Mama understands that her daughter’s grief is more than a childish over-reaction to loss. The little girl needs her horse.
Scene 04: Mama’s Vigil
Standing by the front door, Mama glanced at her watch. Her girl had slept through lunch. She picked up the phone from the desk and canceled her hairdressing appointment. It could wait for another time, for when Karen got through her crisis. She needed to be here for her Krana Layala, when her daughter needed her the most. Grocery shopping could also wait. She would ask Kimberly’s mom to pick up some noshes to tide her and her girl over.
Before returning to her daughter’s room, she picked up the phone and dialed a friend at home. This was a friend who worked at city hall. She would know what was up.
“Betsy, it’s Katie. My Karen just got home from The Pier. She loves it. It’s everything to kids her age, but she said that the hippodrome had been shut down. Something about a hotel. Can you clue me in?”
“I’m sorry, Katie, but I’m the last person you should ask about this. I’m just a secretary and a nice Jewish girl. I don’t have any authority with the city.”
“Come on, Betsy, you can level with me…”
“I could get fired, Katie, but here’s the deal…”
Minutes later, Mama hung up the phone. She knew enough. And as a paralegal, she knew what she had to do.
Lugging a folding chair from the front closet, she set it up outside Kitten’s door and waited. She felt exhausted, herself, but wanted to be available to Kitten. However, she knew how fiercely her daughter felt about being independent, and didn’t want to provoke a reaction. Every few minutes, she opened the door and put the bed covers back over Karen, who kept throwing them off as nightmares haunted her dreams. When dinner time approached, Mama made a couple of sandwiches and reheated some leftover chicken matzo ball soup that she had made the night before and kept in the fridge.
As she carried a TV tray into Kitten’s room, she hoped that the aroma of the hot soup would awaken her daughter, but Karen did not respond, even when Mama fanned the soup’s vapors into her face.
“You can get through this challenge, too, honey,” she whispered, as she backed out of the room. “Challenges, just like wealth, come in many different disguises. It’s up to you to turn this one into a victory.”
Silently, she added, I hope you can pull yourself out of this. I’d hate to see you regress. You have come so far in such a short time, especially since you started walking to the carousel. I will be here when you reach out to me.
She sat on her folding chair with the TV tray balanced on her knees, ready to bring food to her daughter, should Karen wake up. Mama knew better than to dismiss Kitten’s agony over a simple amusement park ride. The situation was about more than a child’s naive disappointment. It was about a child’s development into an adult. Her Krana Layala needed the carousel and the special horse. Mama’s mind returned to the first year of Karen’s life, and she reminisced about the month she had spent sitting by her daughter’s hospital bed twelve years before.
Looking down at the food, she told herself that she would not nibble even one bite before bed—not even a nosh. But no sooner did she promise herself that she would not eat, than did she take one bite and then another to soothe her uneasy feelings. The evening passed, and she watched helplessly as, one tiny bite at a time, she ate both sandwiches and both bowls of soup.
After setting the tray on the floor, she tried to find a comfortable position on the folding chair. The chair was more uncomfortable than the hospital chair had been after her Krana Layala had been stricken, and she was twelve years older herself. She tried to tell herself that it was okay to eat all the food, but now guilt gripped her.
When she awoke, the clock in her bedroom read four. It was Sunday morning. She peeked in at Kitten and straightened the covers. Before collapsing into her own bed, she returned the TV tray to the kitchen and the folding chair to the hall closet. The last thing she needed was to have Kitten trip and fall over one of them.
©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.