Blogging The Harper Way 2: Christmas (Chapter 2)
Hello again, my beauties! Is it happening? Is everybody okay? Alright! Well, I'm about to fucking ruin that, man. No mercy, no remorse!
I know, I know; "But Elizabeth, you titled this post 'Christmas'! Surely you're no Scrooge!" you say. And I say you're correct! I love Christmas. I love spending time with as many of my loved ones as possible. I love seeing my kid's face light up when we go pick out our tree. I love decorating it with her. I love packing the bottom of it with gifts on Christmas Eve and doling them out the next day. I love making a huge dinner, and I look forward to doing it all over again pretty much every year.
No, I'm absolutely not a Scrooge, nor am I a Grinch.
However, that doesn't mean Christmas has always been great. As a matter of fact, there've been a few of them that I wish never fucking happened at all (or happened very differently), and they're what I'm going to talk about today. Why? Because they're on my mind every single year, and as such, I feel like I have a fairly unique window into what the Grinches of the world are thinking or feeling. I also feel like more people need to understand exactly why someone might not be filled to the brim with Christmas cheer.
My first five Christmases, though I only remember a couple of them, were absolutely, positively filled to the brim with Christmas cheer of the highest order. Mom was such a huge Christmas dork, both for religious and totally secular reasons. Every Christmas Eve, as my Dad will attest, Mom would scoop me up into her lap and read to me the story of the birth of Christ, then she'd read me "T'was The Night Before Christmas", as we curled up in her favorite chair, Christmas music playing on the stereo.
Her favorite was Bing Crosby and David Bowie's version of "The Little Drummer Boy", and she'd always get choked up when Bowie's "peace of Earth" part started. As for me, I'd usually fall asleep well before she finished reading, but she'd stick with it 'til the stories were done, then her and Dad would take me up to my room and tuck me in.
Then, on Christmas morning, without fail, every year, Dad would stand in the doorway, wearing a Santa hat as Mom would sneak into my room, wearing a pair of plush reindeer antlers. She'd then crouch down beside my bed, making these, like, little chittering and rustling sounds until I got up, acting as though a real deer'd somehow gotten into my room (which, yes, I now do as well - I likes me some goofy traditions, okay?). When she was certain I was awake, she'd squeal "MERRY CHRISTMAS LIBBYYYYY!" and hold her arms out for a hug, which, of course, I always gleefully gave.
I was totally Mom's little hug torpedo, ya' know?
After that, still squeezing the life outta me, she'd carry me over to Dad and pass me off to him for Christmas hugs. Then I'd climb up behind him and wrap my arms around his neck as we all made our way down the stairs to open presents. Now, my parents never put presents out before Christmas Eve. Period. I know this because, as every Christmas-celebrating kid on the planet does, I'd snoop around the house to find them. I never did though. Not once. Why? Because Mom fucking kept them in her office at work until about a week before Christmas, then she'd move them to her Mom's place until Christmas Eve, when Dad would go out and get them (after I was already in bed, naturally).
And when I say Mom would keep them at her office, sometimes that would be nearly a year. She and Dad would Christmas shop all year rather than waiting to do it all in one go. Since they both had pretty demanding jobs, it just suited their schedules better to grab things as they went. And that didn't mean they'd never give me things during the year or anything. When I did well in school, or saved up enough allowance, I'd get to have cool stuff, just like anyone else. It merely meant they were always on the lookout for shit they thought might make for some good Christmassin'.
So, the year Mom was killed, there was one thing I wanted so bad I could've exploded; A fully-loaded art kit. I'm talking pencils, pens, erasers of all kinds, 75 high quality colored pencils, rulers, art paper... everything you could want for a budding art studio, it had in spades, and they were all built right in to an adjustable easel. High end stuff, too. No Crayola bullshit. Of course, none of that mattered to me. After all, experience is everything, and I knew that it was a great art set because Mom had one in her home office, and she'd let me use it now and then. I mean, I'm sure she'd've let me use it all the time if I asked, but I knew it was, like, special special, ya' know?
She always said my Uncle Scott gave it to her on their first Christmas together as adults (which is not my story to tell), and since I never once met Uncle Scott (he died a short while before I was born), I knew even then that they weren't every day art supplies. Not for me, anyway. They were something Mom could use to feel close to her dearly-departed brother. I could make due with regular old kids stuff for my own every day art. I didn't want to waste hers.
