Coronavirus Coming For My Mom

Black Power Mom

I rarely speak about my mom anymore because there is nothing left to say.

The woman who defined Black Power is powerless. We lived in Oakland but traveled to LA frequently to see family and her musician friends.

I was about 6 when paranoid schizophrenia came for her brilliant brain. I was 9 when a dine and dash scam in Los Angeles landed me in my first group home. We were ripped apart as a two person homeless-ish family unit.

My only concern was my mother’s safety. I knew that I had the resilience to jump 20 feet like a cat, and get away from trouble. My dad, his family, and my mom’s family would take me in anytime.

I wasn’t even 10, and I wondered who would take advantage of the single cocoa bombshell. Who would hurt her after she scammed them for groceries and gas? Who would rape her if I wasn’t around to give them the evil eye of a mighty child who will happily kill you in your sleep?

Between 10 and 20, she was lost to me almost completely. Separated by cities, the degradation of her mental health, and ignorance about how to help someone who is losing their mind. She made her way back to Oakland but never back to me. My dad banned contact after she tried to kidnap me.

In my 30’s, another illness came for her body. There was no hope. Mentally, her baseline was set. There was no cure for any of her ailments. Not one pill on the pharma block makes much of a difference to her mental wellness, blindness, or neurological disorder. So, I took her future into my hands. I wanted to protect her from herself. Before my 40th birthday, I became her legal guardian.

I love and resent her. I wish that she was here. Not here, but not here. Just here. At her clearest, she’s a paranoid delusional person. She speaks about certain years of her youth with an almost smile.

But if I try to engage in contemporary dialogue… Paranoia. Paranoia. Paranoia. Some of it is so hurtful that I try not to let it reach my soul. She doesn’t know anything about me. She’s my first love, and the most emotionally unavailable person I know.

She has been in assisted living in Los Angeles for years. On feeding tubes and mumbling words into sentences. And sleeping. Sleeping. Sleeping.

Now, this collective illness called coronavirus is coming for her. I don’t want her to die. The child in me is always trying to restart her clock so I can get more quality years. The adult in me who accepts mortality doesn’t want her to die alone in this shit show. There’s no ICU beds.

Before coronavirus, I couldn’t call her. Her mobility and balance are things of the past. If I try to get them to give her the phone right now, the PPE gets in the way. So, the only way that I can try to be there for her is literally if she’s dying. Then, some angel nurse figures out how I can Facetime goodbye.

Even though she hasn’t parented me since I was 9, I’m not ready.



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