Life as a Canary, A Diary (Age 14) – Part 4
When George walks out on Mom a few months later, I dust off my hands and say to myself with relief and gladness “Well, that’s that. It’s finally over. Our family can get back to normal now. ” But then I sense how sad Mom is. I can’t stand it. I decide to help her.
All I have to do is convince George to come back. It will be easy. And who knows, I might even be my Mom’s hero. I sit down at my desk, pull out a sharp pencil, a sheet of notebook paper, and write:
My Dad doesn’t believe there’s a God. He says science doesn’t have any real proof. Mom says that’s why they call it believing, because you’re never going to have any real proof. But I think there is real proof—the proof is in people who have families they can count on. The proof is in people who love each other. And I think there’s a million other ways that proof of God might be seen. Like when two people decide to come together to fix what’s broken.
I think that God made human hands fit together because we’re meant to hold on to each other. If we were to speak with God, that would be just what me and Toni and Grandma and Mom would ask him for. Please come back.
I don’t know if my letter is the reason that George comes back. He never mentions it. He just shows up one day after work like he never disappeared. And he and Mom get along okay that way. Except when they don’t. And when they don’t get along, Mom says we kids have to try harder, do better, be more. And just so we don’t forget, she’s made some reminders, handwritten messages in blue ink on torn squares of lined paper, scotch taped on select places around the house.
“Do not leave this cupboard door open or George will bump his head”
“This TV remote control is for George only.”
“Do not throw away George’s car magazines.”
“Keep porch light on for George.”
“Keep Coke cold in fridge for George.”
I read the messages day in and day out, wondering why my Mom and George can’t just say out loud what they need to say and then be done with it. And of course I also wonder how my life would be different if my name were on those reminders rather than George’s.
As the year rolls on, Mom’s messages make their way beyond the painted kitchen cupboards, the felt covered furniture, and the aging electronics toward the bathroom tile, and down the hallway wall.
The peculiar pieces of paper creep closer and closer to me, Toni and Grandma’s bedrooms, telling, telling, telling us, hey you have to keep on top of another one of George’s needs.
My room is the only place I can escape the messages, so I spend more and more time here, under the covers, safely sandwiched in my bed. I want to come out of my room, but first I have to feel good about doing it.
When I’m alone in my room, I think about how passing time might make you look older on the outside, but it can’t guarantee any change on the inside. Just like crossed bridges don’t necessarily get you anywhere if they’re leading you around on a circular road. Nothing about life magically gets you anywhere on its own accord. You have to help it along.
So I fill my chest with air and dare to dream of something better for myself. I conjure up a crisp picture, filling it with great details about how I want my life to look and feel way into the future—a time where the taped handwritten messages of my past have long since faded, gotten brittle and crumbled to dust, erasing any evidence of a stranger’s needs ever having been put before mine.
Excerpt from Help Is On Its Way – A True Story by Jenna Forrest
Part 4 | (Part 1)