Well it didn’t take long for us to begin arguing about how I should spend my time. I wanted to spend it in Rome, dying and selling beads. She wanted me to spend it returning with her to the United States, going through rounds and rounds of cancer treatment, and living with her and my dad. We couldn’t find a common ground and I didn’t have the energy to maintain the discussion.


My dad hadn’t come with her. It took me four days to ask why not.


Well, she told me, he’s furious. He thinks I abandoned him (which I did) and was, in turn, abandoning me to teach me a lesson. Dads are so emotionally stubborn. He’ll come around, she kept reminding me. But only if I return home with her and show him that I’m real. He’s an attorney at and works to protect injured people from the cruel justice system. So I never understood how he worked so hard to protect strangers but allowed me to float into and out of his live like a specter.


I guess the irony mostly lies in how soon I’ll be a specter (at best).


Well I’ve been hosting my ma for the last two weeks and I’m so tired and frail and happy that she really exists! I understand that I “ran away from my problems” and I understand that was selfish to leave my family out of my grief process, but I needed the time. And I guess part of me knew while I was there that she would be here when I needed her to be.


My mom emailed to say she was coming to Rome and if I didn’t tell her how to find me, she’d wander the streets screaming my name until I popped out of some doorway somewhere. I couldn’t live with the mental picture of my cute old mom LOOKING for me. It reminded me of a time when 6-year old me lost her in a grocery store and asked a staff member to find her. She must have been terrified then and I wasn’t even dying yet! Not in any direct, literal way, anyway.


So I gave her my address and laid in bed waiting. When I heard her ringing the bell, all of my emotions busted out through my face and I answered the door (after the eight minutes it took me to get down there) and saw all over her face, immediately upon opening the door, how terrible I looked. Sure, I was wearing lots of beautiful little beads and baubles and FELT beautiful, but goddamn I didn’t look it. She looked terrified.


I feel fine. I feel fine. I kept telling her how fine I feel.


She was not convinced.