Reconciliation of Mother & Daughter

by Danielle Oaldon

You had this laugh-cry that would shatter my late night dreams. Your laugh sounded like
a cry. Your cry sounded like a laugh. Hard for a child to decipher. Sometimes
your laugh-cry would be a joyful laugh from the pit of your soul. A laugh you
shared with him deep into the night. Oh the joy and the love you shared in
those dark hours tainted with cigarettes and beer. It was as if you and him
were the only two under the roof. As if we didn’t exist. Those were the nights
when your laugh-cry was all laugh no cry. That joy would dance its way out of
your gut and fill our old, dilapidated house with so much promise. It was the
duct tape that held that rickety house on Barr Street together. He became the man of the house
located on the streets of that small town ghetto. His presence was his sole contribution. His
presence gained him admission to our party. Treated like a King because Kings are supposed
to take care of their pride. You treated him like a King because like a true King you dreamed he
would stay. When the snow melts, the flowers bloom, and the ghetto streets open up and come
alive you hoped he would stay. That he would choose you and us over the beat of the streets
whose rhythm constantly pulled him. Our home would be more than a hibernation spot. More
than a place to hide when the concrete got cold. More than a place to eat and store his fat in
order to prepare himself for the jungle. He was your love, your reason for being. The love you
gave was unconditional. The love you gave meant he got his plate served before your kids. The
love you gave excused the bruises and beatings from weeks past. The love you gave meant
ignored his drug addiction. The love you gave put him before we and we after
he. The love you gave made you a dreamer. The love you gave had you believing
you were his only that you would be his bride. It was that good, hood type of love that
no man could separate. It was everything. He was everything. Until he wasn’t.

Mommy, what about the times when your laugh-cry was a cry? From the pit of your soul. That
soul of yours carried so much. It carried love, pain, shame, and dreams on
loan. When that laugh-cry turned into cries he was no longer your reason for
being. He was your grand reaper. In one night he could turn from your lover to
your beater. In one night the love turned into black eyes and butterfly
stitches. In one night a laugh turned into a cry and a cry into pain. Love
shattered. Dreams taken back. Your soul once filled with joy now conjuring
pain. That pain was mighty and strong. It held the strength of a woman torn,
scorn, and defeated. Your cry would fight its way through your throat and nose
and ears and release a pain that would seep through the walls and bury itself into
my soul. My young, innocent, unknowing soul was learning to hold darkness
before it knew happiness. My soul learned false love over real love. My soul
learned in order to receive joy you must first be burned. To laugh you must
endure pain first. It learned that being a child of a Black woman is the
opposite of easy. The path of a Black mother is hard with hidden demons and
thorns. It’s a labyrinth that lacks sunlight. The journey of a Black mother is
endless and she carries on her shoulders the pain of our foremothers. All she
wants is to swim in a pool of joy and laughter. Instead she finds herself in
the ebb and flow of cries and laughter while her daughter lurks in the
background absorbing her pain.