sister to do that for me. I asked for those things. I chose where I could and couldn’t be strong.

I chose to come back to work. I chose to take the hard job. I chose to hide on messenger because I couldn’t handle all of our customers messaging, “Congratulations!” on what they didn’t know was a dead baby. I chose to be a human being in sea of hard and maybe and no. I chose my capabilities. I’m still the adult you always knew me to be.

You called the other day, out of the blue. I miss you, but I don’t miss this — I don’t miss the constant, “What made you smile today?” I don’t miss the heartfelt meaningless platitudes. I don’t miss being told I’m strong. I never had a choice! I don’t miss the watchful eyes waiting for me to fall apart, to fail. I love you. I don’t miss your loving condescension.

And I think it’s taken me a while to realize it, because for a while, I was messy. (I’m still messy). For a while, I was asking for escorts from the parking lot. For a while, I was jumping at every sharp noise, and crying in hallways, and living like a zombie. (I still live like a zombie). For a while, I accepted your outstretched hand. For a while, I let you rock me to sleep. But it was always my choice. It always should be.

And I hesitate to tell you this. I know that you love me. I know that your words spring from so much love, and it’s hard to resist that urge to comfort you. I love you. I love being loved by you. I also love me. And I am an adult. And I need to be. Please let me be.

Please, let me be.