I've done this before, the insanity of trying to convince someone to live. But never before my mother. She doesn't want to go on. She won't admit it, but she has a multitude of problems, and she needs real help, but she won't accept help. She's in pain. So much so that she tries to numb herself nightly with a hefty dose of Scotch. She has no idea what she's saying anymore. But the thing is... I DO.
And I told her as much tonight. I crawled out there on the edge of conversation and dropped a few things... how can I help her? I can't. What can I do? Nothing. Does she know how much it hurts her children that she speaks this way? She wonders if we know how much it hurts her to be without a car? Um, excuse me? She says, if you want to help me, get me a drink. It will your eighth since I've been here. I don't believe that, who is counting? I am. Well, are you going to get me a Scotch? I guess so. I just want to die. And after several more hours of the bitterness that is her tongue, and the craziness that is her mind and our conversation, she is finally ready to go to bed. And I help her there, tuck her in, kiss her cheek, turn down the lights.
And then I crack.
I go to the kitchen and pull out the knives, testing them for sharpness. I glide each one across my calf imagining what it would feel like, what color red is just beneath the skin. I select one. It has a long blade that glistens in the lights. I prop myself on the counter, look at the knife and look at the target. And I think, NO WAY.
And I realize that my bleeding cannot save her, and in the end, it will not release the pain - hers or mine. I can't transfer this problem to my leg or hurt myself into understanding her, and it will not take away the pain of living in a world in which every day my mother tells me, "I want to die," or, "I'm calling to let you know that I'll be dead tomorrow."
I've spent five hours tonight trying to convince her to live, and I'm not sure I've done any good at all. I am sure that she won't be able to recall this tomorrow. But I also know that I didn't slay myself over it. And for now, that's an accomplishment.