However, every time we went to Jerry's (this super awesome art store in Greenwich Village - look 'em up and drool), I'd see the art kit and remember to beg Mom for it. And every time I'd ask, she'd say "Christmas is coming, Lib!", and that would be that. But, being a kid who understood what money was and how it worked (sorta), I knew that we could afford it. It was just that my parents went out of their way not to spoil me. They didn't want me to be one of those douchey, lifelong rich kids you see on TV and in the tabloids. They wanted me to be as normal a child as I possibly could be, and I'm thankful for that every day.
Back then, however, I was just bummed that I couldn't have the awesome thing, ya' know?
Anyway, Mom died in August, and at that time I'd been exiled to my Uncle Al's place in Seattle, where I ended up staying until college (in case you didn't know - see past entries*). I went back home for the funeral, but was only there for a couple days. After that, I didn't see Dad for almost two years. Well, I mean, we had those old video phones, and used them for a while (until he broke his in an alcohol-fueled mix of depression, loneliness, and rage), and there were pictures sent back and forth. So, I did see him, but I didn't see him in person, which was about the only thing I really fucking wanted.
Moving on, about a week before that Christmas, a package arrived from my Grandma Hillard However, I knew that it was actually from Dad. You see, we had this system with our mail correspondence (which stuck to everything sent between us pretty much the whole time we were apart). Mail always went through intermediaries, hopefully making it so the guy who was terrorizing us** wouldn't be able to find me, or would at least have to work for it. Beyond that, though, Dad would always put a little, red circle somewhere on the box, envelope, or whatever the hell he sent (I'd put a lilac-colored heart).
But I didn't even need to see the red circle to know the box was from Dad. Not only had I already received a package from Grandma, but I also had a damn good idea what was inside, and it was something only Dad would've known to send. As a matter of fact, the instant Aunt Sam presented the box to me (which was about my height at the time), I burst into tears and ran to my room. Just one fucking look, man. That was all it took. I wasn't a chicken-brained, idiot kid, ya' know? I could tell by the dimensions and the weight that this package was something very special.
It was the art kit. I was fucking sure of it.
I knew with all my heart that that was what was in that stupid box, and I just couldn't fucking deal. All I could think of was the last time Mom went to Jerry's. I was super pissed that she went without me, and kind of threw a fit like a dumb shit six year old (which I was, so at least I had a good excuse). She promised me right then and there that she would never, ever go to Jerry's without me again, and my Mom wasn't one to break a promise like that. Especially not to me. And I never went to Jerry's again. Not in her lifetime. Not ever.
So, ya' know, taking that in was super fucking hard. It was so hard, in fact, that I refused to open the package. When I finally calmed down enough to talk on the day it arrived, I told my Aunt Sam to put it somewhere safe until I could open it. That I just didn't feel like I could do it yet. She understood, and put it in her bedroom closet. For years.
Two, to be exact.
I didn't see Dad that that first Christmas, though I did talk to him. He asked me if I got my present, and I told him I did, and that I loved it, and that was that. He didn't go into any specifics, he just moved on. The following Christmas was the same. Though I'd opened every other piece of mail he sent me since the big package, even though some of them contained things of high sentimental value, I somehow didn't have a problem opening them, even though I kept the Christmas package out of mind. I think I was able to open the other stuff because the emotional wounds weren't quite as fresh. That and I just missed him so, so much, and I kind of felt like that was the only contact I was ever gonna have with him again, ya' know? Like, I felt as though I'd lost both parents and was trying to navigate that minefield the best I could, and effectively on my own.
Uncle Al wasn't pleased with that.
So, the third Christmas Dad and I would've been apart, Uncle Al decided enough was enough. He called my Dad three days before Christmas Eve, read him the fucking riot act, and told him that he was bringing me back home for Christmas, whether Dad liked it or not, and that he'd better pull himself together enough to see me, or he'd be sorry. I don't think I've ever heard Uncle Al sound so stern as he did that day. It was kinda scary, honestly, mostly because he was never that way.
That guy was pretty much always even-keeled.
Anyhoo, Uncle Al and I went out to NY alone. Aunt Sam said it had to be that way, and that she'd be with me in spirit. Then, she presented me with the package from her closet, saying "Now you can finally see what's inside.", punctuating with a kiss on my left cheek. She followed it up with a second kiss on the other cheek, and told me to make sure I gave that one to Dad for her, and to let him know that she loved him and wished him well. She then wished us well and sent us on our merry(ish) way to hop a plane.
