24: Until One Day

24: Until One Day

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Until One Day

Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.

~Abraham Lincoln

Not again, I thought, but all the bumping and cursing from the hallway beyond my closed door told me differently. I may have been but four years old but the muffled sounds of sorrow had become all too familiar. As I sat on my white canopy bed, I would often turn up the volume on my little thirteen-inch television set and pretend that my life was as sweet as the cotton candy pink throw pillows that surrounded me. Just like my father had instructed me to do so many times in the past, I sat and waited and minded my own business until he came for me. Until one day… I didn’t.

Maybe I was being disobedient. Maybe I was just curious. Maybe I was just a small girl whose desire to match sounds to sights overcame her desire to be safe in a land where laugh tracks had perfect timing. As I cracked my bedroom door I was startled by a gruesome sight that took a while to decipher. Eventually, I realized that the arms and legs I was seeing belonged to two people—my father and my mother—and my father was suffocating my mother with a pillow while she fought back.

Had my eyes deceived me? How could my father—my provider and hero—hurt my mother, who was my other provider and hero? Suddenly my mother reached out and yanked the phone cord, sending the telephone crashing to the wood floor. In that instant, I came eye to eye with two people I had never met before: a violent, angry man I called Daddy, and a vulnerable, listless woman I called Mama.

Mama stretched for the phone but couldn’t reach it. She begged me repeatedly to hand her the phone or call 911. With every plea from Mama came a threat from Daddy not to touch the phone or else. If I had had the courage to take just one step towards Mama I would have been her saving grace that day. But I was more afraid of the malice in Daddy’s voice than I was the urgency in Mama’s. Retreating back to my room, I shut the door, turned the volume up on my television, sat on my white canopy bed and pretended that my life was just as sweet as the cotton candy throw pillows that surrounded me.

Until one day.

One day, my mother, brothers and I stopped running away from home.

One day, we stopped returning to the battered women’s shelter.

One day, we stopped hiding at my grandmother’s house.

One day, we stopped pretending we didn’t see the bruises, busted lips, and blackened eyes.

One day, our father was gone for good.

One day, I no longer had to pretend.

And for that, I say, thank you.

Thank you for deciding that our mental health was more important than the stigma that came along with being a divorced single woman with three young children.

Thank you for deciding that struggling to provide for us was worth more than the security of an extra paycheck.

Thank you for not letting us grow up with domestic violence.

Most importantly, thank you for leaving my father, whom I loved dearly.

It was the best choice you could have ever made for you, for me, for us.

For that, Mama, I thank you.

~M.G. Lane

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners