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The Day I Grew Up

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“Is your mother going to see tonight’s performance?” I look up from my reflection in the mirror and stare into the girl’s dull, brown eyes. I swallow hard and try to keep my eyes from getting moist; the make-up artist would kill me if she’d have to do my eyes again.
“Ehm, no. She’s busy,” I try to sound as chirpy as possible and add a lame, little twitch of my lips.
“That’s such a shame,” her words suggest pity, but I can hear in her tone that she really is not bothered.
“It really is,” I say more to myself than to her.

I’ve done the right thing by not telling her the entire truth. It is clear that she, like many others, does not really care and thus does not deserve hearing the truth. I stare at my reflection again and wonder if my mother would recognize me after all these years. Not now, of course, I mean; I can barely recognize myself with my costume make-up. But if I were not wearing any make-up, would she still be able to pick me out of a crowd and say, “That’s my little girl.”

I’m not little anymore and I consider myself more as a woman than a girl, but I guess you’ll always stay little in the minds of your parents. I can remember what it was like being little, and it felt a hell lot different than now. It was a happier, lighter part of my life and I can still remember the day that changed so vividly.

I was nine and I did not have a single care in the world. It was the Friday before the Spring break and I was attending my weekly badminton lesson together with my friend Michaela. After the lesson her mother would bring the both of us to our friend, Ellie’s slumber party. Michaela and I had never been to a slumber party before so, instead of badminton, we spent the entire hour chatting excitedly. But all excitement faded when my oldest sister, Elise, entered the room.

Elise was five years older than I was and so she went to ‘a big person’ school. It was the first time she’d ever set foot in my school and I was utterly confused. I walked towards her, trying to dodge all the uncontrolled shuttles.
“Mama wants to see us,” she said when I was standing right in front of her.
“But I have to go to Ellie’s slumber party,” I protest and I can feel my eyes stinging with tears.
“Come on Lynn, Carmen is waiting with the car outside to drive us,” she said as she looked around at the turned heads. It wasn’t fair! I wanted to go to my very first slumber party not to some dull hospital that smelled of disinfectant. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and people were staring. Elise grabbed my hand and dragged me towards the car, where a family friend was waiting for us.

The entire car ride I was sulking and crying. Elise tried cheering me up by giving me a new Barbie movie as a present. It worked. I stopped crying, but I was still mad. We had to make a detour, to pick up my other sister, Lotte, from her friend’s house; she was also going to have a slumber party, but she made less of a scene when Elise told her where we were going.

We arrived at the Hospital’s garage, where I saw my father waiting for us at the entrance door. We stepped out of the car and he started walking towards us. He showed us the way to our mother’s room in silence and we followed loyally. I was still moping inside my head, but I had promised myself I would not let my mood show to my mother. I would be cheerful when I saw her, because she was always cheerful when she saw us and she was most likely not truly happy herself.

We entered the compartment between the hallway and my mother’s room. The blindfolds were shut and it was dark inside her room. Great- I thought; we were finally here and now she was sleeping.
“Girls, today something horrible happened,” my father paused as he in- and exhaled, “Mama has passed away.”

I was waiting for him to start laughing and tell us he was joking, but he didn’t. I looked my father in the eyes and he was crying. My daddy, the one who had promised to always protect me, the one who I believed to be invincible, was crying. I realized, no one in their right mind would joke about something so serious. For the second time today my eyes started fogging up and tears painted my face. Only this time they were genuine. This time they were not to make people feel sorry for me or to make people feel guilty. This time I was not in control over my tears.

The three of us buried our faces in our father’s chest as he wrapped his protective arms around us like a blanket.
“Do you want to go see her?” he asked and I could hear his voice crack. He was being so brave for us. How hard must it have been to confront your three daughters with such terrible news and still portray such strength?

He opened the door to my mother’s room and I thought I was having a nightmare. Everything seemed so surreal. There she was, my mother, my guardian angle, pale and motionless; she could have been sleeping. I neared the bed she was lying on and flung my arms over her body. Maybe she’d wake up by the feel of my touch. Alas this was not a nightmare. Nightmares frighten you into facing possible situations. In a nightmare my mother would wake up at the end of the dream and I would be wary of losing her in real life. But this was real. She did not wake up.

“Lynn, we’re starting in ten minutes, come on stage,” the director shouted at me.
“Coming!” I yell back as I stand up and hear the clicks of my heels hitting the floor as I walk towards the stage. I take my place and look at the chairs, which will soon be filled by the crowd. A slight smile forms on my face as I realize my mother has the best seat there is.



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