The temperature has dropped. Coldness sneaks into my bones, nestling deep inside old wounds. It lights scars a deep purple, forcing me to seek out some warmth.
The warmth of coffee. Or soup.
But the coldness lingers within, sending shivers down my soul. I search memories and stories, hoping in some way to set my soul on fire.
My mother, may she be resting in peace, never failed to remind me of a promise I made as a child to build us a house painted a beautiful green and purple. Our favorite colors. I can’t remember when I made the promise to her. Maybe it was when we slept in the car or when our apartment aways had the door open to ‘borrow’ electricity from our neighbor via extension cord. It could have been when we shared a room together in my brother’s house or the other half a dozen times the roof over our head only provided a fleeting sense of security.
Sixteen and brimming with angst and depression, I railed against my mom for a life she had been absent from. Having barely seen her since I was eight, sixteen was the cusp. That point in my life, I had spent eight years with my mother and eight years without. The next day, I would board a plane and the balance would finally unravel. I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d see her. I just knew from that point forward, she would have spent more of my life as a stranger than as a mother.
It seemed a weird time for her to bring up the house I promised to build nearly a decade ago. I’ve spent years analyzing the words she said on that night. Closing my eyes, I bring myself back into her arms in those moments when she hugged me and I fought with every inch of me not to break away and let my pain consume me. As I slowly broke down, falling into her embrace in ugly sobs, she held me and talked about the purple and green house.
Through the years, she’d bring up the house whenever conversations settled into awkward silence. She’d remind me to look up to the stars at night and share a moment of staring at the night’s sky with her. To seek out Orion and be reminded we are both in that moment together.
As the news of her passing reverberated through my head, I kept being brought back to that night. In her arms sobbing. Being reminded of a beautiful green and purple home.
Shortly before the family solemnly gathered to put a complicated woman to rest, I inked the promise on my skin. With my mother gone, I never wanted a chance to forget our covenant.
It was never just a house we held on to. The house was a home. A sense of security. The future. The house reminded us both the journey wasn’t over. Even when I got lost in my teens and early twenties, I held on to the notion.
I am reminded on dark, cold, days of a promise I made as a child. To build something special out of love. Even with my mom gone two years now, I am reminded of the promise of a tomorrow that provides what today could not.
Briton “Punk Rock Papa” Underwood