I stared at the bottle in the medicine cabinet, barely noticing how badly my hands were trembling, how the bottle's label was beginning to blur beneath the sheen of sudden tears rising to my eyes. I knew, looking at the bottle, that it shouldn't be there at all. I had finished off my pills yesterday or the day before, and I had not replaced it. It shouldn't be there. It was there, I knew with sudden certainty, because Mary Rose wanted it to be, because she had placed it there. A message to send me, or perhaps, an order.

I stared at the bottle, thinking of Mary Rose on the floor, her eyes open, rolling back towards mine. Thinking of her calling for me, unable to get out the words loudly and clearly enough for me to hear. Thinking of her heart slowing, then stopping, of her kicking legs going still, covered with bruises that were never to heal. Thinking of her sticky hands never grasping out at me again, her shrill voice never to be used. Thinking of Mary Rose, and yet other thoughts, even more deeply buried, began to emerge as well.

Mary Rose, presenting me with a crayoned drawing of two stick figured women, with hearts drawn crookedly above their heads. Mary Rose, trying to burrow against me in a cuddle as I watched a movie in the living room. Mary Rose, singing happy birthday to me with complete sincerity before hugging me around the waist, her nose buried in my spine. Mary Rose, her eyes lit up, erupting into giggles as she watched her favorite television show with intent enjoyment. Mary Rose, reaching for my hand and swinging it as we walked through the front door, looking up at me and asking me if I loved her.

Mary Rose, telling me she loved me. And me, unable, always unable, to honestly respond.

Over time, even before she was dead, I had forgotten those memories, those moments, pushing them out of my mind until I didn't' see them even when they were occurring right in front of my eyes. I had forgotten them, forgotten my child, and everything that made her my child, the good and the bad both. I had not known, had not recognized my own daughter in whole, the beauty and the innocence, the goodness and joy that had been part of her just as much as the drudgery and the mortification, the anger and the strain, and in the end, it had been this as much as any medication that had killed her.

I had refused to see, refused to acknowledge the reasons to love my daughter, the reasons she deserved to live. And maybe it was for those reasons that Mary Rose could not truly die.

Staring at the bottle, I saw out the corner of my eye that there was a bottle of tequila as well, filled to the rim, sitting on the closed toilet tank to my right. And though I couldn't' see her, I could hear Mary Rose's voice behind me, felt her breath against my back as she spoke.

"I miss you, mommy…"

I bit the inside of my cheeks as my throat closed up, tears coming to my eyes, and I nodded, shutting them tightly as I tried not to let them overflow. And the truth was, if I was honest with myself, I missed her too. I had missed her, what I thought had not been part of her, even before she ever died.

Mary Rose's hand, tugging lightly at the back of my shirt, her voice closer now, somehow near my ear, though she could not have possibly stood so tall.

"I miss you, mommy…"

And I knew, somehow I knew what she wanted, exactly what I had to do. It was the right thing, the only thing, the only way to regain what I had lost, to make up for what I had done, to set right a wrong I had not even let myself understand had been committed, to understand what I had refused to see. I knew what I had to do, and so when I stepped forward, taking the Xanax bottle into my hands, the weight of it felt right and real and true. This was it, this was what I wanted, what I needed, and what Mary Rose needed to.

Sitting on bathroom floor, in exactly the same spot that Mary Rose had lay, all those weeks ago, I reached for the tequila bottle, uncapping it and taking a long swallow to start. It was with slow deliberation that I placed the first pill in my mouth and chewed thoroughly, washing it down with a swallow that burned from throat to stomach on the way down.

Somewhere around the sixth pill I began to really feel the difference, the shaking already running up my limbs, the sudden lightness to my body, as though it were on the verge of floating away. I felt it but it didn't matter, and even as I began to slump, nauseated, barely able to stay upright, it seemed right to me. Because even when I had to lie back, even when I felt the bottles spills their contents out my hands and scatter over the floor, I couldn't worry. Even then I could still hear Mary Rose close to me, her words softer and sweeter than I could ever recall in life.


And that was who I was, wasn't it? I had been wrong all this time, trying to separate myself, Teresa, from this, because in the end, that was who I was. In the end, all that really mattered, all that would really last, was being Mary Rose's mommy. And in the end, whether or not I wanted it, wasn't that the simple truth, the only thing that would be remembered and enduring, even after both our lives were gone?

The end