She lost her soul on the I.R. T! Part 3
Facing the things that made us fall apart
“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”- James Baldwin
God, Breaking the Chains of Depression & Confronting what ails us!
I welcomed War into my night that day. I shivered with fear and let my tears spill from the depths of my soul. He saw that my tiny apartment was a wreck, clothing all on the floor, ice cream containers, books about marketing and mental health. Sadness was all over the place and a man I hardly know saw me shattered. I sat away from him because I knew he formed all kinds of thoughts about me but I was sick of being alone. Depression is like being in jail for a crime you didn’t commit. Being locked in by your thought torturing and reminding you of how less of a person you are. It tainted my thoughts with an imbalance I did not ask for. War said nothing for about an hour, I put on a kettle of water for tea. I took the broom and swept the floors. I bagged up my sadness in a garbage bag, lit lavender incense and the kettle whistled.
He finally spoke, “Do you believe in God?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I know there is a higher power but let me be honest and say I don’t understand him. I can’t wrap my head around a spirit being the Omega and all of this calamity afflicting the world. I’m confused about God allowing good people to lose. The corruption in the church and nothing is sacred. How can I trust a Pastor who lies worse than a sinner? My father went from driving the train to ministering .”
He nodded his head, and I poured the water into the cups. I pulled out a box of assorted teas, honey, lemon, and Agave sugar. He chose the black tea, and I chose Matcha. We stir honey and lemon into it.
“I believe in God even with disappointments I know God is real. Like you, Rainbow I have these childhood traumas of being abused, watching my mother work so hard and it was never enough. I believe my father hated me and my family. God has blessed me. I have money, I have a business and I can help people with jobs. My father tried to kill me on all levels and I am here.”
He walked to the window and everyone is sitting on their stoop; the block is live, the kid's laughter and the teens listening to Cardi B. Life at the moment seems so simple. The clouds were forming, small raindrops hit the window and War took my hand and we watched people clear the stoop. The rain fell harder, and I cried like the rain. The overcast was I was getting my ass whipped by depression. I sniffled and I could feel his warm hands wipe away my tears. We had a bond because we met before; I didn’t have to hide that the gunshots my mother let off still rang in my ears.
“Every night after work I come home, bake a potato with sour cream, cheese, butter, pepper, and salt. I cook shrimp or chicken and a veggie. I eat and then I pray that I will not cry but like always I do. That dreams of my mother attempting to kill herself and accidentally killing my sister continues to replay. I begged God one day standing in the rain to heal me and he hasn’t. I’ve listened to every sermon, tithe, and no healing from that morning. I can’t understand how God can watch those calling out to him, faithful and still suffer. I’ve been faithful and I promise he has answered those wicked prayers more than mine. My sister Sky was innocent. She didn’t deserve to die at all. It hurts that he won’t answer the simplest prayers to not let her die, and he did. I asked him to fix my mother, and he didn’t. I’m sorry it is hard to understand but I have rights to have issues.” I shrugged and let go of his hand. He followed me as I walked over to the couch and sat.
“No, it is refreshing that you speak your truth.”
“It is difficult, believe me. You are a stranger but I feel like I can share my ugly world with you. I’m hurting War because my career is on point, I’m making money and to everyone, I am a super fucking woman. I am always saving people and no one not even God won’t make depression and the nightmares go away. My prayer is simply to release the dreams and depression.”
He sat next to me and folded his hands, I could see his biceps pulsating, his face had a tear. It was my turn to wipe away his. He leaned his head on my shoulder and he spoke.
“My father beat me in front of my friends for nothing. I sat trying to figure out why. In my mind, I did nothing wrong. Con Ed came and had shut our lights off. The same man who raised me to fix the problem and protect the family sat drinking all day versus playing the light bill. I heard my mother crying, so I took the twenty-five dollars I saved and bought bags of candy. I sold it to my friends at lunchtime and after school to ensure we had the lights turned back on. I took twenty-five dollars and triple my profits. I ran home and put the money in my mother’s hand. As a son, I was so proud to help my family. My father was in the room he lowered his head and said nothing. My mother hugged me and called me the man of the house. I stood with my chest puffed up because I did what my father couldn’t. Yet, my actions broke him more and made him hate me.”
War lifted his head and drank more of the tea. He continued,
“I went outside to play with my friends and sale more candy. My father followed me down the stairs, I could hear him pulled off his belt. I went into a circle of friends. I felt the belt strike my back. He switched from the belt to his fist. I kept calling God for him to stop. My mother ran in the street barefoot and pulled at him. My father smacked her to the ground. I felt a rage inside of me and I fought back to defend the honor of my mother. In the middle of the crowd, I went blow for blow with my father over my mother.” War put his face into his hands and took a deep sobbed. I placed my hand on his back and he continued,
“A big woman named Betty pulled out her switchblade and ran it across my father’s face. I knew God heard my cry. I was curled up in a ball and all I heard my father say was, ‘I’m the man of my household not him. He is the son and I am the man.’ I made my father embarrassed, but it was never my intent. I wanted to help. I took that beating with a badge of honor. Rainbow some things and traumas aren’t to break us but show us we survived this. At the time it seems like it, but that day I knew my calling. I understood that I was the man of the house and nothing my father did, his sins or shame stop me from being there for my mother.”
He leaned back on the couch and he took my hand into his.
“How do we fix the traumas of the past so it doesn’t keep chasing us or at least when it does we are not afraid?”
“We face it together. I go to his funeral and you visit your mother. Say the words we never said. We don’t go to belittle them life has broken them. I can not hear my father’s truth but I can forgive even though I will never get the apology. I have to forgive because I don’t want to love like him. I don’t want to hate the seeds that will come from my loins developing into my sons and daughters. I want nothing I love to ache because of me. I’m removing the hate to deal with the pain. I’ll go with you to visit your mother.”
