Three Car Crashes and the Long Afterward
The story is no longer me and my vehicles but my mother and hers. We called it an accident, but it wasn’t.
I have been hitRelease me.
I was my mother’s first-born daughter, but not her favorite
but not her favorite
Beth is the daughter I wish I’d never had. Beth is too much trouble.
I love you
I remember when I was 22—all day I said to anyone who would listen, “Today is the 22nd of May and I’m 22.” Wasn’t I clever? But I suppose that, in a way, is not all as dumb as it sounds. Perhaps that is one of life’s mysteries—to find a near perfect balance between life’s simplicities and life’s mysteries.
Now last night, when sleep was reluctant to rest on any pillow, I thought of beautiful things I could say to my beautiful 22-year-old—now, however, it just seems that I don’t want to be clever or wordy—I just want to tell you how much I love you—Dad and I—and how pretty your little brown head of curls is. Your smile is an instant frown remover and your talents abound. Mostly, we just love you.
I think I’ve jumped around a lot, but images don’t always assemble themselves in a rational line. Feelings are brittle, porcelain-like. They crack, they chip, and sometimes break into smitherins. (Now there’s a word I’ve heard used many times and don’t think I’ve ever seen. It’s a word, isn’t it?) Sometimes a chip doesn’t matter. But sometimes the finest artisan can’t repair the damage and it must be discarded . . . The summer has been such a maze. Trying to rationalize you there, us here.
You were once an etherial creature.
Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of three dozen books in multiple genres and an award-winning teacher at the University of Pennsylvania. Her new memoir in essays is Wife | Daughter | Self (Forest Avenue Press). Her new craft book is We Are the Words: The Master Memoir Class, from which this essay was adapted. More at bethkephartbooks.com.
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