When we arrived in New York, we were met at the airport by Detective Aaron Robinson - Dad's old partner. He and Dad'd had a pretty big falling out a while after Mom died, and for reasons that aren't mine to discuss. However, he kept acting as a mail intermediary, because he still loved Dad, and he still loved me. The instant he laid eyes on me, he grinned from ear to ear, tears in his eyes, and I ran right to him like there were no other people in the whole city.
I fucking adore that man.
"UNCLE DETECTIVE ROBINSON!" I bellowed, snot and tears leaking out of pretty much all of my head holes as I lunged at him for a hug.
"HEY POUND CAKE!" he roared, hoisting me up and giving me a bunch of quick kisses all over my face. "I missed ya, baby girl!"
"I m-- I missed you too!" I cried, burying my head in his shoulder as I wrapped my arms around his neck like a boa constrictor.
"C'mon, now. Lemmie have a look a'cha." he said, prying me off and holding me out like a baby. "Lookin' more an' more like y'r Momma ev'ryday, ain'cha?"
I nodded, sniffled, and changed the subject.
"Are you and Dad still fi--"
"I'm here f'r you." he choked. "Nothin's changed."
I wasn't remotely happy to hear that.
You see, Dad and Detective Robinson were close like brothers. They were partners going all the way back to their academy days. But, after Mom's murder... they had, as I said earlier, a falling out. Again, it's not really my place to go into the specifics, but it wasn't, at least in my mind, Detective Robinson's fault. Any more than that, ya' gotta ask them, and I'm sure they'd just assume forget it ever happened at all.
It's probably better that way.
So, anyhow, Detective Robinson took me and Uncle Albert to the place where Dad was staying. He hadn't sold our house yet, but he wasn't living there either. He couldn't. I mean, that's where Mom died, and it was a pretty fucking gruesome death. It's impossible to over stress that fact. So, he got a small apartment somewhat nearby. It was a rougher, darker part of town, but Dad was a rougher, darker version of himself, so it was probably the best place for him. I remember being really scared of the place, even though Uncle Al and Detective Robinson were with me.
But they both kept things light, downplaying the scariness as they walked me up three flights of stairs, and down a seemingly endless hallway to apartment number 338, where I immediately reached for the knob. However, my chaperones (is that the plural? I feel like it's not, but I'm too lazy to look it up) had other plans, and Uncle Al stopped me before I could even touch it.
"Liz, my darling, Aaron and I are going to get some coffee, okay?" he said, handing me the unopened package (they just left my bags in the car). "That way you can have your Dad all to yourself, sound good?"
"B-but don't you wanna see him too?" I pouted.
"Of course I do!" he quietly exclaimed. "I just want you to see him first."
I nodded and looked to Detective Robinson.
"You'll see me again b'fore y' leave, Pound Cake." he said, flashing me a wide grin.
"You promise?" I asked.
"I do." he insisted, still smiling from ear to ear. "Got some cool stuff f'r ya, sweetness."
"Okay!" I beamed.
"You can go ahead and knock." Uncle Al said, lightly pushing me forward. "He, uh... he'll be happy to see you."
As I reached up to knock, Uncle Al and Detective Robinson started down the hall, slowly creeping out of sight, but watching like hawks as they moved. Meanwhile, I felt like my little heart was gonna beat right outta my chest and follow them. I was scared. Trembling even. I mean, I know it was stupid, but I couldn't shake the thought "What if he doesn't love me anymore?" and it was totally holding me back.
I mean, it'd been two fucking years and some change since I saw him in person. Since I held his hand, or smelled his cologne. Since I rubbed my face in his full, prickly beard like a fucking weirdo. Since I got to give him any hugs or kisses... since I got to just have my fucking Daddy, ya' know? I had so many things I wanted to talk about with him, so many other things I knew he needed to hear. But now that he was just a knock away, I was at a rare loss for words.
However I sucked it up, made the tightest fist I could, and banged on door as hard as possible.
"GO AWAY." Dad barked.
It sounded like he was rooms away, but felt like miles. He was so harsh and detached. And I couldn't reply, nor could I do what he asked. All I had in me was another, harder knock.
"WHO IS IT?" he roared. There was momentum this time. He was at least moving toward the door.