I held the pillow close twisting it and that moment the phone rang. The facility my mother lived in number appeared. He and I looked hate told me, no but the desire to be free of what ails me said to answer the damn phone. My hands shook, I press the green key and I hear my mother's voice for the first time in five years.
“R-a-in-bow, my ba-by.” I was afraid to answer her, the woman who gave life was a stranger. I forgot how well she dressed. She always wore Elizabeth Taylor’s perfume. She made the best-baked potatoes stuffed with cheese, steak, shrimp and sour cream. She kept us so clean and pretty no matter how the droughts of life had crippled her.
“What broke you, Mama?” The question slipped without permission, but I needed to know.
“Mean people, a man who drove the train, and life. Please come see me, please.”
“I will come.”
“Do you promise me?”
“I promise. Saturday are visit days, right?”
“Yes, my baby!” I hung the phone, and I looked at War.
“Will you go with me?”
“Yes, if you promise to go with me to my father’s funeral.”
“Yes, and what are we doing?”
“Defeating what ails us and becoming a team. I told you I found my wife in you.”
“I’m not ready.”
“You are more than you’ll ever know.”
Visiting My Mother
War was in the driver’s seat, the BMW smelled like sandalwood, the sound of J. Cole blared through the radio. He wore a shirt with the words; I Make Money & History! His sneakers were black, green and red. The drive into Rockland County we said nothing. I preserved my words for my mother. He stopped in front of an old brick building; the walls were high and at the top was barbwire. A guard came to the window and directed where to park and get our visitor’s pass. I wanted to back out, run for the hills but I stepped out. I lost touch with how she looked. War took my hand because it was shaking.
“I’m here by your side the entire step of the way.”
“Healing and forgiveness, right?”
“Right. You can do this.” He kissed my lips, and we entered the building. We handed our identification, they took a picture of us and the words on the wrist band marked visitor in red letters.
The large white guard announced, “Don’t take this wrist band off or you can’t leave. Three doors to the left and it is a large room. Table 5, row 2.” I could hear my footsteps, the people in front of me chatted about a woman defecating on herself, a woman eating her own hair and never wanting to let the baby doll go. War was beside me, the hallway smelled like green alcohol. The two guards both white men looked over at my wrist and War. They pointed to the table where she sat.
My mother now in a wheelchair, a hundred pounds thinner and her hair was silver touching the center of her back. I walked towards her and said, “Mommy.” She turned her head and like a child in a toy store clapped her hands and yelled,
“Rainbow is here. My baby is here.” I wanted to hug her but bitterness took me down to rub the top of her hand. The scenario of my mother taking us to the train station replayed. The shots fire were loud in my head, my sister covered in blood, and my mother pulling the trigger again on herself kept looping repeatedly. I shook my head and sat across from her and War sat next to me.
“Hi. This is my friend War, Mommy.” She waved at him but kept looking at me.
“Where is Sky at, Rainbow? I miss her so much. That I.R.T took her away. The train killed her not me. Your daddy did it not me. That evil witch inside of me.” Her voice was like a child.
She continued, “God told me he bought her back, and she was with you. That is what God told me. Can you go get Sky for me please and thank you?”
My voice trembled with anger and sadness.
“She’s gone forever?” I snapped. War took my hand and whispered.
“She is not herself, baby. Forgive her.” I nodded my head and held back the tears.
“I made a mistake. I sorry, daughter Rainbow. I sorry Sky. The I.R.T stole my soul. Your daddy killed it. He hurt me. You told me I do nothing right, and it makes me sad. It is true.”
The side of her face sunken in, she wore a patch over her eye that was missing. It slurred her speech the medication and the damage from the gunshot wound. She pulled at her hair and sucked on her bottom lip.
“I’m sorry for saying those words to you.” My mother fiddled with her hands and then her hair. She blurted out,
“I want to go home. Take me home now, Rainbow. I want to go home, now.”
“Mommy, I can’t.”
She screamed at the top of her lungs and rolled her chair towards me and War. She swung at me and I moved back.
“You evil like your Daddy. I want to go home now! I want to go home now. I want to go home now.” The guards, the nurses and two doctors came towards us. My mother continued screaming, pulling at her hair and lunging at us.”
The white guard announced, “You have to go. We have to take care of her.”
My mother's voice became like a child again, “I promise to be good. I promise I will be good don’t make them leave. Puleese.”
I looked to War.
“I want to leave. I forgive her but I can’t see her like this. I want to leave now.”
My mother cried, the nurse gave her a shot, and she slumped into her chair. I walked away. I showed my wrist, my heart was seeking the mother I knew. I discovered she was sicker than before, and it is no fault of hers. Did the world break her? I exited the building ahead of War. He opened the door for me and tears fell. My mother was dead but living. I could become her a depressed, broken soul. I need help.
“I forgive her but I don’t want this mental health thing to have me like her. My mother was trying to save herself. I remember her praying like me at night to help her. Why didn’t God listen, War? No one can answer that question. I am so angry. My sister is dead. My mother is so gone mentally and my father is preaching on a pulpit like nothing never happen. It hurts and I am sorry!”
I picked up the phone and pressed the name Phony ass Pastor. It rang three times.
“Dad, I want a meeting.”
“I have a funeral tomorrow I am presiding over.”
“I want to know what happen the night before the shooting and the truth.”
“Let it go, Rainbow!”
“No, I want the truth, Dad. I deserve it what pushed her to the edge so I can save me? Give me the truth.”
“God has forgiven me and her.”
“What did he forgive you for?”
“Rainbow, I have the Holgerson’s funeral to prepare for. I love you and give it God as I have.”
He disconnected the call and War said, “Your father is the pastor presiding over my father’s funeral.”