It was hard to forget how scared she was. My mother.
She was always a pillar of strength and confidence. A single mother raising her boy without any help, even if it meant working three jobs. It was hard not to admire her — her work ethic, her determination, her convictions — even if we rarely saw eye to eye on many things. My mother did everything she could to make sure I was taken care of.
My onset of Diabetes when hitting my teen years wasn't part of the plan, in fact it often confused her, but she never once made me feel like a burden. I did plenty of that myself. I know that while she may have never expressed any grievances, the costs of my continued treatments were both stressful and exhausting. Especially when I refused to accept that a healthier lifestyle change was necessary if I wanted to avoid further complications. Regardless, my mother allowed me to make my own choices and learn from my own mistakes. Her special little boy would learn the hard way if he must.
And special I was, I'd later discover. Special must run in the family.
I'm guessing this factor played a larger role in her paranoia, or what I believed to be her irrational ramblings. Whatever she believed was taking place the night we fled, it had seemed that nervous tick had been cranked up full throttle. I remember fighting tooth and nail, not wanting to leave everything behind. My school, my friends, Nicky. Abandon the things and people that I loved? Because my mother was delusional? It didn't make any sense.
I argued and pleaded, shouted and cried, but she wouldn't be deterred. She claimed our lives were in danger and with how she had burst through the front door, drenched with a crazed look in her eyes, you'd think an alien invasion had just taken place. Aliens I could have handled, though. Packing a single bag with plans of completely uprooting our lives, starting over, was not. I tried to reason with her, but I knew her fear was real.
Just go along with it I told myself. Just for the night. My mother, for all intensive purposes, was having a psychotic breakdown. She needed help. Help I couldn't get at that moment, but in the morning, once calmed, I'd be able to.
I recall the storm raging overhead, a deluge from the Heavens, as we sped across the countryside to an unknown destination. Her driving was reckless, claiming we were being followed, regardless of my observations of no such thing. My idea of humoring her mental episode was turning out to be not such a great idea. Still learning lessons the hard way.
My mother kept going on about how I was special and that I had to basically cut everyone off from my life. Not only for my own safety, but for theirs as well. Trust no one. I recall thinking that perhaps she thought she was an international spy, disavowed and left for dead by the government, but upon finding her alive would stop at nothing to take her out. She knew too much.
I remember the flash illuminating the darkness and assuming lightning had struck. Until the car shook, being hit from behind. Being distracted by her own ranting, the force was enough for my mother to lose control of the car. The rest is always in snippets. The car swerving into the ditch at full speed. The slamming into a tree, a dead stop, except for my ejection through the air.
I remember coming to, uncertain of how long had passed. The car was ablaze and I couldn't muster the strength to move. Panic set in, but I couldn't find my voice.
I'll never forget the smell of burning hair and flesh. The realization that my mother was dying or dead, and I couldn't save her. I couldn't even be by her side, as she had been by mine since birth.
I'll never forget the shadowy figure that stepped into the light of the fire, the glint of metal in his hand.
And I'll never forget the words my mother spoke to me, soon after that man was dead.
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