"I-it's m... it's me." I struggled, barely able to muster more than a whispering whine. "E-Elizabeth."
"WHO'S OUT THERE, GODDAMN IT?" he raged.
Clearly he didn't hear me.
"I-it's... IT'S ELIZABETH!" I wailed.
The instant I found my voice, I heard an obscene amount of locks being undone, latches being flipped, bars being slid aside. The guy was obviously (understandably) super fucking paranoid. Then, the door opened so hard and so fast it looked like it was being ripped off the hinges, making me jump out of my boots. And there - after all that time, after all the nights I cried myself to sleep writing letters to him, after all the times I'd hugged my pillows, pretending they were him as I read his replies, after all the times I'd begged to see him - there was Dad.
He didn't say anything at first. He just dropped to his knees, pulled me into him like a vortex, and let out a heart-wrenching, painful, moaning cry. Every couple of moments he'd pull away and look me over from head to toe super fast, then lean back in and stroke my hair, or give me a kiss on the head. It was strange... but it was nice. Beyond nice. It was all I needed, ya' know? But he looked smaller to me. Mostly because I was almost a foot taller than the last time he'd seen me. The last time we were together. But, I could actually get my arms all the way around his waist, which was new and awesome, so I did that. I held on to the old bastard for dear life.
I mean, I knew I'd never get Mom back, but, for the first time since her funeral, I actually felt like I hadn't lost Dad. Like the man I knew was still in there. It was just easier for him to push me away when I was thousands of miles away, but when I was at arm's length? In person? Well, Dad's always been drawn to me like a magnet. I'm pretty much his favorite thing in the whole universe, and no-one can just completely shun their favorite thing in the whole universe.
Not even someone so thoroughly depressed as he was.
"H-hello, baby." Dad finally choked, pulling away again and cupping my whole head in his hands. "I-I miss y-- I miss you. S-so goddamn much."
"I m-miss you too." I whimpered.
Finally, it clicked with him that I was alone, and he looked down either side of the hallway - once, twice, and once again, before locking his gaze to my own.
"Who left you here?" he asked.
I was super fucking confused by the question.
After all, he and Uncle Al very memorably fought about my being brought out to New York. This, obviously, made me start worrying. I mean, what if his drinking was so bad he didn't actually remember the fight with Uncle Al? What if it was, like, just pickling his fucking brain and not just getting rid of the bad memories, but the good ones too? What if that was the whole point for him? A liquid lobotomy.
"Dad... I th-- Didn't ya' fight with Uncle Al about him bringin--"
"I know who brought you, goddamn it." he sighed, the rage still lingering on his face. "But where the hell is he?"
"Uncle Detective Robinson drove us here, a-and they're going out for coffee." I replied. "S-so we can have time together."
He looked like he was about to blow up, but then the package leaning against the wall beside the door caught his eye, which twitched a bit as he looked it over.
"Is that y-- Why haven't you opened it?" Dad asked, in a probably unintentionally over-accusatory, threatening tone.
I... well, I started to panic. I really, really thought I was about to get in big trouble or something, and seeing as New Dad was a lot harder than Old Dad (who was already a naturally gruff person), I had no idea how exactly he'd handle it, ya' know? In all of my life up to that point, he'd never once struck me. Not one fucking time. He believe that, if his change in tone wasn't enough to clue me into whatever I'd done wrong and correct the behavior, that he didn't have any business being a father.
But did New Dad have it in him?
With that thought (as well as about a billion others swirling around with it) plaguing my mind, I answered.
"B-because I didn't w-- I-I mean, I know what's in it, a-an--"
"I c-- I couldn't open it alone!" I cried.
"Your Uncle Al w--"
"No." I huffed.
"Yes, he's got y--"
"No!" I puffed.
"He's your legal guardi--"
"B-but, he's not y--"
"Now, goddamn it, Eliz--"
"I COULDN'T FUCKING OPEN IT WITHOUT YOU!" I wailed, blowing his house down. "I n-- I needed you. I n-need you..."
Dad just looked down at the floor a moment, then stood back up, grabbing the package, and stepping aside.
"Come inside." he sighed, his tone warming back up.
And I did just that.
