Millie (Explaining Mama)

The thing about broken people is that they don’t need OUR forgiveness. They need their own. There is a big misconception about all of that. My mama was not a bad person, not a bad mother. I know what you are thinking.

My mama was just a broken person.

When my dad left us – the mirror that was her heart, began chipping away piece by piece. It didn’t hurt me and my brother so much, as we were used to him being at the outfield fence of our lives. But it broke her. And then when my grandmother died her heart shattered into a million pieces leaving millions of tiny shards of glass everywhere around us that were impossible to piece back together.

The problem when mirrors break, is that no matter how much you try to vacuum up the slivers of glass, or sweep them away – even days, weeks, or months later – you will still cut your foot simply walking through the kitchen on a lone splinter you missed. And that’s what it was like with mama.

Just when I thought everything was going great, that things were getting better, I would step on a shard of glass and find myself bleeding.

My only bandaid was softball. Aside from my brother and my sisters, softball was what stopped the bleeding. Or at least, made me forget about it long enough for the blood to clot. I think that is why Mama let me do it.

It is not up to me, (or you reading this) to decide or judge my mama. She was just broken. When people break, you have to love all the pieces of them separately, as is, with their sharp corners and jagged edges. Because if you don’t you will end up staying angry for the rest of your life. And I couldn’t be angry. That was a decision I made very young.

Coach Mike knew my mom. He had grown up with her, went to Middle School and High School with her. He knew her when she was an RN in the NICU, vibrant and successful and beautiful. They grew up in the same neighborhood. Coach Mike knew my grandmother. Maybe that is why he kept an eye out for me, although if it were, he never said anything to make me uncomfortable. He never asked me what happened, or questioned whether things were okay at home. Maybe he knew the answers. But I liked to think that I was just so damn good at softball, that he loved having me on his team and that it had nothing to do with my mama, or her brokenness. But who really knows these things at 13…

The next couple weeks were a melody of practices with the new fall season starting up. My teammates were all giddy about high school tryouts coming up. Everyone was trying to up their game and was working hard. I was right there with them, stopping the bleeding. Our Rec League was no longer offering worthy opponents and the taste of Orlando’s competition had heightened the pallet of my teammates, the parents and Coach Mike….

“Millie, are you gonna tryout at school? Did you hear my dad is going to make us a REAL travel team, we are gonna get to go so many places – oh, I just cannot wait!!! Aren’t you so excited, GOD I can’t wait….Millie, it’s gonna be so fun!!!” Jenna was almost squealing… I looked over at my brother waiting for me to get done, collecting pebbles like they were seashells….

I just remember feeling like I had stepped on yet another lost sliver of glass, this one seasoned and sharp having traveled from the kitchen to my beloved softball field, that tore off the band-aid without mercy.

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