Shattered Dreams: A Woman’s Test of Courage:
Chapter 4: Part 1
Mary-Belle wished she had a plate full of ham and eggs. She knew if she could have something to eat, she would have the energy to generate some heat in her body. Maybe she wouldn’t be found frozen stiff in her Walmart box if she could just have something to eat. Thinking of food made her think again of life with her mother. This time there was more stress from her mother not being well enough to work. She made a fried egg and toast for her mother for breakfast. She was so little; she didn’t know how to cook, but she tried. She had seen her mother cook lots of times. Thinking back to that time Mary-Belle was fortunate that she didn’t burn herself or burn the house down. Sometimes even when she was just a little bit of child she thought she was a grownup in a little girl’s body. The edges of the egg were crisp from cooking too long.
One day when her mother could walk with minimal assistance, little Mary-Belle helped her to the kitchen table where she had heated up a can of vegetable beef soup and make her some toast, and half an apple with peanut butter on it. It was a good supper, in her mind. Her mother tried eating, but kept falling asleep at the table.
“Is it not good, mommy?” Little Mary-Belle asked.
“Yes, honey, it’s good. Mommy is just too tired to eat.”
“But you have been in bed all day mommy. Are you still sleepy?”
Mary-Belle realized now that her mother was so sick that merely eating was exhausting her. She didn’t have the energy to chew. More often than not her eating was so exhausting that she fell asleep in her plate. Martha was terminally ill and there was nothing that little Mary-Belle could do about it all those years ago. She could have made all the best breakfasts and dinners, but they wouldn’t save her mother.
Mary-Bell fought the freezing temperature by conjuring up memories of better times. There were plenty of bad times; but there were also good times, warm times. Times when the sun warmed her skin. She conjured the heat from that long ago day. Almost imperceptibly, a hint of a smile tried to warm her face as Mary-Belle remembered a time that she and her mother had gone shopping. Her mom wore a hat over her new blonde hair. She was so pretty. They went shopping. Mary-Belle’s hair, yellow ribbon adorned ponytails bounced as she walked hand in hand with her mother in the warm, bright sunny Saturday. They wore matching flowery, pink and yellow sundresses that tied in little bows over their shoulders.
She played imaginary hop-scotch on the pristine sidewalk as her mother talked with a lady her mother knew on the street. She wished she had some chalk to draw the hop-scotch board on the sidewalk. It was more fun to hop-scotch on a real squares. She remembered herself as a little girl; she was so happy when her mom was healthy, but when she was sick, she learned quickly to stuff her feelings into the closet of her mind. She couldn’t be a child. She had to parent her terminally ill mother at the tender age of six.
To be continued