Beth wasn’t sure if she was thinking or speaking. She wished she was typing; she had so many stories to tell:
“So that’s how I ended my marriage to the only man who really did love me. Who loved the pilgrim soul in me. For the first ten years after my divorce I was sure I’d ended it because he was distant. For the next ten years I was sure I’d ended it because I was distant. Finally I realized I’d ended it because, in our strange and mystical way, we were closer to each other than either of us ever was to anyone else…either before or after our marriage. I’d ended it because it was the only way I could free myself of my constant, nagging fear that I was going to lose that closeness.”
Beth’s mind twisted and turned through even more complexities in her life, all of which were finally clear to her:
“Denial. Denial of what’s real, no matter how ugly, is your biggest enemy. If only I’d had the courage to stand firm and let those hard waves of truth wash over me, I could have found so many more coral reefs teaming with life’s treasures beneath those waves.”
Suddenly the memory of Beth’s mother surfaced from deep below the roiling waves of her subconscious: A woman she hadn’t thought about for years. A complex woman Beth had also separated herself from, supposedly because her mother was the consummate embarrassment and just too crude to be endured. But now a hard wave of truth hit and she realized it was because her mother had threatened Beth’s starry-eyed idealism with actual facts.
Equally suddenly, her long-estranged, and even longer-dead mother was standing in the center of the brightest light Beth had ever seen, beckoning toward her, saying something about it being time. Her words wafted toward Beth, warming her with long-lost memories of bedtime stories, yet swirling around and reverberating within her now in a refreshingly cool breeze.
“Def not woke! Dumbest effin’ stories I’ve ever heard!”
The pregnant teenager sharing her room. For a moment Beth’s eyes flickered open, and her heart reached out one last time to the world she suddenly felt so removed from. With every feeling Beth had ever felt, every memory, and every story she had ever had to tell, she wished this teenager well.
Then her eyes closed again and she could feel other things in her closing as well, a bit like dominoes falling. She grasped her mother’s outstretched hand, took a giant step into the cool light that now surrounded them both, and just…let go.
All the pain was, at last, gone.