Opening The Slammed Door

Imperfect Prose with Emily take a look you will be blessed.

It is strange what one forgets, and what one chooses to remember, like sifting fresh milk for cream, the liquid falls through while the thick cream remains at the top, tart and strong, ready to be used for another purpose. It has been over 30 years since her death, though the memories of my mother are faded, they are also frequent. Her brief life a constant reminder to me of life’s frailties, for I lost her long before her death to mental illness.
Being a child I was ignorant to the lack of normality in our lives. All I had known was seclusion and her fits from grandeur to gloom and despair. And though I can no longer recall her voice, I can still hear her words, and feel her silences, like echoes from a deep canyon.
Ever since I was grown with a child of my own, I have been all the more aware of the oddity of that time and the vacancy of the relationship I had with her. I had spent many of my younger years hating her for the way she was, and holding on to the bad memories like a shooting gun. It wasn’t until I was an older adult facing my own mistakes and weaknesses , that I came to better understand the frailties of her illness, and how in that time of less awareness, she was left helpless to succumb to its affects. How different her life might have been with help and the right medication.
The last time I saw her, I was nine years old. It was my first day of fourth grade. I do not recall anything about school that day, I can only remember she had been very ill and ended up in the hospital while I was gone. My father picked me up early and took me to her. I recollect feeling the usual sick in my heart feeling I would experience when she was admitted. Uncertainty has a grip that can shake you like a mixed drink, and it doesn’t let go until its drunk. It is a sensation that one never gets used to.
That day has been relived in my mind countless times. My brother, my dad, and I were all standing at the end of her hospital room, when suddenly something was very wrong. What happened before that moment, I could not tell you, but the rest I can see as if it were a new movie I just watched. She tensed up with a horrible gasp and then went limp. My father yelled for a nurse, and then it was mass confusion, just like on the movies. They rushed my brother and I out like cattle, to a waiting room that it felt like we spent the rest of my childhood in. Somehow, I ended up in the front lobby, where my father asked me if I wanted to go home or to Grandma’s house. My reply was simply a question, “is Mommy coming home?” He paused with a look of suffering that must have aged him 10 years, and then told me softly that she had passed away. Without even taking a moment to blink I chose Grandma’s house, and then calmly waited to leave. It took years for me to realize how unusual my reaction was, and come to terms with the bitterness I had towards her. Sometimes it is easier to hold on to the anger than to let go and deal with the loss of someone special.
Now I sit here at my desk sorting through the memories of what was and what should have been, contemplating my words, like the solutions to world peace. I don’t want to be remembered for my weaknesses, nor be the excuse for another’s, and I suppose my mother did not either. If I venture back to our old home near Milam Road, to the old metal swing set facing the west, I can recall a certain summer day as a very small child. I slipped from the swing, and in landing on the ground the metal seat came back and hit me in the head. I just sat there crying, until my mother quickly picked me up in her arms and rushed me inside, slamming the screen door behind us. She then hurried to put ice on my wound. I don’t know why it is one of the few good memories I have my relationship with her, but I do know it is worth holding on to and remembering over and over again.


  1. Hi Carrie, just read everything from the latest to here and was, despite the limited time available, unable to stop. And I am a tough critic. Can't understnd why you have not attracted more comments from your army of followers!

  2. Thank you Stafford I appreciate you taking the time to read so much of my blog. That makes my day! My comment button was messed up for a while, I think that is part of why so many posts have no comments. Hope you have a great Tuesday! :-)


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  4. Stunned. Wondering how you go on from a place like that in time and memory; knowing it's only by grace. Got some similar stuff kicking around in my head and heart, not really ready to write about it yet. Someday I will. May God redeem these painful memories (and the bittersweet ones, too) as you offer your words to Him. Blessings.

  5. those are memories worth holding onto...i used to carry a lot of anger and resentment toward my sister...there were years we never spoke, or saw each other in the same room and never hugged...i am glad those walls were broken...

  6. Oh Carrie. That memory at the end, totally worth holding on to. Thank you for sharing this. You have such a beautiful heart.
    I just love your new header and that quote.

  7. i love, love, love how you transported me into your life and introduced me to your mama and papa and grandmama, and you did it with such tenderness... and the swing, tying it all together. friend, you and your comments and your posts are a gift to me. thank you so much for linking. xo

  8. my heart squeezed a little reading this. my parents and i are only now on the road to repatching/repairing/renewing our relationship. i know it is different than to never have a chance at it again, or to know her well this side of heaven, but those fears, those hurts, sometiems it's all i can do to keep them stuffed down. and yet reading this tonight made me thankful, too. you wrote beautifully about a subject that must be so challenging--the little girl and the mama all grown.

  9. I related to some of your memories...the feeling in the stomach visiting my mama in a mental hospital...I was in fourth grade. You captured the feeling exactly.
    My heart goes out to you as I read...

  10. Thank you so much everyone for your warm and caring comments on this was written quite a while back, and was hard for me to write. Imperfect Prose has been such a blessing to me...and i just love all the wonderful people i have met along the way. Thank you Emily for inviting me! :-)

  11. Hi! I'm new to Imperfect Prose, and I just have to say I love the title of your blog!

    And I'm amazed at how willingly and deeply you have opened up here. Thank you for sharing your story - I admire so much people like you who have such good clear memories of your childhood. I can tell it gives you a depth and clarity both!

  12. Your transparency and your gift of writing inspire me.

  13. thank you for writing. my mother struggled with depression for much of my growing up years. although God has done a marvelous work in her life and restored our relationship, i still sift through those memories. i'm slowly able to examine, process and forgive those broken pieces of my childhood, but it is a long process. thank you for being so honest. finding those who have been there is life-giving to me.

  14. I just read a devotional today that talked about how important it is to grieve and face the pain of forgiving and how they go together and seeing our own vulnerability. You caught that well in saying "It wasn’t until I was an older adult facing my own mistakes and weaknesses , that I came to better understand the frailties of her illness, and how in that time of less awareness, she was left helpless to succumb to its affects." The memory of your mother comforting you is a good one to hold onto!

  15. Carrie, this is very moving. My daughter has bipolar, and her kids have had a very hard life, so I understand. I also understand the calmness 2with which you reacted to your mother's death, as I was the same when my father died. I knew that the violence and night terrors were finally over. I am so glad you remember this happy memory - your mother did love you, as best she could with the illness she had. It is a wonder we all grow up to become as wise and compassionate as we do....but I am grateful that we do. This was a courageous piece you wrote and I just wanted to say I appreciate having read it.


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