Sunday, October 3, 2010

What and When

Today, two uniformed officers escorted my cousin Pearl to her mother's apartment so she could pack up her things. The home attendant called to let me know, and I went over there mostly to be there for my aunt, but also because I wanted to see my cousin, wanted to look in her eyes and gauge how much fight she still had in her. I was hoping to see some fight left, because over these next weeks she will have to recreate her life almost from scratch. Pearl was in her room, throwing clothes into a suitcase. She looked scared. For perhaps the first time in her life, her actions had consequences she couldn't manage to bend to her will.

I said, "How are you?" and she said, "I don't know what the hell is happening." And she started to sob. I put my arms around her and hugged her. I didn't want her to feel completely abandoned. She held on and cried for a minute on my shoulder, and then she pulled away, and said, "Well, anyway, you have my cell number." She turned back to balling up clothes and throwing them into the suitcase and that's when I saw she still had plenty of fight.

My aunt sat in her usual chair in her room, her brow furrowed as if she couldn't quite figure out why there were two police officers in her hallway. I kissed her forehead and she said something I couldn't make out. I gathered from the way she thrust a pile of envelopes at me that she wanted me to attend to whatever business was contained in them. "I'll take care of it," I told her. "Don't worry." She remained fiercely focused on the mail, mumbling intently but unintelligibly about it. I assured her as best I could, thinking this must be her way of dealing with her daughter's departure.

The home attendant, a gentle yet tough Jamaican woman for whom I am so very grateful, suggested we tell my aunt that Pearl was going into rehab, to make things easier for her. I didn't know what to think about that. For some reason, my spirit resisted the suggestion. But my aunt wasn't asking anything about the uniformed officers right then so I took the coward's way out and didn't try to explain. 


  1. oh, my heart aches for you and your family. i just finished catching up on the post ball posts, and truly your heart is aflame.

    prayers that pearl finds peace, your aunt is safe and that the "good" things will always outweigh the "bad"

    and on a happy note happy 19th birthday to your beloved son!!

  2. I don't think you were being a chicken. Just offering everyone the room for grace.

  3. Thank you, mouse and deb, for your kindness and concern.

  4. I hope that things are going to get better now for Pearl and your aunt, and for your whole family so upset by this awful situation.

  5. ellen, a fragile kind of calm is settling over the household...


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