I have a mole underneath my lip. A tiny birthmark, almost too small to see. When I look at it in the mirror, it reminds me of the mole that my mother also has below her lip.
Sitting at the hair salon on Saturday morning, I looked at it intently. Suddenly, I began to get upset. Have you ever been so upset that you can feel your upset-ness on the inside of your chest? That’s what happened. All sorts of emotions were set off, and I wasn't sure why.
My hair stylist asked how my little brother's birthday was. He turned 12 on February 13. We took him to the mall, gave him $50 to spend, and then went to a restaurant for dinner. The waiters and waitresses sang “Happy Birthday” over a sundae of brownie, vanilla ice cream, nuts, and whip cream covered in fudge, with a single lit candle to top it off. My brother caught his breath, made a wish, and blew out the candle.
Suddenly I knew why I was so upset when I thought about my mole. I am troubled when I look in my brother’s eyes and see him wishing for his mother, who has preferred drugs over him.
When I pick up my brother for the weekend, we just ride in the car in silence because I don't know what to say to him. Do I apologize for my mother's neglect and abandonment? Do I tell him that I know what it feels like to have a birthday and not get a call from mommy saying, “Happy Birthday”?
Sometimes, I wish I could remove all resemblance of my mother from my life. But then I could no longer look in the mirror.