His apartment... it was so fucking sad, ya' know? I looked around the living room, and there wasn't any real furniture to be seen, just a couple of folding chairs, a cheap desk and a bunch of bulletin boards, all of which seemed to be related to the case surrounding Mom's death. I started to go for them, hoping to get a better look at what he was doing, but that wasn't even kinda happening. My curiosity wasn't remotely rewarded.
"Elizabeth." he said, super stern.
I looked back at him, and he slowly shook his head, just once. Made me feel fucking microscopic. Of course, as was absolutely the order of the day, I started getting choked up and flustered. However, even at his most wet-brained, Dad was still Dad, and he decided for me that, if there had to be tears, they should be happy ones, if at all possible. To achieve them, he handed me the package he'd sent me two years prior.
"Open it." he said.
"O-okay!" I cheered, sucking it up, rubbing the tears around on my face (let's face it, they weren't going anywhere) and starting in on it.
"Carefully." he stressed. "Trust me."
I nodded and did as he said, gingerly removing the shipping tape and opening the box. Once that was put aside, the first thing that caught my eye was that the gift itself was wrapped in an art canvas, which was hand decorated with little nature designs - flowers, fruits, leaves, and stuff - along the border, clearly in my Mom's style. Drawn with her gentle, graceful, free flowing hand.
In the center of it, were drawings of Mom and I in our matching gardening outfits. They looked like Mom's college fashion drawings, which were equal parts sketchy and detailed. She'd dated the whole thing simply 'mid June - mid July, 1990'. I actually have the wrap framed and hung up in my bedroom now, right above my bed.
Finally, the tag, also in her handwriting, said "To Libby with love, from Mommy and Daddy.", and I just stared at it all a moment before I finally (very, very carefully) unwrapped it. In the package, just as I thought, was the art kit I'd begged for all those years ago, with a nice little card from Mom and Dad - featuring a cartoony, felt reindeer on the front - in which they each left a note, dated June 7th, 1990, the exact date of the last trip Mom took to Jerry's. The one I blew up about like, well, according to Mom, 'a little goober'.
Her note in the card said:
Even though you were being a little goober today, you're still the sweetest little girl I'll ever meet, and my favorite person in the whole wide world. I'm really very sorry I couldn't give this to you sooner, but I wanted yours to be as special to you as mine is to me. So, it had to be a Christmas present, okay?
SO MERRY CHRISTMAS! I LOVE YOU VERY, VERY MUCH! GO DRAW EVERYTHING YOUR LITTLE MITTS CAN HANDLE!
Before I really even got to let that hook sink in, I read the other note. Dad's note. His was a hell of a lot more terse (and could even be seen as a little mean if you didn't know him). All he said was:
"I told her not to let you have it at all.
Merry Christmas, you little brat.
You're lucky. I still might take it back.
As soon as I finished reading the card, my eyes wandered back to Mom's note. I read it again and again, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, like it was gonna disappear and I was never gonna get to read it again. I probably looked like I needed a reboot to anyone else, just gawking at that fucking card like doing so was the only thing keeping me alive... it was intense. I don't really know how to describe it. Like, I know it probably sounds stupid, but I really felt like it was Mom, ya' know? It felt like she was really there, however finitely. I even felt like I could smell her.
And I wasn't crazy. It was real. That scent.
If I weren't losing it hard enough already, there was... there was another present left in the box. A smaller, floppier present sat at the bottom of the package, and it was wrapped in plain, red paper - no markings, no notes, no nothing. It was soft, like maybe there was a shirt inside or something, and the center was bulbous and hard. The instant I tore into that paper and caught the smallest glimpse of the fabric - accompanied by an intensification of the smell I merely thought was there, I knew what it was, and I absolutely fucking malfunctioned. Just... stopping in my tracks and wailing like I was losing my fucking mind.
It was Mom's and my solid red gardening bandanas.
"I... I thought you'd want those." Dad choked, his lip quivering as he tried to keep it together. "Careful w-- when you unfold them."
I nodded, wiped my eyes on my sleeve, then removed the paper the rest of the way. Before checking what was wrapped up in the bandanas though, I sat and just touched them for a moment, running my fingers along the canvasing, each little bump and groove triggering a memory of Mom, some in the garden, some not. All of them emboldened by the smell. By the time I finally unfurled the bandanas, I knew where the smell was coming from - a circular, ridged, clamshell-like bottle, three or four inches in circumference.
It was Mom's perfume.
