But Annoushka does not want her dead.

She wakes up in the morning and wants her alive. Natashka was also her mommy—Nata was many things to her and that was one of them—and Annoushka wants her mommy.

She wants cuddles still. Not remembered cuddles, but real cuddles—real cuddles from the person she loved–and she feels she will die at the prospect of never, ever getting them. She doesn’t think about suicide. Just that she will drop dead at the very thought of it.

And she is angry.

Nata, who ought never to have left her, did leave her. She died. It is a betrayal of the worst kind, because the abandonment is permanent. Natashka didn’t leave when Annoushka needed her most. She left at a point when so many times that Annoushka would need her still lay ahead. She left for every time Annoushka would need her in the future.

She wants to throw something. She throws socks. This helps. Not entirely, but some.

It makes her think about the memory of Natashka’s death. There is something about it that makes her stop and think. Something about the way Natashka held on: she didn’t leave easily.

In the end, this is what Annoushka says.

Natashka was a little girl, but I needed her to take care of me. So she was a big girl. I need to be a big girl now. Or she will worry.

It is her turn to learn to be bigger than she is.

Annoushka doesn’t feel grown up enough to survive on her own. When Natashka died, she was a long ways from being an adult.

I was 13, and had all of these little, little traumatized parts. Annoushka was 10 and there were other, younger parts even less able to be independent and to cope. But I wasn’t ready to be grown up at 13 either. No part of me was. Somehow, I had to be anyway.

This is what Annoushka is fighting. It is as she is really saying I don’t want to grow up.

Her slice of childhood, of being nurtured and unworried and safe, was so small in the first place. My slice was. The slice that all of the parts together got was so small. When Natashka left, even that slice was gone.

It became only a memory and something that could not happen again.

It makes me think about what growing up means. It can’t mean you don’t need to be nurtured anymore. We go on still needing it. But perhaps it means you have learned how to do it well enough to nurture yourself—not so well that you never need a hug anymore, but well enough to get by in between hugs.

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