“It hurts,” Kara says while tightening and releasing her hand. A few moments later, she stares down at her bleeding elbow.
“Suck it up, Buttercup,” her mother responds while washing the pots from last night’s dinner. She reaches for a towel and moves on to drying as the dishwasher hums in the background.
“Where did that saying come from? The Princess Bride?”
“Don’t know. But it seems appropriate given the level of whining you’re doing about it. Everyone falls. Get over it. Brush yourself off and move on. That’s what everyone else does.”
“Do they Mom? Does everyone? Because it seems like if the fall is too hard, and you hit your head or something, sometimes people don’t get up.”
Her mother blinks wildly as her hand stops wiping the speckles of water off the pot. “Are we still talking about the fall?”
Kara takes a deep breath in. Should she go down this road with Optimistic Momma to Buttercup? Sighing she says, “Sort of.”
“Listen Kara, everyone falls. Whether that’s literally, or figuratively. Just get back on the horse, or the bike. Or whatever, they say nowadays.”
“Really, Mom,” Kara responds. “What happens if I don’t want to? What happens if I’m tired of constantly falling down by tripping on a curb, slipping on ice, or someone, or something knocking me over.”
Her mother throws her towel in the dish drainer and places her hand on her hip. Lips twitching she says, “Lots of people have it worse than you, Kara. And everyone has their problems. They don’t act like you do.”
“How do you know? Did you ask them? Maybe they do complain, but no one’s listening!” Kara exclaims in a fit of exasperation. Her neck is stiff. Head throbs. Muscles all over her body ache from the jarring that she felt when she slipped on the icy driveway.
Quietness settles between them. “I think it’s ridiculous, Mom. There are all these books and movies out now that celebrate people being different. But what we still say is each person’s experience is the same. So, we say everyone has the same life. They don’t. They simply don’t. Some people live on the streets. Yeah, I know there are people that have it worse than me.” She stares at her mother for a few seconds, pauses and says, “But some people live in wealth their whole lives, stay married to the same person for fifty years, and die two days apart, as well! Everyone has different lives. And how they translate those life experiences are different too.”
“Well,” mom says with a huff. “What do you want me to say, Kara? That it’s terrible that you had a miscarriage, your husband left you shortly after, you lost your job because you had too many doctor’s appointments after, and your friend died at the same time?”
Kara blinks back the tears. Her mouth trembles.
Quietly, her mother says, “Boxers get back up whenever they get knocked down.”
“Not always. Too many hits can be fatal. They hit the right part of the body, and their life is over.” It’s a statement of fact. But there’s honesty there too.
Mom shifts uncomfortably. Eyes well up with water. She hesitates and nods at her only daughter saying, “I don’t want that to happen to you, Kara.”
Through tears, Kara says, “Me, neither Mom. I just need some time to heal.” There’s a pause and then she says, “And yes, it does help when you acknowledge I’ve had a shit time of it,” she says giggling.
Mom smiles through the tears, nods, and stretches out her hands while saying, “We didn’t do that in my day. I’m sorry. Come, here,” she says as she hugs her daughter.