"She might not have been the perfect mother, but there was always reason to her madness, always a desire to make me strong."
Perhaps it was only a child's way of disassociating, perhaps I somehow knew what was about to come, but as everyone rushed towards the two men on the front-lawn, one soon gone forever, the other, 25-to-life, I could see and hear nothing but the woman who was once my mom.
She might not have been the perfect mother, but there was always reason to her madness, always a desire to make me strong. I think of the time she put me in a straight-jacket and locked us both in the basement for two full days until I could get myself out. I think I may have been five.
We spent a lot of time together in that basement those final years. Classical piano music turned up beyond reason, always practicing for some unknowable danger only she could find. Escaping was a common theme in her world. Straight-jackets, handcuffs, rope, even the trunk of a car. If I could be bound by it, I'd need to earn my freedom every time. But, as she reminded perhaps a million times, escape is meaningless without the ability to be strong. Karate, wrestling, hand-to-hand combat, I had to learn it all. Baseball bats, knives, even broken bottles, like a well-trained assassin before I could even read or write.
And of course, guns. Always so many guns. A small-arms specialist in more ways than one. I can still see her now, disheveled hair and madness bursting from the eyes, hand on her own holster making me unholster mine, perhaps ten-thousand times.
“DO IT AGAIN JANE! HALF A SECOND COULD MEAN BOTH OUR LIVES JANE! DO YOU WANT TO DIE TODAY JANE? DO YOU WANT YOUR MOTHER TO DIE?”
No mother, I never wanted you to die.
And now I'm back here again, watching her stand in stunned silence, mouth forever muted at half-mast. For all his faults Ken had been through it all with her and I know that deep down below the darkness, she loved him as much as any broken person can. And now there he was, a final fruitless struggle and then...gone.
I search her eyes for something, but there's only damage and suffering to be found. I know what's coming the instant I see her gaze travel down. I immediately begin to run towards her, retracing the little footsteps in the ground.
And suddenly I can hear it again, piano music blaring, this time only inside my mind. I stop my wasted effort and watch her final dance. A tragic assassin ballerina, pirouetting away from the officer while stripping him of his loosely holstered gun. I search her eyes again, but still nothing to be found. She completes her turn and lifts the weapon to her mouth.
That's when she sees me, and that's when it finally comes. The look inside her eyes that I've been imprisoned by ever since she's been gone, the fear of knowing that, you too, are about to be forever gone.
Suddenly I hear the scream I've come to know so well as my aged father cries out in pain and stumbles to the ground. The final moment vanishes and all that's left behind is father, daughter and the light...