Connect openings on left to any (or multiple) statements on right.  





In my defense…








Can it be…








It’s impossible that…








I remain certain…







Many times I want to forget…








My relentless need to remember…








I’m embarrassed…







I must understand…



…she asked for my help to move into her first college dorm, and after three hours of sweating together, she disappeared. My palms scratched rough and red from carrying concrete cinder blocks (to elevate her bed), I set the last one down to grab the handle on the dorm’s massive door, and nothing happened. I was locked out and she was gone. To an important meeting, she said through the phone (days later) and after I had flown 1,000 miles home without hearing goodbye.


…she was married, lived twenty minutes away, loved me. Yet, in the middle of the night when I needed a ride to Emergency (pain bending me in two), it never occurred to me to phone her.



…I answered my phone and was shocked. She rarely called, and I heard something about her boyfriend through her sobs. I’m ambushed—Why now? What makes me worthy of her reaching out to me now? I’m instantly uneasy I’ll say the wrong thing. Do other mothers let their daughters dictate their relationships, afraid if they screw up, they won’t get to hear their daughters’ voices at all?




…at nine my silent girl didn’t know how to express herself about the divorce. But I knew the school psychologist, and he consented to invite her for a chat. Such relief.

“It’s a hardship for her to share how she feels about it. She’s a quiet, private girl. My advice? Don’t force this. Don’t insist she ‘talk to someone.’” So, we suffered separately and in silence.




…on her wedding day, warm sand stroked naked feet, waves hushed admirers as her white, satin dress and smile competed with the shiny, tropical sun. Minutes before—final touches. A spray of pink orchids clipped to her blonde hair pulled back into a long braid draping her bare shoulder, tanned and smooth. Then, my arms stretched for a last-ever, single-daughter hug. And she stiffened.



…she (we) had a new life. As stepdaughter, she scraped against younger stepsiblings. Collided. Stepsiblings competing, or hating, or clinging, longing to pluck her teenage potency. And she smoked dope and shoplifted and ditched school and forged my signature.



…she had her own daughter. I propped my shopworn mirror opposite the past, buffed past failures down to tiny imperfections. Then her daughter, my granddaughter, with gallant arms outstretched, swaggered across the carpet, opposite the mirror, and she hugged my knees to her toddler-chest. The sheen new, now the reflection shown clear, my daughter’s image absent.



…the pediatrician’s assistant administered my little girl’s first eye test, the lettered chart hanging on a wall, pretty fish swimming in a tank nearby.

“Stand right there, honey. Hold this over one eye and read the smallest letters you see on the chart.”


“What other letters do you see?”

“E.” She tried the stick over the other eye. “E.” Confusion, embarrassment—both mine.

“Sweetie, is it difficult to see the board at school?”

My shy girl, “Yes.”

“Have you told your mom?”


I was incredulous—“When did you tell me that?

“Remember? I said I couldn’t see the board, and you said ask for a different seat.”

Right. “I thought you meant someone was blocking your view.”

Obviously, she had terrible vision. Obviously, I didn’t see it.


…a tiny girl, her joy came easily—eyes in happy-squints, giggles spreading bliss. Then, when sadness and upset entered, inscrutability tightened her cheeks, flattened her brown eyes, and this enigmatic veneer wrested away my confidence to comfort. Left my arms empty. And neither her father nor I could peek behind the guise when we aimed I love yous at her heart, from two directions, from two houses.

…she was nine or ten. Both of us raw in private ways since our move from her father. In our small apartment we knocked into each other, our fragility vulnerable to the slightest stumble. We fought, and the upset sent me to lie on my bed. Then, she was gone. I scoured the grounds. Combed nearby streets in the car. Panic rose in my throat. I drove home and phoned her friends. She might come back; I should wait here. Suddenly, she stood in the open doorway, tears streaming off her chin. Her eyes lit with anger, her voice burst with her horror of my betrayal.

Why didn’t you come look for me?”