It’s been almost ten years since I’ve felt safe.
That’s the word I use.
There’s a difference.
I don’t feel safe.
I feel as if I’m always on the ragged edge.
Just a few steps away from falling over.
I didn’t realize that losing my Mema would feel like this but it did.
I was safe with her.
But most of all, I was safe.
She was there.
I could go to her for anything, for everything.
She would fix it.
Make the beans and cornbread and tea.
The prune cake.
The perfect dress to fit my body.
She filled in the empty spaces.
Held me. Held on to my children. Held on tight.
I was safe.
When I was a little girl, 4 years old- fearless, hard headed, determined and mischievous.
I was handful and she was a master at handling me.
I was so sure that I could swim in the deep end of any pool. Never mind that I had never taken lessons. Never mind that I was the only one in the water most of the time. Never mind that Mema was afraid of the water.
I was not.
So Mema took a fishing pole, with a safety pin where the hook should be, and pinned it to the back of my bikini top
I would swim off as far as I wanted, way off into the deep end and if she saw me struggle, she would stand up and begin reeling me in.
Bringing me back to where I was safe.
I knew she would be there.
Watching. Ready. Always.
She was my lifeline.
I was safe.
Safe from the deep end.
Safe from the ragged edge.
Safe from being left behind.
Safe from mishaps and mistakes.
She was a dollar if I was shorthanded, a comfort when I was hurt, a ride when I was stuck, a way out and a way in.
She always wanted me.
I was never too much.
Never in the way.
Never a nuisance.
I was safe.
I’m not anymore.
I’m often too much.
Or not enough.
I don’t have anyone standing on the edge of the pool, watching me struggle, and reeling me in.
No one pulls me out.
I climb out myself.
I stand on the ragged edge, alone.
I feel just like I did when I was 4.
Fearless, hard-headed, determined and mischievous.
But there’s a huge difference.
I don’t have any safety net.
No fishing line.
It’s sink or swim.
Make it or break it.
I would love to feel safe again.
To look over my shoulder and see that I was being watched.
To know I had a place to land.
A dollar if I was short-handed. A slice of cake. A ride someplace. An open invitation. A way in and a way out.
But I don’t.
So instead I try to be the safe one for others.
A dollar when they are short-handed. A way in and a way out. A comfort. An open invitation.
I wish I could be more.
Maybe some day.
When I become safe again.
6 36 a.m