75: Losing Mother

75: Losing Mother

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School

Losing Mother

They say that time heals all wounds but all it’s done so far is give me more time to think about how much I miss you.

~Ezbeth Wilder

The death of my mother was difficult, but to hear it announced over the intercom by the principal made me literally shrink in my chair. I’m sure he thought it was an act of comfort or kindness, like when he saw me in the hallway and gave me that oh-so-special greeting of, “And how are you today?” But for me it was just plain awkward.

It was bad enough that everyone in my entire school still had their mothers. The proof was all around me: they had lunches made lovingly by a mother’s gentle hands. Where there were once holes in my fellow seventh graders’ socks, now thread kept those little toes in place. And then there was always the dreaded my-mother-told-me-this or my-mother-told-me-that. But perhaps the worst of all was the long stare one friend gave another, or the obvious push or kick, meant to remind the culprit that she shouldn’t say the word, “Mother,” in the presence of the mother-less.

It’s true that all the teachers in the school did the best they could. Even the school secretary, who was known as being equally mean to everyone regardless to their current plight, gave being nice to me the old college try. When I was sent to the office for supplies, she actually jumped from her desk and practically ran to the supply closet, something virtually unheard of. Not only was she grossly overweight, she was one of those people who didn’t feel as if students were real people with real emotions. She was the type of lady who told her kids to go to bed at 8 P.M. and actually thought they did it. So you can imagine how I felt when I got to the office and she practically ran me over to get to the box of staples and packs of lined paper. “Marshawna,” she said ever-so-slowly, as if she didn’t plan to say anything more.

I had become accustomed to such slow and careful annunciations of my name since Mother’s death. The school secretary did manage to come up with something to say to me in this instance, though. She asked me how my father was doing, in a manner that indicated she couldn’t imagine the death of a spouse after twenty years of marriage. I told her he was just fine, as I had become accustomed to saying when I suspected people were digging for information. Besides, it would have been goofy to have to explain how everyone was doing to someone who didn’t seem to have a heart.

The hallway was long, but the trip down it was far too short. Once I arrived back in class, I noticed that everyone was looking at me. There were two women standing in front of the class. “What?” I wanted to ask my wide-eyed sea of peers. Why was I now the center of attention? Before I could, Mr. Carracci introduced the two women as members of the PTA. They had come to present me with an award on behalf of Mother, who was a stay at home mom and always did the PTA thing. So there stood these two tall women with a freshly printed certificate in one of their hands. “For her fine work with the PTA,” one said, with what I believed to be a sincere tear in her right eye. Mr. Carracci then motioned the class to clap as they all did in unison. I walked to my seat with the certificate.

Eventually, the attention faded. By the end of eighth grade, there were other kids in school with other problems that seemed to shift the focus. Although I loved this “getting back to normal,” I also grew to appreciate what each person at my middle school had done to comfort me. It was awkward, sure. But it was also their way of saying they cared. My friends gradually started talking about their mothers around me again. When sent for staples and the like, the secretary hardly glanced in my direction. She only motioned for me to get my own supplies from the supply closet. And after hearing that awful news broadcast loud and clear to the whole school, I was careful never to give the principal a reason to announce my name on the intercom again.

~Marshawna Moore

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