The bottle wasn't marked with any particular brand, so I've never been able to track it down, if it's even still made, but the smell was unmistakable. It was primarily a vanilla scent, but with just a hint of something else. Something flowery. As far as my memory serves, she wore it every day. She always, and I mean always, smelled like it, and, much like the sight and feel of the bandanas, smelling it force fed my heart and mind a million memories - some fragmented, some scarily vivid - and I just kind of flopped down on my butt, right there in the middle of Dad's less than homey living room.
I was fucking gob-smacked.
There was a lot of that over those couple of days, unfortunately. Honestly, the bulk of that Christmas was really painful. I mean, once Uncle Al and Detective Robinson came back, Dad went fucking ballistic on poor Uncle Al, ripping him to pieces over bringing me to New York, and telling him he was being reckless, and stupid, and... Like I said, a lot of it was really painful, and Uncle Al and I didn't go home happy, ya' know? Not entirely, anyway. That said, I had something to hold on to. Something I loved as wholly as humanly fucking possible.
The day I opened that package, I put on Mom's bandana, and I've worn one of the two almost every single day of my life since (the only exceptions being the rare times I've done undercover work). These days, when they aren't on me, I keep them in a nice, hand-carved, wooden box. With them, I keep the perfume bottle, and about every other year or so, I spray it into the box just a skosh, just enough that a bit of it comes out, then I close it really fast so it kinda permeates inside, ya' know?
That way, the bandanas always have a bit of that scent.
The art set, on the other hand, I keep set up in my sun room. As the name would imply, it's the best lit place in the whole house, and is the best place to just sit and lose yourself in drawing. I don't personally believe I'm anywhere near as good at it as Mom was, but Dad swears that I'm much, much better. He also swears that Mom herself would not only agree, but maybe even scold me for not agreeing, ya' know?
Anyway, it was a good while before I had another good Christmas. Years, honestly. Yeah, most were pleasant enough, but they weren't good. Not while Dad and I were so fucking far apart from each other... and that's what I think of every Christmas, as I'm decorating the tree, or prepping dinner, hanging the mistletoe, or wrapping presents. I think of the Christmases I was away from Dad, and how much they made me almost hate the holiday season all together.
"So, besides depressing us, what's the point of sharing all this super personal stuff, Elizabeth?" you ask? Because, like I said, I want to help people realize that, more often than not, those people we label as Scrooges, Grinches, or whatever else? Well, they're likely just in a whole lot of pain. Maybe they lost someone important to them close to the holidays, or maybe they never even had anyone to begin with. Maybe they've just lost their job, their cat ran away, or they found out their kid has cancer, or something awful like that.
The why isn't really important. The cause isn't the point.
The point is, ya' never really know what's going on in someone else's life, and while you and your Christmas cheer may feel attacked by those who are without it, maybe it's better to just go ahead and let them be, rather than getting upset that - GASP - someone doesn't really enjoy the holiday season. Maybe it's better to drop it and quit acting like they're waging some kind of personal war on your good time. They aren't.
They aren't even thinking about you at all.
More often than not, they're just hurting, and it likely doesn't have anything to do with you, your reasons for celebrating, or even the holiday itself, in earnest. They're simply trying to deal with their own, personal heartache, and people throwing barbs at them like "smile, Ebeneser" or "okay, Bad Santa, take another drink" is never gonna do anything but make them grow more resentful of the whole 'Christmas' thing.
That's my two cents worth, anyhow, and I don't have any more right now.
So... Happy Holidays (if ya' want)! Love ya'!
P.S. About Mom's art set ('cause I'm sure at least a couple of people are curious about it's fate); It went to my Grandma Hillard. Seeing as it was something with great sentimental value to both her children, and seeing as she'd lost them both in really horrifying ways, it was only right that she have it in her house as something of a way she could feel close to them. When she died, I took it, and set it up in my attic. Nobody gets to fucking touch it. Why? Because it has, like, a featureless, armature sketch on it of a woman, and I just kinda want to preserve it.
I did get a professional scan of it made though, and every few years, I'll take the digital file and try to extrapolate who the woman in the drawing would've been if Mom'd gotten the chance to finish putting her together. Usually, I just end up drawing Mom. Is that weird? Writing it out and reading it back, I'm kinda feeling like it is now...
P.P.S. Next time, I'll go a little lighter, okay? Maybe even throw in some swashbuckling action for good measure. I swear that not everything I have to say is filled with sadness or existential angst.