by Alan Semrow
My mother named me Sunshine, because she said I was smiling when I came out of the womb. She also told me that her uterus fell out during the birth and she almost died, blood all around her, dripping onto the cold, hard hospital floor. The origin of my name, I still find it hard to believe.
Truth is, I couldn’t have imagined a life without my mother and so I smile when I think of the fact that she lived the vast majority of her life with me. It was a year ago when she passed and hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of her. Her smile, how she made the best boxed Mac and Cheese on God’s green earth. And speaking of God, I’ve learned a lot from him, too. As sad as my mother’s death was, I knew I had to carry on and continue to be happy. If only in the name of God and dear Jesus Christ.
My name is Sunshine, after all!!!
A week after my mother’s death, I got on disability. I’m embarrassed to say it like this, but I was just too fat for the job I had at the local Post Office, so now I spend a lot of time in my mother’s small one-bedroom bungalow. I read several magazines and watch all of the talk shows. I also am a big fan of clipping coupons. In between all of this, though, I make certain to socialize, to seek the comfort in the friends that have always been near and dear to me. The ones that were there when Mother passed and I thought I might just die.
And so it is, tonight, that I sit on my mother’s old plaid couch, watching CBS and talking. Talking with my old friends, gathered here today. Marissa, Joey, Clyde, Penelope, Lizzy, and Jared. Each and every one of them has become a large treasure in this life of mine. It’s important to give love. My mother taught me that. Tonight, I cooked up a big brew of the best Mac and Cheese in the world. And they all seem happy and joyous, seated around me.
I ask Joey how it’s been going with his new boyfriend. He grumbles a little and serves us all with an explanation about what it means to be faithful in a relationship. I get up and offer him a hug. He sort of turns away, but that’s kind of how Joey works.
I laugh. No big deal, Joey.
Marissa starts to tell us about the new AA sponsor she has. I know it’s all about anonymity, but I have to tell you, Marissa does use her new sponsor’s last name. For your information, his name is Kyle Sumner. And he’s been great to her, showing her what it means to love life again. Giving her a little extra when she needs it.
Penelope guffaws at Marissa’s story, telling her that no sponsor should be giving her cunnilingus on the side. It’s this kind of stuff in a conversation that I never get too involved in. It’s true that sex before marriage is a sin.
The only couple in the group, Lizzy and Jared, tell us about Baby George, how he’s becoming a big boy, and how the stress of breastfeeding has recently become a little bit easier. I gnaw away at another helping of Mac and Cheese. I ask my friends if they’d like another, but Clyde says that Lizzy’s detailing of nature’s milk has probably turned him off dairy for a lifetime.
Tonight, on CBS, it’s “CSI.” Man, do I love that show. You got the sexy babe and the sexy stud up there, figuring out all the details. It’s important to have people like them in this world. I thank God we do.
Jared stares at it intently, turning his head as the music escalates with the violins becoming higher and higher in pitch. I’d hate to leave Jared too much out of this conversation, but it does seem he’s become very invested in what’s onscreen.
Clyde shakes his head at the television and turns his focus to me. He asks how I’m doing and how my week was. I sigh and tell my friends that it’s been a good week. I finally picked up my mother’s favorite book, Wuthering Heights, and read it from front to back in one sitting. I tell them that it was good for me to finally do that—to break from my fears and allow myself to open up into the fluttering butterfly that I am. I tell them that there is life after death, that it all continues on—if we just stay with it and not let a day pass us by, not a moment. We only have the present and we must stay focused on that, or we will lose track of what our life is, who we are, what other people love about us, and what we should in turn love about ourselves.
“This life,” I say. “It’s a great one. It’s one to celebrate! To get up in the morning and make a batch of the best Mac and Cheese you’ll ever eat! I am blessed. Look at every single one of you looking at me, caring for me.” I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I tell my friends, “The truth is, the last year was hard and I couldn’t have gone through it without all of you. You’ve shown me what goodness means. You’ve shown me that I’ve always been a good person. It gives me life and it lifts me up.”
I open my eyes and gaze around the living room at my six frustrated pet Shih Tzus.