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Love You to Pieces

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I sat in a black-wooden high chair, wobbly on one leg. Nanny scuttled about the kitchen, making calls, setting appointments, and somehow tending to my every need simultaneously. Papa was in his chair, snoozing. He was grumpy that day and I was doing my best to avoid him. I had just awoken from my afternoon nap, and I knew that Mama would be coming to get me soon. I could still smell her stale perfume on my shirt from that morning, eight hours of separation was sometimes too much.

Then she was there, on the front doormat. She wore dark purple lipstick and her hair was long, blonde, and effortless. Her eyes found mine and we were together; anxiety left my soul in creamy puffs. My beautiful Mama, she always came soon enough. Nanny cut the connection, though, through muffled, morose words. The light danced on Mama’s face, casting shadows across a tight jaw.

“What?”

“Bawky died.”

Mama’s eyes clouded over and I couldn’t reach her anymore. She stood, motionless, forever. Nanny offered her things; pills, food, drink. She took some. She didn’t speak. I hugged her, I clutched her legs, but I still couldn’t reach her. Daddy came. He hugged her, fed her, kissed her, touched her, spoke right into her ears, but he couldn’t reach her either. She had sailed away to find her Bawky. Where was Bawky?
Bawky was the big, bald man we loved. He had a wife, Tina, who Nanny and Mama disliked. He gave massages. He had a red goatee and blue eyes. He pulled me around in a blanket and called me the lump. Nanny called him Briney, sometimes people called him Brian. I was his
and Tina’s flower girl. He carried me down the aisle in Mama and Daddy’s wedding. He was Mama’s only brother who lived near us. He was my uncle, and we all loved him. Where was Bawky?

Soon, everyone but Bawky was there. David, Richard, Beth, and Jon, my aunt and uncles came with my cousins. We were together constantly, around tables and living room couches. Feelings were present but silent, they soaked up oxygen and seeped into floorboards and picture frames when no one was watching but me. Every feeling was there, except for Bawky’s. Everywhere people were talking; they kept asking why, shaking their heads, and rubbing their temples. Mama stayed quiet, she whispered her thoughts to him. I could see that she was somewhere else. I couldn’t grasp much else, though. I was small and they were big, and I couldn’t understand.

I sat outside a white building with Daddy, his hair was long and his pretty eyes were big and sad. Mama wanted me to go inside to say goodbye, but, I was scared. Daddy had said that Uncle Bawky wasn’t going to be buried in a cemetery because he wanted his body to be cremated. I didn’t want to watch them burn my uncle into little pieces. Why did everyone want to watch him burn into pieces? I thought that Daddy was scared too, and that must’ve been why he sat outside with me; we were not doing a good job of taking care of Mama. We were, however, protecting each other from burning flesh, broken, battered Mama, and an army of black-laden demons, reaching to hug me and take me from Daddy.

Nanny kissed me on the cheek as she was leaving; her little, shriveled lips left a coral stain on me. I knew she used that lipstick as her blush too, and I believed this was a secret
between the two of us. She told me, “I love you to pieces Dolly Baby.” Papa said it too, and squeezed me with more strength then I’d ever felt.

I realized that Mama had loved her brother to pieces, and when he killed himself, he broke her into pieces. I saw my Mama quietly crumbling all over the place; she thought nobody could see her pieces. I saw Daddy trying to put jagged pieces back into dark, painful places. Mama was covered in dark holes and we were trying to fill her up with light, sharp glass. I remember fighting and yelling through many nights. I remember Daddy’s toothbrush in his blue truck and Mommy’s bloodshot eyes. However, one day Mama woke up with sun in her face, and she was a whole Mama again; we were a whole family, again. I missed my uncle memories and she missed her brother more. But we had each other and Daddy and many rounded pieces of love.





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