You died on a Saturday and somehow, I knew something was up. I awoke that morning like any other, quietly making coffee and sharing a plate of scrambled eggs with my dog as my family continued to sleep. I thought maybe I was just stressed, but something felt odd and I couldn’t figure it out. I began my studies that morning and the words moved across my book as if they were carried away by ants. I had no focus and no matter what I did, I could not get my shit together.
Then the text message came, and you were gone.
I breathed slow and for long moments, accepting that this day had come. I realized then what little was left of the iron grip you’ve had on me my entire life, had finally been released. I thought back to the last conversation we ever shared. It was like almost every conversation we had. You told me how disappointed in me you were. It stung as hard as it always does, and I was sorry for letting you down again. I was sorry I’m such a Trainwreck.
As a little boy I used to fantasize about one day doing something impressive and running into your open arms, hearing how proud of me you are. As a teenager I dreamt of you telling me you weren’t mad at me anymore, and that I could come home. As a confused young man trying to figure out his place in a world he wasn’t prepared for, I would dream about getting off a plane in uniform returning from overseas to hear you say it. Just once, just for me. “I’m proud of you, Sergeant Juliano.”
Years later I boyishly entertained dreams of walking across that stage in my cap and gown and there you would be standing, smiling ear to ear telling me “You did it! I’m proud of you, Dr. Juliano.” I accept that I live in my own reality, and that we do not control who we love.
As an angry young man, I always wondered why things were so different for us compared to other boys and their mothers. As a realistic adult in a realistic world, it became obvious my fantasy has always been just that; a selfish fantasy that only existed in the selfish world I created. I have grown so used to hearing others tell me how much you bragged about me, in time I became numb to it and the confusion it created in my life. I used to think people were exaggerating what they said. I used to wonder if you talked about your son that way, why were you still so upset with me?
I accepted long ago that you have forgiven yourself. You have forgotten everything that happened and are at peace with who you are. You have long forgotten the hurt, the many court cases, and my broken spirit I had to figure out how to fix. I know that you tried to be happy toward the end of your life. All I ever asked for was closure regarding what happened during the beginning of mine. I kept telling myself you were just waiting for the right time to tell me the few things to my face that you know I’ve longed to hear all my life.
I kept clinging to this hope you would make time for me and finally answer my questions. So many fucking questions. Why did you turn me into a monster? Why did you teach me to be so cruel? I hoped you would tell me you’re sorry for what you did to a defenseless child. To me. That you’re sorry I was taken away from you. That you’re sorry you later sent me away. That you’re sorry you forgot who I was back when I was no one, only to remember once I became someone. If Sergeant Juliano and Dr. Juliano are so important to you, why wasn’t Dominick?
In your final years you found a husband and a family who adored you, and I was happy for you. You were surrounded by people who knew this version of you, not the one I’ve known my whole life and I honestly thought that was great. I accepted I’m the leftovers still remaining from four failed marriages ago and you have long moved on. From a distance, I’ve smiled and have been happy for you. You did it Mom, you created a comfortable life for yourself; surrounded by people who see you as a kind old woman. Someone incapable of doing the things you did. Yet you still never found a reason to stop being so angry at me. And so, from a distance I said goodbye to you.
Long before you passed
It wasn’t that day you told me you were dying of cancer that knocked me off my rails, it was shortly afterward when you told me you were disappointed in me that final time. I realized then it was time to get up and move forward.
السبيل الوحيد للخروج هو من خلال
Up to this day, I never stopped being that confused 8-year-old looking around, wondering why you dropped me off with a bag of clothes and left in such a hurry to begin a new life with a new family. I never understood why every time you or Dad got mad or started a new life, I had to go to another institution or with another family – just not either of yours. Now sitting here as a forty-year-old man pursuing the next “hardest goal I could possibly find,” I realize I am stronger and better than that. You stopped controlling my happiness long ago.
This morning I held my nine-year-old son close and touched his forehead to mine. My son looks so incredibly like me, yet he doesn’t behave anything like I did at his age. My son smiles and laughs. He isn’t lonely or scared. He never holds his head down in shame or tells you he is sorry at the slightest bit of trouble. My son isn’t afraid to make mistakes, he is encouraged by parents who love him and will be there to help him back up and send him back out after he falls.
As time passes, I know I will feel the emotions I am feeling right now less and less. One day this will be another distant yet painful memory. I accepted long ago that a part of me will always be that scared little boy looking out his window at you as you got in your car and drove away. I will always be that little boy watching from my window through tear-stained eyes as your tail-lights disappear and I whisper that I love you. Hoping someday that you’ll hear me.