When everyone had gone to bed except for my mother and myself, I collapsed into her arms; dribbling a gloopy mixture of tears and mucus over her shoulder.
“Mum, I’m trying my best, I really am. And I’ll continue to do so for as long as I live. It's what she deserves: our love, support and guidance; however tricky it gets.”
“I know, love,” she said quietly, rubbing my back.
We stood like that together for a few moments in silence until I realised that age had shrunk her enough that my breasts now slotted on top of hers like two stacked loaves of bread. The imp inside of me hadn’t yet disappeared, so I shared the observation. Mum chuckled.
“You always had a good rack,” I snuffled, half laughing and half sobbing. Sobbing won the brief battle between shaking off the Sads or falling deeper into them.
“Whenever I tell her that she’s beautiful, she doesn’t believe me. She thinks that it’s just my job to say that.” An elephant-like bellow into a damp tissue added extra punctuation to my statement.
“She is beautiful. If she’d only smile more...”
Stepping back, I decided to say it. To reveal the tiny sadness that had shadowed me, ever-so-faint but still present, for so many years. “But Mum, you never said it to me.”
It was her turn to step back, eyes widened in surprise. “Of course I did love. You were beautiful as a child, beautiful at your formal, beautiful on your wedding day, beautiful when the baby was born -----"
“But you never told me,” I whispered. “Not once.”
“But you must have known?”
Sinking down into the lounge, I looked up at her, still standing there uncertainly. “No, Mum, I didn’t. I would have killed for a ‘you look nice today’ from you. Even once.”
She sat down beside me. Several seconds passed. Would she say, 'Oh but you should have been aware of it anyway’ or become defensive, saying that she’d been busy and tired; or reiterate that she never wanted to produce children too full of their own importance, or ....
“You are beautiful. You have always been beautiful.”
She placed her hands on both sides of my cheeks. “I love your beautiful face.”
I cried again, but it was good this time.